April 03, 2012,
K.W. asks from Reno, NV on April 01, 2012
How Do I Handle My Daughter's Competitive Friend?
I really need some advice on how to handle this situation. I am really stressing out and losing sleep because it involves people that I consider very good friends and would prefer not to jeopardize our friendships.
My DD is 8 years old and her friend is 7 months younger. Both attended the same school from preschool through 1st grade and are now in second grade in different schools. For as long as I have known DD's friend, she has been extremely competitive with everyone and has really been "obsessed" with my daughter--wanting to be like her in almost every way. It didn't bother me at first since I figured it was something she would outgrow. My daughter has more of a mellow tempermant and doesn't need to be the center of attention.
A few years ago, my daughter started doing gymnastics. A few months later, her friend joined the same gym. It didn't take long for her to catch up to where my DD was. Luckily, the friend decided to quit gymnastics to do something else at the time when my daughter tested up to the next level. In coversations with her mom (who is a very good friend), she explained the friend is "so competitive" and practiced all the time. She has to be the best or she doesn't want to play. These were her words. My DD is not like that. She left gymnastics at the gym after class.
During that same year my daughter also started doing ballet. The next year, DD quit gymnastics and added hip hop and tap to her dance schedule. One month later, friend had to join the hip hop class. This year, DD moved up to Primary 3 ballet, added jazz and continued with hip hop and tap. Friend had to add tap and jazz too! So basically, friend is in all classes except ballet. Again, friend has to be the best so practice, practice, practice!! It has gotten to the point where they need to be seperated during class. One cannot speak to the other without it turning into "drama" or one being "bossy."
Now, friend wants to add ballet too next year and has insisted to my DD that she is going to start at Grade I with her next year. So, what took my daughter 3 years to accomplish, friend is going to do without even taking one ballet class. This really isn't going to happen but this is how DD sees it.
The two of them have such different personalities. DD is more reserved and quiet but not shy. Friend is competive and will practice all the time. I do see it as a good quality--it's just a difference in personality and I really question her motivation and believe she does it to outshine DD. Friend has to be the center of attention and has no problem rubbing her successes or triumphs in my daughter's face.
There have been issues outside of dance as well. Everytime friend comes over, she inventories what is hanging in my daughter's closet. Frequently, she will purchase the same item that my daughter has which just this year, started annoying my daughter. Friend's mom even said to me that her DD wants to be just like my DD.
For Christmas, my DD got a fuzzy chair for her room. When friend saw it, she said, "Oh I have one just like this, but we keep it at my Grandma's house." Probably not true.
Here is a more recent example. Both girls were assigned a research paper at school. Friend had to pick a famous person, write a biography and then they got to dress up like that person for a day. DD had to choose a native animal and then make a diorama. Friend saw the diorama the day before it was due and the very next day, she informed me that she had a conversation with her mom about the diorama and that her mom explained to her that it was fair that she got to dress up and that DD had to do a diorama. Is she really jealous of the fact that DD had to make a diorama for school???
Another example. The two moms and two girls went and did something together. On our way out, someone commented how cute friend's coat was. DD was wearing a sweatshirt. All I heard on the way home was friend telling DD that the lady liked her coat and not DD's coat. Friend's mom didn't say a word.... I was so angry but didn't feel that it was my place to say something to friend.
Yesterday, I spoke with the director of the dance studio and had her reassure me that friend would not be in Grade I with DD next year and she did but did say that pretty much both girls will be moving up to intermediate tap, hip hop and jazz together. Again, except for hip hop, what took my daughter two years, took friend 1 year. I get that practice make perfect but DD has totally picked up that friend is moving up at a quicker pace. DD broke down yesterday and told me she doesn't want to dance anymore. She doesn't even want to look into a new dance school. She feels crowded and what used to be her thing to do, is now friend's thing to do and she's going to do whatever it takes to outshine DD. We're doing some different activities for the summer and have kept them secret because I don't want friend to do them too. DD cried that friend is better than her in everything--tap, hip hop, jazz, gymnastics and school.
I've seen my daughter's nose being rubbed in it a lot and am just fed up. I really would hate to see my daughter give up dance just because of this friend. I just don't know what to do.
Please don't think that I am one of those moms that is just bitter because my daughter is not the best. It's not that at all. Other than the competitiveness, friend is a great kid. I truly believe that they would be better friends if they didn't do the same activities. It's just how it is affecting her and her self esteem. We've definately put some distance between us but they still see eachother at least 3 times a week.
I am so afraid to talk to friend's mom because I don't want anything to be misinterpreted and don't want to lose the friendships.
So What Happened?™
Hi ladies. First, I would like to thank all of your for your input on this situation. I don't have a mother or mother-in-law (or much family at all) that I can run to for advice so I really appreciate it.
