Sunday, December 2, 2012

Children Wonder: Where Do I Belong?

Children and adults alike need to feel that they belong somewhere. Sometimes we find our niche in our family, in our circle of friends, or in an affiliation with a particular group of some sort. It might be an affiliation with a school or religious group or community group. Relationships with others are a fundamental part of who we are and contribute to how we feel about ourselves. Yet probably everyone has had a time when a group or a person they desperately wanted to connect with refused to give them the time of day. Sometimes the cold shoulder was deliberate and sometimes it may have been unintentional but it always leaves us feeling hurt and vulnerable. Children in particular struggle with belonging when they are ostracized from a group and this is a common concern in schools these days with the emphasis on anti-bullying programs. As a school counselor, I teach several lessons every year on the importance of accepting differences in ourselves and others.  Some of the concepts that are highlighted in these lessons are:
  • Everyone is different and that's a good thing!
  • We all have areas of strength and areas of weakness
  • Teasing or ostracizing someone because they are different in some way is hurtful. 
  • Everyone wants to feel they belong somewhere and YOU might just be the friend that someone needs.
  • Recognize and affirm your own and other's strengths

In the lovely picture book, Georgette, A Little Frog Discovers the Value of Revealing Her True Self, the author Chandler Goldstein not only touches on the dilemma of wanting to belong where we don’t really fit in but the value of being our true selves anyway. In this story, Georgette, the frog who patterns her party dress after the personal taste of the most popular frog, learns that her own taste is not only more flattering to her, it makes her happiest as well. She also learns the important lesson that by being herself she will actually attract other friends who can be better and truer friends than the popular crowd that she was pursuing. I am excited to add another book to my library of books on staying true to ourselves and valuing our differences.

Author, Chandler Goldstein, resides in Sandy Springs, Georgia and plans to add other books to her series. I wish her much success! This is a great book for school counselors to add to their shelves for lessons on peer pressure and self-esteem.

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