The morning after Halloween, my friend’s daughter woke up and checked Instagram (part of most teens morning routine). She saw in a post that three of her friends had gone trick-or-treating together and didn’t invite her — and freaked. She told her mother that her feelings were hurt.
As a parent of a teen girl, I could SO relate!
Being excluded from social events has always been rough on kids. For decades, groups of friends have been getting together, inviting this one or that one, and someone inevitably gets left out. But tweens and teens today are much more likely to find out about what they are missing because EVERYTHING is posted online in real time.
A few years ago, I went through a similar experience with my daughter. She found out from a Facebook post that some of her good friends had gone to the beach and she wasn’t included. She was sad and disappointed that she was left out. As a parent, it was upsetting to me, too.
Unfortunately, during their teens years, our kids are struggling with confidence and self esteem and friendships and relationships. Being excluded from one event can easily seem like a BIG deal.
I feel like most kids aren’t posting with the intent to make others feel bad. They’re just trying to be cool or share pics of themselves having fun.
When my daughter experienced this type of exclusion, I told her: “You’re just not going to be included in every get together and you have to be okay with that.” I also told her she may be the one who accidentally excludes a friend one day and she needs to be careful about what she posts and mindful of how it could hurt someone’s feelings.
My teenage son says handles it differently when he sees on Instagram that he has been left out when friends get together: “If I really want to hang out with them, I ask them if I can hang out with them next time, or I take the initiative to be the one to make the plans.”
Of course, there’s a big difference between posting group pics or party photos in which someone is excluded by accident — and posting the photos on purpose to taunt someone. That’s where some parental intervention may need to come in.
We all know that teens aren’t going to stop sharing their “hanging out with my friends” pics any time soon. But encouraging your teen to think about the potential for who may see the pictures before posting can go a long way toward avoiding hurt feelings.
Has this happened to your teen? How as a parent did you handle it?