I had a wonderful talk with friend's mom. It went much better than I thought it would. I tried to be as diplomatic about it at as possible as both girls have their faults. I approached her and explained that I have noticed a lot of tension between the girls and asked her that we work together to help them through this and to give them the necessary tools to communicate what is bothering them. She was very receptive and I reassured her that I value our friendship and the friendship of the girls. Pretty much, both girls have complained about the same troubles. I also explained how my daughter feels about her friend wanting to do all the same activities and Mom completely gets where my daughter is coming from. She even offered to pull her daughter out of two of the classes if it would help over the next two months. I didn't think that was fair to her daughter as she's worked hard all year and the recital is just two months away. However, I do think her plan is to find a different dance school for next year as friend is pretty determined to continue with tap and hip hop and start ballet next year. We've agreed to maintain their friendship outside of activities.
Whew!!! It honestly could not have gone better for me.
K.B. answers from Tulsa on April 01, 2012
I had a mom do this to a lesser extent. Her d was a classic mean girl.
If you find a dance studio you could pull the owner aside and say this woman and her d are following you. Explain it. Ask the owner if she can keep them out of your d's class if they try to come.
A private school principal told me she made it clear to the girl's mom if the girl came here they do NOT tolerate mean girl behavior/relational aggression. The parents would have to leave work to have a meeting and take their child home each time it happened. The mom was intimidated into not coming by being told up front it would not be tolerated.
The girls are not friends because I got sick of it and told my D either people are our friends or they are not They don't get to backstab and hate us when in public then beg to come play when they are bored on the weekend.
Plus, my daughter's selfesteem is rising and she is making new friends!
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K.B. answers from Detroit on April 01, 2012
I agree that this other girl cannot enroll herself into these classes and activities, her mother has to do it for her, and maybe her mother sees her daughter's competitive attitude as a good thing, or at least does not see anything negative about it.
Just like some adults are more "Type A" or "Type B", I think kids can be too. Your daughter sounds more B, this other girl sounds more A. The thing is, whether it is a positive or a negative, it all depends on where it is coming from. Some people want to be the best that THEY can be, and are not out to squash others in the process. Others are massively insecure and feel like their very image and indentity depends on being better at something than everyone else, AND making sure they know it.
Maybe it would help if you talked to your daughter and explained that her "friend" is acting this way possibly out of envy and jealousy and insecurity and she needs to learn to not let it bother her. Her friend is the one with the problem, not her. I know that's hard, and sometimes telling kids just to have a thicker skin is not enough, but it does go a long way in preparing them for the real world and teaching them to stand up for themselves and not let everyone intimidate them. And your daughter needs to see that if someone is really your friend, they won't try to constantly "outshine" you and make it their focus to feel better about themselves by putting you down.
You might be afraid to talk to the mom, and possibly lose the friendship, but I think you might want to ask yourself if this is a friendship worth keeping. Kids learn behavior from how their parents behave - if you are reluctant to stand up to this other girl's mom (i.e., the coat incident), your daughter may not know how to stand up to this other girl. Sometimes I think we are so trained to be "nice" that we end up being door mats instead and don't say anything for fear of rocking the boat. I'm not saying that to be mean in any way - I can be the same way myself and have been since childhood, but I am trying to teach my daughter differently in the hope that she won't struggle like I did. You can be friends with someone but if they are going to just walk all over you, they are not someone worth being friends with.
My daughter is only 4 but there was another little girl in her preschool class who sometimes acts like her friend and sometimes gives her the cold shoulder, and basically can act like a brat - and then my daughter was getting all upset because she wanted so badly to be this other girl's friend. I let her know that the other girl was one with the problem, not her. But when I was helping out with the class one day and basically caught this other little girl being a meanie to my daughter, I called her out on it and flat-out told her that we don't treat our friends this way and she needed to be nice to everyone, including DD. My daughter heard the whole thing and she just got the happiest, most relieved look on her face - and later told me, "Thank you Mommy...for telling S to be nice to me." It made all the difference in the world to her to know that Mommy was in her corner and had her back. At this age, I can't make anyone be DD's friend - and I wouldn't want to. But I can make sure that DD knows how to stand up for herself, and I can remind other kids that we don't treat other people this way.
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T.S. answers from San Francisco on April 01, 2012
I wouldn't talk to the mom, she'll probably just be defensive.
Keep encouraging your daughter to do HER best and not play into the other girl's drama. She's going to encounter girls (and women) like this for the rest of her life. Empower her. Help her develop the confidence to stand up for herself, that's the key to real self esteem. Role play with her. When the girl is saying something hurtful, your daughter needs to say, "hey, that really hurts when you say that" or "I don't feel like you're being a good friend when you say/do that."
