My Daughter Has a Problem with Her Friend

Updated on August 29, 2008
L.H. asks from New Alexandria, PA
11 answers

My daughter is seven. She is the youngest in the family. She has a friend who is a year older. The friend is the youngest in her family also. They have known each other for about five years. We come in contact with the friend's family several times a week. The problem is: When my daughter and her friend play together alone, they usually get along great. When there is another child of around the same age present, my daughter's friend pairs off with the other child and either ignores my daughter, or teases her. Most of the time the other child joins in with the friend and treats my daughter the same way.

This upsets my daughter very much. She is very hurt. She says she doesn't want to be friends with the girl anymore. But she decides to forgive her the next time they are together. My daughter does tend to exaggerate sometimes, but I have seen her friend in this kind of behaviour more than once. My daughter doesn't want me to talk to the girl's mother about it. Besides I'm not sure if it would do any good. I'm sure the mother would try to make her daughter behave, but the girl is very strong willed. Her parents do correct her when she misbehaves, but she does the same thing again when they aren't around. When the girl behaves this way when I am present, I do talk with her about it, but that hasn't done any good either.

It is impossible for us to avoid the girl's family. This is not happening during arranged playdates where we can just go home or ask the girl to go home. It is during church and social activities that are unavoidable. I want my daughter to be a forgiving person and learn to get along with others, but I don't want her to be a doormat either. What can I do to help her deal with this situation?

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers

More Answers



answers from York on

This is all too common. I'm surprised you didn't experience it with your older daughters. Your youngest is already a forgiving person. I think we're born that way then get jaded as life hands us continual hurts. But at age 7 all she wants is her friend. It's ok for her to forgive, she won't be a dormat. It's one of those child-like qualities the Lord loves so much. It would be good for you to encourage your daughter to tell her friend how she feels, that she doesn't like it when friend says mean things and ignores her. That's all she can do. I'd consider talking to the mom about it depending on your relationship with her. Kids have a way of working these things out between themselves but if it becomes necessary for you to step in then go for it. You can be discreet and ask the other mom not to make it obvious either. Tell the mom what you've observed and ask her to keep an eye out too, that way she sees her daughter's behavior and talks to her on their own.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi L., Welcome the the problem of three! I have discovered (with my three girls & their friendss) that three is an awful number no matter how old the child is. Someone is ALWAYS on the outside looking in! Someone is always fussing, whinning, loosing, feeling leftout and when there are three children involved it is always the youngest or the child that is more timid, shy or shows any kind of "weakness" that is the one that is teased or leftout.
My suggestion is that you take a friend with you. When you even out the numbers those problems tend to disapear, or take care of themselves. Encourage your daughter to confront the other child herself...if she doesn't want you to talk to the mother (which I think you should do anyway!) Telling the child what she is doing and how it makes her feel should help. Good luck and best wishes!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Hi L.,

I wish I had a quick and easy answer for you. My son had a similar problem with our good friends' son - who is my Godson. We would go over to our friends' house a lot on Sundays, and our kids would play together. However, whenever my Godson had another friend over, the same thing happened -- my Godson and his friend would tease my son and not include him. I told my son just to come hang with us (the adults) whenever the problems would arise. My friends didn't understand why my son couldn't "just get along" with the other kid, so I would just say that sometimes three is a crowd. After a while, my friends caught on and stopped allowing other kids to come over when we were there.

There are some kids who just change their behaviors and attitudes depending on who they are with. Also, when kids tease other kids, it is often a lack of confidence. They have to pick on others to feel better about themselves.

You don't want your daughter to think that is the correct way to handle things, so why not stop the play date whenever there is an issue like this? Let your daughter know that if she is in a situation where she is uncomfortable or being picked on, she doesn't have to sit there and take it. Eventually, I think the other mom and maybe even the friend will get it.

You could also talk to your daughter and say that sometimes it's hard for her friend to be with two friends at the same time, and that's why this situation happens. That might help your daughter to be forgiving and learn to get along with others, without making your daughter feel like she has to be a doormat to get along.

