Mean Little Girl

Updated on May 25, 2007
A.H. asks from Sussex, NJ
5 answers

My daughter is 3 1/2 years old and we have play dates with the little irl next door. The little girl has a little brother,2 years old. my daughter is extremly mean to him, pushing and yelling everytime he even looks at her. She shares her toys well and behaves well with most everybody else. This always ruins the fun he is having with her friend, because I end up having to leave because she acts so horribly to the poor little boy. I hate to see this be the end of her get-to-gethers with the little girl,but I don't know how to get her to be nice enough to allow her to continue these play dates.

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answers from New York on

Hi A.,
Your in a tough situation but I'll try to help. Is the little boy's sister mean to him? If not it may be that there's something about this little boy that really irritates your daughter. Ask her why she's mean to the little boy - it could be that he is annoying her when no one is looking. Make sure she understands that she not be punished for explaining her feelings. Sympathize with her feelings but at the same time make sure she understands her behavior is not appropriate.
Another thing I would pay close attention to is how your older son acts toward your daughter when he has friends over. My 17 y/o used to be very mean to my 15 y/o when her friends came over but only when she thought I wasn't able to see/hear her. This made my 15 y/o act mean to younger kids when she played with friends because "that's how sissy plays".
Hope all turns out well. Have a good day - C.



answers from New York on


All of the other posters' advice is great. My only idea is to have the little girl from next door come to your house without her brother to play, until you can get a better handle on your daughters' behavior toward the little guy. You don't want to end her playdates, because it sounds like she really needs the socialization time to hone her people skills.

How is she with your niece? Is she gentle with the baby? If she is, that's a good sign, because it means her nurturing and empathy skills are growing the way they should be. It may just be as simple as she doesn't like this kid. I've seen it happen. We go to a lot of play groups and a Mommy & Me class, and I've seen situations where kids just rub each other the wrong way. THere's one kid in my son's class who just hates him. My son ever did anything to the kid, and is a nice little guy to play with in general, but this little boy just hates him. And the kid is nice and well-behaved with all of the other kids in class. He just dislikes Mike.

I feel terrible for the boy's Mom, because I can see she's embarassed, and confused by her normally good kid's behavior, but there's not a lot you can do to make your kid like someone. You can teach that the behavior is inappropriate, but even that is going to be hit and miss at 3 1/2. Good luck. Try to keep in mind that we (the other Mommies) know it's not your fault, and you're not a bad Mom because your daughter doesn't behave perfectly all the time. All kids do it at some point or other. She'll learn.




answers from New York on

I am the mom of a 16 y/o and a 12 y/o. I went through this with both of them I think it is common in little girls.

What popped into my head immediately is the knowledge that my kids treat others the way they are treated. Your daughter may be on the receiving end of some meanness, and feeling powerless about it. Pay attention to how you and others in the family speak to her. I know with my girls My husband and I were sometimes not very polite to them! She probably sees that little boy as less powerful than her and a good "target" for her pent-up aggressions. That is, by the way, very common in kids and there is nothing the matter with your daughter.

When you see her being mean, intervene immediately telling her that that behavior is not OK! and explain what you expect of her, and what the consequences will be if she continues. Then follow through! I also would ask her how she thinks that little boy feels when she does that to him. Use empathy building exercises. And again watch how your daughter is being treated at home ( or in preschool).



answers from New York on

Hi A.,
I have a similar situation with a next door neighbor, but I am on the other end. I have 2 sons, 6 and 4, and my neighbor's son is 7. I have had many issues with him coming to my house and being very mean to my 4yr old. So, let me start by saying that I really appreciate that you are acknowledging your daughter's behavior and addressing it, because my neighbor is not.

I tried many things with him, but what eventually worked (but still not every time) is that I put myself in his shoes. I started thinking that maybe it's not fair to expect the 6-7 yr olds to be able to play with a 4 yr old. So I sat him down with my boys and had a talk with them. I told them that I understand that sometimes playing with someone younger can be frustrating, but that it's never all right to be mean to him about it. So we came to an agreement that if my 4yr old starts getting on the big one's nerves, they come and tell me and I will do something else with him. I also made a no crying rule, so that if anyone starts crying, he goes home.

It doesn't help that he is not disciplined at home, but we have come a long way here. When I forget to remind him about the rules we still have problems, so I try to remind him every time that I see him. Heck, sometimes I have to remind myself not to get annoyed with some of the things that my little one does, so how can I expect a 7yr old to, but I still can't let him be mean to my son.

It is better when my older son goes to my neighbor's house, so maybe you could try having you daughter's friend come to your house. 2 yr olds are just getting started to get into everything, so it is probably really hard for your daughter to deal with that. Babies don't want to take your stuff, so she probably does fine with your niece.

So, because of my own experience, what I would say is that if the other mother can't distract the 2yr old and keep him from playing with the girls, than maybe they should play at your house and that that's OK becasue those are very hard ages to play together. It doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with your daughter or with your neighbor's son. They are just not the right ages to be playing together. And who knows, maybe in 30 years you'll be telling this story at their wedding!

Well, good luck with this situation. I'm sure that everything will work itself out OK. Sorry for writing so much.




answers from New York on

Its very hard when caught in the moment to think your reactions through entirely. I notice that when my 2 year old and 3 year old boys fight and are mean to eachother that they react to my reactions more so than eachothers. Instead of scolding the bad behavior (rewarding negative attention), try rushing in and rewarding the good behavior gestures (rewaridng positive attention), and your daughter will realize that she like's the postive attention much more so than the negative. It takes time because she's currently used to acting negative towards him now. If you step-in with non-chalant positive reinforcement over very small gestures on her part, I think you will really notice a difference over time.

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