Why are some people always the outsider

Outsider in school

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About the author

Christine Kammerer, political scientist M.A., alternative practitioner (psychotherapy), freelance journalist and trainer. Professional background: Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, Federal Agency for Political Education, German Child Protection Association.

by Christine Kammerer



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Children and teenagers who are considered outsiders in school are often unhappy and desperate. But not every child who has few friends is an outsider at school. Sometimes it is just a question of personality structure whether someone is open and sociable or more reserved and introverted.

Such characteristics can change in the course of adolescence and also later, in adult life. If, however, children noticeably suffer from exclusion at school and feel isolated and lonely in the classroom, then there is an acute need for action. Such patterns must be changed immediately as they stand in the way of healthy personality development. Parents then often react at a loss and ask themselves why their child of all people is an outsider at school. But if you pull together with the teachers at the school, effective solutions can often be found quickly. This post provides many useful suggestions on the subject of outsiders in school and, among other things, explores the question of why some children find it so difficult to integrate into a group of their own age and how you can help them without putting them under pressure.

Outsiders in school - behavior and personality structure

In school classes with a size of around 20 children, an average of ten to 15 percent, i.e. two or three students, are affected and are referred to as "outsiders in school". In addition to the phenomenon of social exclusion, there are certain characteristics that all outsiders have in common, such as fearfulness, social insecurity and weakness of the ego. Most of the time, outsiders in school are students who are hardly noticeable in the class because they are usually introverted and reserved and behave calmly. They prefer to stay in the background and often even avoid situations where they are the focus.

That is why it usually takes a while for outsiders to be noticed by the teachers at school. This is because the active and lively children demand a lot from their attention. This solidifies the role of outsiders in the class, however, because they in particular need attention and support so that they dare to step out of their shell and become more courageous. You should first take a close look at each case, because the actual situation and the level of suffering are very different from child to child.

Outsiders in school and group dynamics in classes

In a class, as in every group, certain norms and rules of the game apply, which are consciously or unconsciously adhered to by all group members: Certain behaviors are considered socially acceptable, while others are rejected as completely inappropriate or even "punished". Outsiders in school are defined as people being part of a group but not really belonging to it. Affiliation requires certain qualities that the outsider does not meet in school. He does not correspond to their norms, for example with regard to nationality, language, clothing, social origin or physical characteristics. As a result, he is ignored or even rejected by the group. It can be very helpful for those affected to first find out what exactly this part of it is.

Outsiders at school: Cinderella, Scapegoat and Black Sheep

The behavior of the outsider in school is in a sense just a reaction to the group's attitude towards him - a more or less successful attempt at adjustment. A distinction can be made between different types: Passive outsiders in schools are usually not taken seriously or even noticed by the group, as in the fairy tale “Cinderella”, active outsiders in schools are pushed into the role of the “scapegoat” or the “black sheep” . Usually the transition between the types is fluid and changes according to the situation. Like everyone in the group (leader, follower, clown, etc.), the outsider also has a relatively clearly defined function. The demarcation from him
  • strengthens cohesion (for example, by making it clear how group members who violate norms are sanctioned)
  • serves to establish one's own identity,
  • satisfies power needs of leaders and
  • serves as a lightning rod in the event of voltage.

Outsiders in school - problematic personality development

Exclusion interferes with the development of behaviors that help integrate into groups. This is an important adjustment service, especially later when integrating in the professional environment. Socially isolated children cannot acquire the full range of opportunities for interaction and communication that lays the foundations for a fulfilled and satisfactory life, such as making contacts, making friends or developing a coherent self-image that is not based on ascriptions from others, but on one Feedback is based. The stigmatization as an outsider in school defines a role with which those affected can identify so strongly in the further course that they (consciously or unconsciously) behave conspicuously just to confirm the expectations of others. There is therefore a considerable risk that an affected child will fall into a vicious circle that reinforces the existing structures.

Conclusion: I strengthen myself, promote social contacts.

In fact, there are only two appropriate solutions to the problem discussed here: abandoning the role of outsider or, if that is not possible, for example because a child does not meet the norms of a group due to characteristics such as a physical disability, to develop enough self-confidence and self-confidence, to live well integrated with the stigma. Both approaches therefore require a strong self. Another important help is to encourage the development of friendships and social contacts among outsiders in school. However, a lot of sensitivity is required, because if you help too obviously, resistance can arise in affected children that thwart success.

And of course the subject of "exclusion" and "outsiders in schools" will always be taken up in the appropriate context in school in order to make the students aware of their own behavior in the group. If, however, there is no change in behavior in an outsider at school in an adequate period of time (usually three to six months), it is time to consider a fundamental step such as changing schools and giving the student concerned the chance of one to give full reboot.

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The ICH-weak child as an outsider at school

Typical behavior patterns of outsiders

Outsiders at school (helpful advice for those affected)

Lonely at school: getting out of the role of outsider

Boost confidence in children (helpful advice for parents)

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