Besting Bullying on Team
Kiddo, 13, is in an individual sport, in a team environment -- track and field, gymnastics, swimming. The team gets a score but really it's an individual sport. You and Kiddo cheer on everybody on their personal successes in training and competition, regardless of placement. Kiddo is dedicated and does well, usually with the top performers. At practice, everyone is focused on training and while there's some socializing, exclusion is hard to do, but when it's, e.g., picture day, the other kids clump together and exclude Kiddo. When it is team spirit week and the huge group goes to, e.g., bowling, Kiddo is left out of the lanes of age mates and takes on the role of big kid to the littles in another lane, likewise on "twins day" is left to make a triplet with a younger set. Head is held high, small attempts are made to banter with group, and patience is used in hopes that there will be a welcome to the group chatter. On picture day, the circle eventually opened and welcomed Kiddo, but only after the exclusionary point was made. Any advice for Kiddo breaking in? The coaches are great for coaching the sport, but aren't trained in social connections; I'd be afraid they would botch any "fix" and clearly team spirit week wasn't a bonding situation. The parents are not much warmer than their kids so there's not an easy entrée there for a friendly discussion. I don't think Kiddo is broken as Kiddo easily makes new friends with kids in other environments and has deep friendships elsewhere. It is heartbreaking to watch and heartbreaking for Kiddo as many hours are spent pursuing fun in the sport with these teammates, but the team feeling is lacking. Kiddo doesn't need team to be best buddy but less excluding and more inclusiveness would be heartening.