Can you tell I get a little emotional thinking about this scenario : )

Good luck.



answers from State College on

Help her find other friends, get her sisters to back her up. Barbara Collorosa has a book, The bully, the bullied, and the bystander. It talks about social exclusion as a form of bullying and how best to handle it. I had this problem and it was a pain, I had to get involved regularly. If they are together and another kid is involved YOU need to plan an activity or find someone else for her to play with. The girl likes the power she holds and it's too subtle to always track. The best thing is to have a bystander training on how to handle bullies that also addresses social exclusion(more common in girls) for your whole church or Homeschooling assoc. or both to teach all the kids to not tolerate it.



answers from Philadelphia on

Good morning L.,

I think you should speak to the girls parents about this behavior that her daughter is doing. Yes your daughter can be forgiving but she should not be picked on or teased that is not a good friend. My grandmother always told us when we were growing up that there where two kinds of friends a so call friend and a real friend. A so call friend would not treat you right only when they wanted too but a real friend would treat you right and be there for you no matter what. If this little girl is still not treating your daughter right then you should explain to your daughter to play with someone else. This may bring the other girl around to understand if she does not treat your daughter right that she will not play with her. Hope this helps.




answers from Pittsburgh on

What is it about groups of three for play that just doesn't work? Just seems to always be one odd man out and unfortunately, seems to be your daughter. Sounds like you are doing everything you can do to try to handle this situation and make it as good as it can be. Maybe try to focus on the one-on-one play dates and also try to find a different friend that she can also spend some time with--without the other girl. Tell your daughter that if her feelings are getting hurt, it's OK to end the playing and come home. Tell her it's also OK to express her feelings to her friend directly. Is it possible that they spend TOO much time together? I think when 2 kids are together too often and too exclusively, they tend to treat each other more like siblings--not always in a good way.
Good luck!



answers from Pittsburgh on

How unfortunate, but you can also treat this as a learning opportunity for your daughter, because of course, this is not the first and not the last time that she will experience this. I had a "friend" that was sometimes my best friend and sometimes my absolute enemy for many many years, through middle and high school, and it was a very confusing scenario. You can help her learn who her real friends are, and you can tell her that you will help her to find a way to get along with the other girl, but not to be fooled into thinking that she is really a friend, because friends do not treat you meanly. By about sophomore year in high school, I found that the best thing for me was to ignore the other girl when she was acting terrible, and I'd accept her and enjoy her when she was being nice, but I was usually on guard for the next time she would be terrible, so I stopped confiding in her, etc., so that she could not use confidences against me at a later time. In other words, although I could enjoy her (because she was a nice girl, she just had some insecurity problems that translated into a need to compete with and be better then other people with resulting occasional meanness), I recognized that she was not a true friend. I also just eventually kinda felt sorry for her, because I saw that she would never be able to make a real friend with this behavior pattern, and would be lonely acting that way. I just never fully trusted her, and then I was able to protect myself, and I did not give her the power to hurt me. It worked. When I recognized that the problem did not stem from me, and that there was nothing that I could do to prevent how this other girl behaved, it made things easier. I definitely distanced myself when she was being nasty, and usually, to a certain extent, I did it when she was nice, as well, for protection. She was in most of classes for all of those years, so I, too, could not avoid her completely. The fighting ended, and things were just oh so much easier. I did my thing, and stopped caring about what she thought, so she lost the power to hurt me.

My parents never understood my trials fully, they always made friends easily growing up, and of course, thought I was wonderful. They floundered, and I did have to learn these things on my own, which ultimately, your daughter does, too, but the best thing that they did for me was tell me all the time how wonderful that they thought I was and how proud of me that they were, and that they just couldn't understand why the other person, whoever it was, didn't see what they saw, and that it was their loss. And I had extensive family who also told me these things. Eventually, when I began to have successes in things and had real friends who supported me, and I knew what a friend was, I believed it myself.

I would tell your daughter that the only thing that she can control in life, is her response to what life throws at her. So if this girl is not being nice, she has choices in how she can respond. She can be hurt, or she can decide to respond in a way that makes it clear that how the other girl is behaving is wrong, and that since she is being mean, she chooses not to play with her until she decides to be nice. If she does not let the other girl see that she is hurt by the behavior, some of the fun and power is taken away. You can teach her to try and be strong for herself. Then remind her of this situation when she engages in the same behavior. (It is likely that she will at some point, I don't know why girls, and even women, feel this need to exclude other girls and women to feel better about themselves. It may be out of relief that she isn't the one being picked on.)

