Promoting Inclusion at School
Feeling a sense of belonging and social inclusion is important for all children. Educating your child’s teachers and classmates about juvenile arthritis can help demystify the condition and build understanding and empathy for what your child is experiencing.
Cassie and Friends’ School Toolkit provides guidance and tools to help you and your child talk about their arthritis at school, including:
The Arthritis Society’s video Kids Get It Too! helps teachers understand what children and youth with juvenile arthritis might be experiencing so that they can best meet your child’s needs.
Unfortunately, children with chronic health issues may be more likely to experience bullying. Encourage your child’s teacher and school to teach students about inclusion and diversity of abilities. If you are concerned that your child is being bullied, talk to them and encourage them to report any bullying behaviour to you or another trusted adult. It can be difficult for children and teens to talk about being bullied, so it might help to share your own experiences. Watch the TV shows and movies your child likes to help start conversations about appropriate behaviour, healthy relationships, peer pressure and exclusion.
Here are some tips to consider if your child is being bullied or you’re worried they may be being bullied:
Explain bullying to your child so they can identify the different types and know who to go to when they experience bullying or recognize signs.
Look for potential signs of bullying, which include injuries, change in sleep or appetite, sudden isolation, fear of going to school, or change in online behaviour.
If your child talks to you about being bullied, give them your full attention and avoid assumptions. Try asking how, where and how often these issues occur. Involve other adults such as your child’s teacher, principal, or others who can help support your child and address the issue.
Teach your child assertiveness using role-playing. You can practice responses together, whether verbal or in response to cyberbullying. Help your child to learn to confidently say “STOP!”, walk away from a bullying situation and, most importantly, report it to an adult.
Encourage new friendships by involving your child in different activities during and outside of school, so that they a variety of friend groups.
Help build your child’s confidence and self-esteem by enrolling them in activities they enjoy that help them feel good about themselves. After-school clubs, your local library, community centre, or other organizations may offer free or low-cost programming for children and teens.
Model respectful behaviour towards others and praise inclusive behaviour when you see it.
For more information on how to address bullying and self-esteem, you can visit the following resources: