T.H. asks from Burleson, TX on June 24, 2008
7 Year Old Daughter Is Having a Rough Time with Her Friends !!!
My daughter is a typical 7 year old ~ loves Hannah Montanna, High School Muscial, playing outside... etc. She is very outgoing and very strong willed. She makes friends ANYWHERE she goes ~ hence the reason for my concern!! She has known the two girls that she is having problems with since the three of them were 2 years old. The 3 girls and all of us mothers hang out every so often (the girls are together 4 days out of the week!!), the girls play soccer and basketball together, BUT it seems that more frequently than I remember, when the 3 are together, they are terribly MEAN! My daughter is very athletic ~ very muscular for a little girl; not your skinny little girl. The three of them are currently in soccer camp together and today one of them made the comment how slow my little girl is. She is very strong, plays goalie/defense, and can kick the heck out of the ball, but when it comes to running is just not as fast as they are. There are two things that my child is most sensitive about: 1.being bigger than the other girls & 2. not being as fast as the other girls on the team. I am very concerned about her right now~ she cries at the drop of a hat at night, is mouthing off to her father and myself and just seems to not be herself. Her appetite is diminishing and her behavior just seems to be going downhill. I know that girls can be mean, and insenstive, but the problem here is: these girls are around all the time. I take them to practice, the hang out at the house all the time, they go out of town with us, and one of them (the one who seems to be getting meaner by the second) is set to go out of town with us next week and will be with us for nearly 2 1/2 weeks. I guess what I need help with is figuring out if continue stepping in and talking to the parents each time these 'mean' situations pop up, or do I just end the relationship. My child gets hurt by the comments that are made, but gets angry and cries when I tell her that she should just not play with them. There are many more arguments and comments other than being slow; comments about body size, exclusion from things (2 gang up on the 1), and talking about her behind her back. One of the girl's mom is working with me to talk to her daughter and mine together, just the four of us. But the other mother tells me that this is normal for little girls and that they are just mean and that they will get over it!
I know there is going to come a time when she does not want me around to protect her and help fight her battles, but right now she does and I should be there right? Or do I allow the three of them to work out their issues and step in when asked? Things never get violent, but I can sense the damage that the arguments are causing in her each night when we sit down at dinner and how she responds to conflicts within our own home. I do not want this to break her spirit of being so open to people ~ She has lots of friends, but the 3 of them seem to hang out more than all of the other friends combined (I think it is because the others never have a chance... my 7 year old is always with the 'mean' girls...I do not want her to be one of the 'mean' girls!!!)
How do I transition away from these negative relationships to healthier ones for my daughter? She deserves to be treated better and deserves to have friends that lift her up instead of tear her down? How do I tell her that I am not trying to be mean by removing her from their group, but opening up other doors to more positive things?
C.T. answers from Dallas on June 29, 2008
I would focus on teaching your daughter how to handle the situation. Explain to her that she cannot be all things. While she may not be the fastest , she is sure to be the toughest on defense. Teach her how to laugh off or blow off the comments (even if she doesn't feel that way). These other girls are only saying because it effects her and makes them feel better in some unconscious way. Forget the other mother. If she doesn't see an issue now, then she won't. But you can bet if it were me and said in my presense or when the girls were at my house, it is my right to correct the situation verbally. Explaining to the two girls that not everyone will be the best at everything etc. etc. You need to turn the extra weight or muscle on your daughter into an asset. If she believes that then she will better defend her position against these girls. I was an athlete when I was younger and went thru similar situations. I feel my father prepared me to cope with this kind of petty critisism. Unfortunatley this will continue. Kids are that way and there will always be the "mean" girls. The way your daughter handles the situation will be the difference.
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K.P. answers from Dallas on June 25, 2008
I have a 7 year old and I understand you wanting and needing to protect her. I would slowly (try not to be too obvious) withdraw her from some of their invites (not all) and maybe add in an invite with a different friend. I've noticed with some of my daughters friends that if they are 1 on 1 things are great. When you have 3 or more they tend to "pair off" and gang up on the odd person or the one they think is less "popular". So we stopped (small)group outings, unless the team was going. It will be tough, but your daughter is more important than maintaining a relationship with someone who treats her negatively. Kids can be mean at that age; however, and if the parent is excusing it as "its a stage"; ask her if she would appreciate the stage if it were her child. Parents should teach children the un-official rule of earth "treat others as you would want them to treat you". Good luck.
