The Power of Inclusion: 3 Ways to Create a More Inclusive World for our Children

There’s nothing worse than seeing your child excluded. To witness a situation where they are not invited, where their friends go off without them. To see their face drop with disappointment, their eyes well up with tears, their minds ticking over, wondering what they did wrong, why they couldn’t play too.

It’s a terrible thing to experience as a parent. But it happens every single day.

Alarmingly, one in six Australian children experience social exclusion. Children become aware of their social rejection from around the age of eight.

mum centralThat’s why today, World Inclusion Day, we wanted to bring the importance of inclusion to attention. We called on the Founder of the Friend In Me charity organisation and Chief Inclusion Officer, Louise Larkin to offer her guidance.

Back in 2016, Louise witnessed the heartbreak of seeing a child miss out on a party, something she hopes no child ever has to go through.

It’s any kid’s rite of passage to play party games at a birthday party, jump on the trampoline at a play date and enjoy a midnight snack at a sleepover.

There are thousands of kids who don’t have the chance to create these important childhood experiences each year because they may have a disability or appear ‘different’ and are excluded.”

So she put on her very own party for children who felt like they were missing out and it was a huge success. Louise now holds the signature event annually with thousands of families through Friends In Me.

The effects of social exclusion

Social exclusion isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. It can take on many forms.

As Louise tells Mum Central, 

Name calling, spreading rumours about a child, always last to be chosen for a team or purposefully excluding a child from an activity. When this kind of action is done repetitively, it is classed as a form of bullying.” 

Social inclusion - world inclusion day
Source: Supplied

Many children don’t mean to hurt when they socially exclude a classmate. But for the child who is excluded, it can cause serious emotional and mental damage. It can also lead to a loss of social connectedness – something that every child needs and deserves.

Stanford Medicine’s Centre for Compassion & Altruism Research & Education says that social connectedness is not related to the number of friends that someone has, it is more the subjective feeling of connection.

They also say: “People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. Social connectedness generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional, and physical well-being.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true for those who lack social connectedness.”

This is why it’s so important for us parents to be educators on the importance of inclusion. This isn’t something children will automatically be able to understand. We need to be the teachers in this. To showcase the power of being accepting,  kind, and welcoming to all.

It is crucial that we, as parents or carers, are teaching our children the importance of inclusion and social connectedness to ensure that they do not harbor any unnecessary prejudices.” 

Helping our kids understand inclusion positively

Below are three simple ways you can help give your children an understanding of inclusion, according to Louise.


“We all know the phrase monkey see, monkey do. Never has this been more relevant. Your children are inspired by you and will generally follow your lead.

As parents, we have the important job of being exemplary role models.

It is important for children to understand that even though we all have differences, we are all the same and have the same feelings and emotions.

Make sure that you are being inclusive in all parts of your life. Do you make a point of making everyone feel included at work and school pick-ups?

Does your child know the true value in themselves and others? Encourage them to expand their social networks so they meet different people through community and sporting groups and after-school activities.

Open up their world and the results will speak for themselves.”


“Kids have naturally inquisitive minds so often ask lots of questions about why someone may appear a little different.

Encourage this kind of open and honest conversation with your children. Don’t lie, ignore, or brush over their questions.

Make sure that any questions your child asks about someone’s ‘differences’ that you answer honestly. They are learning and just asking on face value not due to prejudice.

Talk through your family values with your children and highlight why they are important. This will help give your kids a better understanding of where inclusion fits in their world and why it is so important.”


“Children learn a lot from reading. So, it’s worth investing the time to build positive reading experiences. Open your child’s world with books about inclusion.

There are plenty of children’s books that address inclusion, and they are a great way to open the conversation with your kids.

Take a trip to your local library or visit your local book shop to see what literary delights you can find. Every little bit helps in the fight to be a more inclusive society.”

Friend In Me is an Australian charity that is on a crusade to reduce the feelings of loneliness and isolation that children can experience by bringing families together to meet, share, laugh, and connect with each other.

To find out more about how you can get involved and help create a more inclusive world please visit

What to read next

Avatar of Mum Central

We're passionate about connecting mums of all ages across our online network. From parenting articles to educational stories, recipes, giveaways and more, don't be shy, you're all welcome! We are also on the lookout for regular contributors or readers wishing to share their real life stories so contact us today!

Write A Comment