Also, your daughter MAY want to give up dance for other reasons, not just because of this drama. She may be just using that as an excuse. Sometimes kids don't want to disappoint their parents so they look for an excuse or an "out." Why not let her take a break from dance over the summer? If she truly loves it she will go back.
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C.M. answers from Chicago on April 01, 2012
I see what you mean, and there ARE people out there like that!
The "friend" is not a friend. A friend is not someone who wants to be better than you and compete with you. A friend is not someone who makes you feel bad. I think you need to coach DD and help her to get rid of this friend. If your DD likes this girl then you need to teach her how to control her friend's behavior. She needs to learn how to make comments like " Friend, I know that woman said she liked your coat but you are being mean about it to me and hurting my feelings so please stop."
This girl is walking all over your daugher because of jealousy and it needs to stop. People are victims because they ALLOW people to walk all over them. It's good lessons for life to teach your daughter that she is no one's launch pad. She can be honest and firm with this girl--but you're going to have to coach her and have her practice what she's going to say in certain scenerios.
I think you should talk to the dance studio and tell them what's been happening. They won't want to lose a student so see if you can work something out or at least have the teacher keep an eye on things.
This girl seems to have low self esteem and it's not a BAD thing that she practices hard but your daughter is not her competition. She needs to learn to channel her competitive spirit!
Also, if you can, talk to the girls' mom. Do things in a nice way and say things like "I love Friend's spirit, but sometimes she makes my daughter feel bad without meaning to. She is so competitive and I'm afraid it's ruining the girls' relationship. I'd hate to see that happen because they are such good friends..."
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A.D. answers from Minneapolis on April 01, 2012
What are you afraid to lose? This girl is causing your DD a great deal of stress. And her Mom is the one who makes all the copying possible. Mom is signing her up for everything the same. Mom buys the clothes, etc. Sounds like maybe Mom is a big influence on the competitiveness. She isn't leading her DD to find or pick her own activities, or her own style. Now that the girls go to different schools it should be easier to seek out different friends and activities. You can't control where they sign their DD up for things, but I totally think you're on the right track not sharing your summer activity plans with them. As far as dance goes, I think your DD just has to make a choice. Quit, stay and put with with the friend, or find a new dance studio. It should be up to your DD, I would support her choice. And also encourage more activites away from the competitive girl.
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L.A. answers from Austin on April 01, 2012
I know this will be hard, but stay out of it.. If they want to spend their lives following you all around.. That is their loss. Just try to not speak so much about what your daughter is up to. This way it will not be so tempting.
Eventually, hopefully this girl/mother team will find things that they like to do.
My new business partner has kind of the same situation due to circumstance. She and another one of our mutual friends have daughters the same age, live blocks from each other and for whatever reason.. their daughters have always ended up in the same clubs, events and interest.. They are both in advanced classes.. etc. This started back in kinder, where they first met..
It is of course because both girls are so much alike ,attend the same schools, and tend to have the same friends.
But the other mom has begun to show signs of feeling like now her daughter is not being able to be her own person. Even though the girls are not trying to one up each other.
My business partners daughter was made Capt of the drill team for this coming fall, even though the other as a junior was a 1st Lieutenant, this year . Traditionally this usually means she would have been Capt. this year. It was thankfully judged by a panel of dance instructors not any from this school.
The girls really try not to compare or to get into this stuff, but it just always seems to happen.
I already warned my Business Partner to make sure these girls do not end up at the same University.. Can you imagine Rush with the Sororities?.. Yes, both moms were in the same Sororities, but different schools back in the day.. Good Grief.
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L.S. answers from San Francisco on April 01, 2012
It sounds like this "friend" has her own issues to deal with. I would encourage your daughter to make other friendships. Why don't you want to lose the friendships? They don't sound healthy at all. This might be a question you will want to explore. I tend to be a pleaser, so I'll avoid hurting someone's feelings at the expense of my own needs. Can you relate to that at all? I'm learning to factor my own needs into the equation.
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T.S. answers from Atlanta on April 01, 2012
I do believe that we all have that one family that does everything we do. They have to trump your card or at least equal up to it. I get to see that in our neighborhood we buy an American flag and post three houses down they do the same kinda like "Keeping up with the Jones-es" so to say. We do things to being us joy not to out beat someone else but you have adults and there children that will do that. In a way it is flattering in another it's plan annoying. The thing is the apple doesn't fall far from the tree that is a learned behavior and they mostly learn it from the parents mother or father. I would just keep my distance and always remember Loose Lips Sink Ships. If you dont want them doing the things your doing dont give them the information. If she is coming over going through your daughters closet dont allow her to do so. If you dont slowly make distance between her and the child you are going to have hard core jealousy issues from this family later on in life me personally cut your bait and move along. Now people might not like what I have to say and thats ok but that is my opinion. Good luck !!!
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