Why I Tell My Littles to Seek Out the New Kid

As a child, my family moved quite often. The beginning of 4th grade, end of 6th grade, middle of 8th grade, and middle of 10th grade.

As soon as my new girl status started to wear off, we moved. I spent most of my school aged life known as the “new girl.”

And every move was looked at as a fun new adventure.

New cities and house hunting and calling dibs on the best bedroom.

Packing and unpacking and redecorating.

My family and golden retriever were with me and when you’re a kid that’s all that matters.

But then, the first day of school rolls around and you’re the new girl that doesn’t know a single person or where you’re going.

And starting in the middle of the school year?

That was definitely the hardest. Everyone is settled into a routine… and then there’s you… who sticks out like a sore thumb.

And lunch time?

Oh gosh, the cafeteria was torture.

Each move consisted of the exact same routine… while standing in line to buy lunch I’d scope out the table that looked the least intimidating, I’d timidly walk over and quietly ask if I can sit with them, quietly eat my food, quietly tell them I’ll see them tomorrow, then wait in the bathroom until the lunch bell rings.

I probably looked like the strange quiet girl because, well, I was. I was shy. I secretly wished I was the outgoing new kid that everyone instantly accepted and there wasn’t that weird phase where you have the attention of the entire school but no one wants to talk to you.

Last year, my oldest daughter, came home from kindergarten talking about a new girl in her class. She said she looked sad. She said she looked scared. She said she didn’t talk.

So I asked Isabelle if she said hi to her?

She said, “No.”

She said, “No one talked to her.”

Then, my school-aged heart ached.

This conversation opened the door to teaching my littles to seek out the new kid.

I explained to my girls what it felt like to be a new kid. I put them in their shoes, in my shoes. I explained that it can be scary and uncomfortable. But I also explained that it doesn’t have to be like that for long. I explained how they have the power to make it easier for them.

Then, I told them with each move I remember that one person who would come up to me and say hi and offer a friendly face and a guiding hand.

Sometimes? It was my first day of school.

Other times? I was lonely for quite a while.

The next day my daughter came home and told me that the new girl rode her bus, so she asked her to sit with her and she walked her to class and she asked her to be her friend.

She told me she didn’t look scared anymore.

She now understood that her actions were powerful.

My momma heart was so proud.

Later that school year Isabelle was invited to the new girls birthday party.

As we walked in and introduced ourselves, we were showered with gratefulness. Her moms words expressed how Isabelle had made such a difference to her daughter and her kindness wouldn’t be forgotten.

Then, just last week my 5 year old came home telling me she had a new girl in class.

And from our previous discussions? Halle already knew what to do.

She said hi and introduced herself.

She asked her to be her friend.

She introduced the new girl to her two best friends and invited her to sit by them.

Then at the end of the day she took her hand and walked her to the bus.

new kid

My girls now seek out the new kids. They didn’t realize they could do anything to help. They didn’t know their actions had significant power. Since I am sensitive to this particular situation, I was able to give them the tools. But, let me tell you, they are the ones who chose to take them and use them.

There have been a handful of new kids in their classes in the last two years. And each time they tell me the same story of how they welcomed them.

I’ve had two parents reach out to mention how one of my girls eased their childs anxiety about a new school.

These what seem like small acts of kindness can mean everything to someone. A smile. A wave. A “Hi! My name is ____, what’s yours?” A “Welcome to our school!” A “Come sit with us.” A “Do you need help?”

Looking back, I am grateful for the people I met and experiences I had. I would never wish to change my journey. It’s a huge part of who I am. My third move led me to my now husband and some pretty amazing life long friends.

I learned to be independent. I learned to quickly read people. I learned to adapt… to let go… to move on. I learned that no matter where you are, home is where your family is.

But no matter what, being a kid in a new school is hard at first. And if we can teach our littles to be that friendly face that helps them get through their day? We would be teaching them the meaning of kindness.

I think we should make kindness the new cool! What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Nadine (@caringchaos)

    This is beautiful , being new and feeling uncomfortable in a new situation is horrible in school and into adulthood. Teaching your kids this is fantastic as they are aware how they can change someones experiences for the better x

    Reply
    1. Lana Lytwyn Post author

      Nadine, thank you! I couldn’t agree more. This isn’t just about our littles in school, but adulthood as well. We can all change someone’s experience with a simple act of kindness!

