Children Who Exclude Others: How to Act?

Before you assume why some children exclude others, you should ask questions and explore the reasons. This will give you the tools to act.
Children Who Exclude Others: How to Act?

Last update: 08 November, 2022

The schoolyard can be a place full of play and laughter, but also of misunderstandings. Here, children interact, make decisions about who they like and who they don’t like, and establish their first social relationships on their own. Many times, we can see that in the spontaneous dynamics there are children who exclude others peer and adults don’t always know what to do. If this is your case, you can continue reading to understand more about this issue.

Children who exclude others: How to act?

Here are some recommendations to better deal with this situation with your children.

Ask and listen

It’s important not to take for granted the reasons why children exclude others of their age.

Often, adults think they know everything about their children’s life or behavior, but at school, there are many situations that are unknown.

“I notice that you never want to play with X. Is something wrong?”: This can be a question to start a conversation if you think it’s your child who excludes others.

A mother asking her daughter why she excludes others.
Be sure to find a moment to ask your children about their social situation with others.

Think about the reasons

Once you know what’s happening in that context and you know the reason, think about the best course of action before you do anything.

Sometimes children decide not to hang out with a certain classmate because they bully or assault them in some way.

Learning that your child excludes a classmate from a group because they behave aggressively isn’t the same as learning that your child excludes them because they stutter when speaking. In one case, it’s more of a defense, while in the other, it’s an act of discrimination that should not be allowed.

Don’t force your child to sympathize with someone, but teach them not to be unpleasant

Your little one doesn’t have to be friends with all their classmates, especially those they don’t like. But that doesn’t mean turning against someone or never allowing them to participate in a game.

Also, it’s important to teach your child that there are different degrees of intimacy in social relationships. That sometimes it’s okay to play one-on-one, but that they can also have fun in group games in which everyone participates.

Encourage them to put themselves in the place of the peer who is being excluded

Promote empathy and encourage your child to think about how they would feel if they didn’t have anyone to play with at recess. You can even rehearse the strategy at home, using a familiar situation. For example, how would you feel if I always invited your little sister to watch movies in our bed and we left you out?

Many times, and depending on their age, children find certain behaviors funny, but they’re not able to project or measure the extent of the damage they can do.

Pay attention to the frequency of this event

It’s not the same if it’s an isolated issue or a “bad week” for the group as if it’s a repeated or prolonged episode.

Follow up on the issue

Even if you listen to your child and take action, don’t think it’s enough. It’s important to follow up by asking how things are going and if anything has changed in the group. Peer rejection has a big impact on a child’s psychological and emotional development, so don’t downplay its importance.

Help them to be part of it and to take part in it

Sometimes, in order for children to be part of a group, we must accompany them. For example, when children are left out of the peer environment because after-school activities are organized and we, as adults, don’t take them or allow them to go. As a result, they won’t have anecdotes to share or won’t understand certain topics of conversation.

Involve the educational community

Depending on the severity of the conflict, it’s crucial for teachers to know that there’s an uncomfortable situation among peers. Sometimes, they don’t notice it because it happens at recess and during playtime, but not during class time.

In this way, you’ll be able to give them tools to organize integration dynamics and to encourage the development of social skills, which will allow children to get to know each other and improve school coexistence.

Children sitting on the floor doing schoolwork.
Encouraging inclusion at school and at home is an important strategy to help develop empathy and social skills.

What issues should adults avoid?

Here are some recommendations to keep in mind at home:

  • Don’t underestimate what’s happening to your child. Don’t exaggerate or make it personal, but don’t treat it as “kid stuff” either. Ask questions and explore further. Sometimes early signs of a much more complex exclusion dynamic appear.
  • Don’t react badly and avoid blaming. It’s no use yelling at other parents or teachers. Try to stay calm and think about how you can help. At the same time, avoid phrases that look for responsible people, such as “you don’t share your toys”, “you’ve always been bad-tempered”. Blaming your child only creates more insecurity and doesn’t help them solve the problem. In fact, the only thing you’ll achieve is them not wanting to tell you anything else.

Looking in the mirror

Perhaps this is one of the most difficult parts: Asking yourself what you’re like and what example you’re giving to your children to cause them to exclude others.

By looking at ourselves, we may discover that more than once, we’ve had segregating behaviors, and there, we also communicate values. Class, religion, ethnicity, appearance, and many other aspects are part of everyday household conversations. If we realize that sometimes we’re not the best example, it’s a good time to reverse it.

The upbringing and education of children is an issue that questions and challenges us all.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Muñoz de Bustillo, Mª Carmen , & Martín, Eduardo (2009). Un análisis contextual de la preferencia y el rechazo entre iguales en la escuela. Psicothema, 21(3),439-445.[fecha de Consulta 18 de Abril de 2022]. ISSN: 0214-9915. Disponible en:
  • García-Bacete, Francisco-Juan; Lara Carrión, Ana; Monjas Casares, Mª Inés ¿POR QUÉ LOS NIÑOS NO QUIEREN JUGAR CON OTROS NIÑOS? UN ANÁLISIS EXPLORATORIO DE LOS MOTIVOS DE RECHAZO ENTRE IGUALES. International Journal of Developmental and Educational Psychology, vol. 1, núm. 1, 2005, pp. 257-268 Asociación Nacional de Psicología Evolutiva y Educativa de la Infancia, Adolescencia y Mayores Badajoz, España

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.