Aliens and Earthlings: Which One Am I?
To belong. What can be more important to children? Fitting in with one’s peer group is a pivotal experience for late-latency and pre-adolescent children. Th e ongoing construction of a Self requires the mirroring of peers. By a certain time in a child’s life, peers exceed parents in their infl uence on the course of development. Establishing oneself as an individual requires children to be comfortable with their themselves, their similarities to and their diff erences from other youngsters. Th is accomplishment requires the child to feel that her unique personality is enjoyed and accepted by others. When this doesn’t occur, she can feel a deep sense of alienation, isolation, and anger. Some children develop a strong sense of self-loathing in the process when they feel diff erent. Th e following three letters address the issues of belonging to a peer group, and the emotional problems that transpire when children feel alone in their diff erentness (Box, 1994; Th oits, 1995; Heaney & Israel, 2002). Each letter captures a diff erent aspect of the issues of isolation and alienation.