      Reply
    1. Lana Lytwyn Post author

      Thank you for your kind comment, Candy. I think we are all hoping, wishing, and praying that we are raising wonderful kids who will someday turn into adults!

      Reply
  2. Natalie

    What a beautiful post. We have moved many times and I have taught my kids the same thing. It is easier for them to understand since they have often been the new kid. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Lana Lytwyn Post author

      Absolutely, Natalie! I am empathetic towards this subject because I’ve been there, just like your littles. I love that they’re paying it forward!

      Reply
  3. Amy Scott

    How good of you, you’re raising a good bunch. I would feel the same way thinking of nobody talking to the kid! The girls’ kindness will go further than they know!

    Reply
    1. Lana Lytwyn Post author

      Thank you! You’re so kind, Amy. I love seeing them realize how powerful their kindness really is!

      Reply
  4. Kathryn

    I love this. Such a wonderful and beautiful thing to teach your children. I was the loner back in school and high school and because of that I always tried to reach out to the new kid. I made some great friendships that way. <3

    Reply
    1. Lana Lytwyn Post author

      Thank you, Kathryn. I appreciate you sharing your story. You were that kind face that was welcoming and that is a beautiful foundation for a friendship! You made a difference.

      Reply
  5. Kerry

    So happy with this post. It’s so important to teach this to kids, because when they grow up, they will be the ‘new person’ at work and they wouldn’t like to be pushed out or alienated. Great to see you are passing this on to your kids, I bet they are so sweet.

    Reply
    1. Lana Lytwyn Post author

      Thank you for such encouraging words, Kerry! I could not agree with you more! This hands down carries into adulthood. My hope is that my littles not only make their kindness a habit, but a way of life.

      Reply
  6. Adina M

    I think this is beautiful, for the simple fact that you are teaching your kid empathy, one of the most important traits that seems to lack in society nowadays. Thank you for this lovely, touching post.

    Reply
  7. Fatima Ali

    My husband has the same story as you. He used to move quiet often since his dad was in the military. He says it was full of experience and he quiet liked it.

    Reply
  8. Joanna

    Awww, that is such an important lesson to learn your daughter. Not always just the new kids don’t seem to fit it because other children don’t give them a chance, but also quiet children, that are considered strange just because they don’t talk much.

    Reply
  9. Ana De- Jesus

    I cannot tell you how much this makes my heart swell with pride. I used to be that girl who always tried to make people who looked like they were on their own welcome because I know what it is like to feel alone and it is horrible. You should be so proud of your girls and to be honest I think that they can teach some adults how to be nice to others x

    Reply
  10. Eloise

    what a great way to teach your girls through your own personal experience. I love the idea of teaching kids empathy and respect… teaching them how it feels to be the new kid in school, and how to make it more pleasant for that kid. great job!

    Reply
  11. Me-An Clemente

    This is a good lesson to teach kids. I’m pretty sure that they will grow up as good natured and they won’t have problem having friends. They’re blessed to have you as a mom.

    Reply
  12. Fred Erick

    I was the type of kid that seek out the new kid. During grade school, I transferred school twice so I completely understand how it feels to be the new kid.It’s so nice fo you to remind your littles to do it. And they look so adorable.

    Reply
  13. Mary

    I literally got teary eyed with your article. I def know the feeling of being that new kid! Even now I’m all grown up and travelling the world, every time I walk in to a new hostel I still feel a bit awkward and feel left out. ‘You are a lovely mum! I will teach this to my future kids too!

    Reply
  14. Idaintyit

    Aww it must be so hard constantly moving as a kid! I grew up in the same place so can’t imagine it. I always used to take the time to talk to the newbies as I always thought it must be so difficult starting a new school and not knowing anyone and L will be taught that way too

    Reply
  15. Kimberly

    What a fantastic lesson to teach your children. I remember being the new kid. 3 times I was the new kids and it was terrifying. So thank you! I will be teaching my children this wonderful life lesson

    Reply

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