P.S. my husbands says tell the little mom/girl to be nice or take a hike and stay away. (men right)
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A.H. answers from Dallas on June 25, 2008
My daughter is 7 also and is in competitive cheerleading and has been since she was 5. Her first summer at camp we ran into the "mean girl" situation. I know it sounds terrible but i can't tolerate my daughter being treated bad by other girls, so i taught her what to say back to get their attention. The problem was solved quickly once the other girls realized that my daughter was not messing around and they are actually all great friends now. Not that we don't still have run ins now and then but that truly is just girls being girls. She has to learn now to stand up for herself or she will always be picked on. If it continues then i would sever the relationship with the 2 girls families. Nothing is more important than your own child. But i stand by the fact that you can teach her how to stand up for herself without her turning into one of the "mean girls"! Good luck to ya!
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M.B. answers from Dallas on June 25, 2008
I would do what one of the other moms said and try to teach her how to handle the situation and stand up for herself. She would be better off in the long run. My son plays with several other boys in the neighborhood, and when there are three or more they start to exclude others and be mean. He has come home crying many times. I just stood up and told them that if they wanted to be treated like big kids then they were going to have to act like big kids, or I could baby sit them like preschoolers. I generally punish or treat the group as a whole. When they get into any arguement or exclude one--I usually take away whatever they were playing with. Then I tell them that they have to work it out together. They usually don't want to lose what they are playing with, so eventually they work it out and don't need me to intervine. I tell them that they can not play play together if they are going to continually exclude others. They have since gotten over it and stopped--sometimes we have a few instances, but I just remind them that they will lose privledges or what they have.
I also tell my son to tell others when they hurt his feelings or to walk off when someone says something rude instead of start arguing. They are starting to deal with more "young adult" emotions and situations at this age and it is our job to teach them how to deal with it.
If you have an ordinary child who is not handed everything and they learn these things at an early age they are better off in life than say a "jock" or a more popular child, because those children look at life like everything should be handed to them. Children who learn to deal with these situations earlier already have these tools in young adult hood, and are proven to be more succesful in life. Say a child who had everything handed to them and ran over others tend to end up average, because they actually can't deal with some of the issues that life brings to them with the childish ways they learned and stuck with at an early age.
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M.D. answers from Dallas on June 25, 2008
We may need to meet- I also have a a 2 and 7 year old- both girls and Im in Crowley. My 7 yo is very passive and tends to let others push her around. (Which I absolutely cannot stand) However, we have not run into a problem with the girls being mean yet. She really has only one friend outside of school that she does things with and sometimes they start getting a little rude with each other. I find that after they have spent a day or two together is when the arguing starts. They need a break in between visits. Sounds like that is probably part of your problem- they spend too much time together. As for your vacation- thats a long time for your daughter to spend with a friend without expecting some problems. I would talk to the mom ahead of time and just have her talk with her daughter. I would also make sure that its completely okay that you are able to discipline her daughter when necessary. While it is normal for the girls to argue, Im not so sure that being mean and talking about others is normal at that age. It also seems to be a problem anytime there are 3 kids involved- someone always feels left out. Anytime my dd gets together with a group I try to make sure its an even number. Good luck to you. If you would like to meet sometime, let me know. My 7 yo also plays soccer and Im always trying to find more girls for her to play with.
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J.M. answers from Dallas on June 25, 2008
My daughter is 8 and has become very close to a girl in her class. They spend the night at each others house and spend lots of time together. A few months ago we were talking about how she is rude to her little brother when the friend is around (the friend is the youngest in her family and has no experience with younger sibs.) This talk led to my daughter telling me that her friend will not let her have other friends at school. I wanted to stop that as soon as possible and make sure that my daughter knew that was not right so that when she got into relationships with boys she knew that she did not have to deal with that kind of treatment. I explained to her that that was not fair and that she needed to to talk to the friend and tell her that that had to stop or they could not be friends anymore. I also explained that if she was not comfortable talking to her than she could go to the counselers office at school and the Mrs. Banks would help her talk to the friend. She decided to talk to the friend and everything has been good since.
I think you need to talk to your daughter and find out excatly what is going on and then offer to talk to the girls or let her talk to them. If that doesn't work then talk to the parents. I know I would want to know if my daughter was treating others that way. Good Luck!