Unless you observe that the behavior is getting really destructive, to the point where you think your daughter's mental or physical health is really being affected, as we know can happen, I would not necessarily involve the parents, because I think that sometimes worsens the situation between the kids. Or, take a passive/aggressive opportunity to address it, if you hear the other little girl's mom complaining about a similar situation, say, yes, my daughter has a hard time dealing with that when you daughter does it to her, it is rough. There are subtle ways to let a parent know, without being confrontational.

When you hear how the other girl is behaving from your daughter, criticize the behavior, say that you understand how hurtful that was, etc., but don't say that she is terrible, etc., because the other little girl is also a child, for one, and may be going through something, and may not behave like that forever. Like the other ladies here said, give her ways to respond. Show her how her own behavior and response can give her power over the situation, if not the girl. And at some point, kids need to learn to handle these situations on their own, so we need to help them gain the skills to handle the issues. It's hard for kids to understand that someone that they like can be mean, and not necessarily good for them, and separate all that very complicated stuff. It's pretty sophisticated, some adults never get the hang of it. Above all, teach her to respect herself and be strong, and others will eventually follow suit. Ultimately, she is the only one who can do that, and it may take a while.

As a mom, make sure that she has plenty of opportunities to shine and be good at things. And be a good role model -- don't let your daughter hear you talking about other moms, criticizing their clothes, their mom skills, etc., save those conversations for when she is out of hearing or, better yet, skip them entirely. I eventually started to play sports, and my successes there really strenghtened my self esteem. And other friends who are supportive and good to her. And home should always be a haven. Then, there is just the one bad egg in the bunch, and the bad egg can't really do much to hurt her. (I had a bit of a rough time growing up, if you couldn't tell, but really, I wouldn't change any of it, because those early lessons, although difficult, have served me very well as an adult, since I developed into an independent, strong woman.) Good luck.



answers from Lancaster on

My mom said YEARS ago that girls do this often - and while raising my own I see it also. Girls tend to "pair off" - I don't know why - and not all girls do it, but you see it alot. Myabe that's a big difference socially between girls and boys - you can throw 25 boys in a room and they seem fine, but girls will pair off, and there will be one left. I have always told my girls to treat people how they want to be treated, and that when someone excludes them it hurts their feelings, but remember that so they don't hurt someone else's feelings the same way. I also acknowledge that I don't agree with the behavior, and suggest they find someone else in the group to play with - someone who will be a nicer friend - and really I think that's about all you can do.



answers from Philadelphia on

Dear L.,

Wouldn't it be great if we could keep all the pain and hurt away from our children, only it wouldn't help them very much would it? One suggestion is to share similar experiences that you may have had as a child. When my daughter experienced a bully situation, I shared my bully experience with her and we laughed and she felt better because she didn't feel like she was the only one. A tool that we use in our home all the time is role playing. My son had a friend who kept yelling at him and his friends. Instead of running away from the situation, we gave him the words to use and eventually he stopped. Help give her the words she needs so she can stand up in those situations in a loving way and if the girl teases her, you can point out that her friend might be hurting in some way that she needs to tease. Her friend probably doesn't understand the impact of her actions. Sounds like perhaps a break from the friend might help as well and perhaps introduce her to some new friends. Our children will experience many injustices throughout their whole lives just as we did. We can draw on our own experiences and use them as a learning tool -- to teach about friendship, apathy, empathy, sympathy, love, etc. Draw on historical figures and point out how difficult it was for someone like Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King and how they felt left out, too. As a christian family, we prayed about our bully situation and specifically for this girl who must have been lacking something in her life (how sad). We prayed for her for two years and this year, the girl has been transferred to another school. This taught our daughter about patience and waiting for God's timing and that it isn't always our timing. A good book that might help is called My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig. It's about a girl who has a friend who is sometimes her friend and sometimes her bully. Best to you.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I have two suggestions. First, when possible, maybe allow your daughter to invite another friend along to the events. It will give your daughter an opportunity to play with someone who hopefully is a better friend. Second, practice things your daughter can do or say when the other girl treats her badly. Let her know that it is okay to say, "I don't like how you are treating me. See ya." Let her know she doesn't have to dislike this girl or be mean to her, just that she doesn not have to play with anyone who doesn't treat her well.

Next question: Any Way to Get Girl to Stop Targeting a Specific Girl?