My Daughter Is Being Alienated

Updated on October 17, 2008
E.W. asks from Chattanooga, TN
17 answers

Hi ladies,

I have a 7 year old who has some learning disabilities and it has put her a little behind children her age. She is in special education at school and is in the second grade right where she is supposed to be for her age. We have also moved a lot in the past 4 years and making friends hasn't been easy for her as she is extremely shy.

There are 3 other girls in my complex. A pair of sisters, one happens to be in my daughters class at school and the other one is 9 years old, the only child of a single mom and you can tell she gets what she wants when she wants it. Well, when my daughter is playing with the two sisters, this girl comes over starts playing with them and alienates my daughter. This girl used to play with my daughter all the time until these 2 girls moved in. Now today, my daugter had been playing with her school mate whom she considers is her best friend. This other little girl called to ask if she could come over and play with my daughter. Well when she got here and found out that one of the other girls was here, she started playing only with the other girl and my daughter was ignored. We had also had plans for her girlfriend to spend the night tonight and when she was called home, my daughter watched her and her sister go over to the other girls house I am assuming to spend the night as we never saw them go back home. My little girl cried for an hour and finally fell asleep on the couch. She is restless, crying in her sleep and has already fallen off the couch. She has asked me why this girl was so mean to her and I just don't know how to make her understand why people are the way they are.

I don't know if I should say something to the mother about her daughters behavior or just let nature take its course. As I said my daughter is very shy and doesn't know how to interject herself into the play time or conversation when this girl is around. Both mother and daughter can be overbearing and I don't want to alienate any one here as it may back fire on me and my daughter won't have anyone to play with then. Any suggestions on how to deal with this situation would be helpful.

Thanks in advance!!

E.

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So What Happened?

Thank you to all of you who answered my request!! I have recieved some wonderful advise and a lot to think about on how my daughter is, how I have cushioned her from the world and how to now deal with it.
Tonight when I came home and found her sitting out side alone, I made her come in. Of course she cried and told me that 'broke up with Chloe', her best friend. She wasn't clear on what she said to her and she started crying. I firmly told her to stop crying and start acting like a little girl and not a baby. That if she wasn't going to stand up for herself and start taking more part of the activities, no matter what this other girl does to her, that I wouldn't allow her to play with any of them anymore. Well, she went outside and apologized to her friend. The older sister then played peacemaker and got everyone to hug and apologize. She looked so happy with them I didn't even call her in for dinner!
When I brought her in at dark, she told me what happened and was so happy. They all 4 of them played together, no problems and my Beth came in with no tears. I will wait and see what happens now and how all of them will treat each other

I will be getting the books that a few of you mentioned and will try to be a more responsive mom to my daughters needs. I can now admit to myself that I did give more comfort than solutions to my daughter. Thank you all for your help and prayers. I will keep you all in mine also.

E.

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P.J.

answers from Nashville on

There is a wonderful program in Rutherford County for disabled kids and adults. My daughter is in it and they do all kinds of sports for them. My duaghter is 31 now and has been shuned all her life because of her disabilities. The website is www.capetn.org. I know what you are going through, it is heartbreaking to watch others pick on them. This program does bowling, hockey, baseball, basketball that is geared just for them. We love it! If you would like to email me I will give you more info? This Sat. we are going to see the Predators, they gave CAPE tickets for about 30 of us to go. My email is [email protected]____.com if you would like more info or go to the website.

P.

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M.T.

answers from Raleigh on

Unfortunately, pairing off in new ways and hanging out with "new" friends is a normal, common part of childhood. It's going to happen all along the way, so do what you can to teach your daughter how to respond. You could try role playing with your daughter to help teach her ways of entering into play with other kids--it's not a natural skill. Come up with different situations and coach her on what to say and how to act and give her a chance to act those scenes out with you.

I would also follow the advice of getting your daughter involved in some extra-curricular activity (what about Brownies?), and perhaps limiting play at your house to just one other girl at a time.

I wouldn't say anything to the other mothers just yet since this sounds like it's behavior you've only seen once so far. If you do have all the girls over at once, interject yourself if you see the kids excluding your daughter or anyone else. You could quietly remind your daughter how to get back in the mix. And if that doesn't work, you can talk with all the girls about how it feels to be left out of a group, and let them know that while they're at your place, they all need to be included. If you have to tell them all that over and over, then mention it to the other moms and see what you all can do together to help all of the girls navigate through this issue. Good luck!

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A.R.

answers from Knoxville on

Maybe she needs to know that it is OK to stick up for herself. Lets face it life can be cruel. I would probably tell my daughter to let that bossy girl know that she is part of the group and she doesn't like her being rude. It may take some courage but maybe you can practice what she might say to someone if they are being rude to her. It might be easier for her to be more assertive if she already knows what she is going to say. Maybe she could say something like "I don't like the way you are treating me and I am going to keep playing even if you don't like it." Or maybe "If you don't like me maybe YOU should leave." This may sound corny but have her look in the mirror and let her see her facial expressions. Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. I think it will be very possible for your daughter to be sweet and kind without being a doormat. My sister used to be like your daughter she is 32 now and has unleashed her inner you know what. No one picks on her anymore. I just wish she would have discoverd this part of herself as a youngster. It would have saved me a lot of playground fights sticking up for her. I also have only one very special little girl. I had a very difficult pregnancy and lost a baby. I am very lucky as well.

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B.L.

answers from Jacksonville on

This might be a little different from most responses... It must be agonizing to watch. My favorite parenting author, John Rosemond, says that when parents "run interference" in their kids' lives, they hinder them in their development of these social skills. He recommnends, instead of getting in the middle of the troubles with the other girls, letting her learn to handle it herself - or she never will learn to be assertive or how to make friends, or how to avoid hurtful people. He suggests making an occasional comment to get her thinking of how to solve her problems and to point her in the right direction, perhaps something like: "wow, I wouldn't want to play with someone who acts so mean". Perhaps discuss it a bit with the mother of the two girls and invite only the younger one over for one-on-one play. Also, to help her take the focus off herself and her sadness so much, suggest that (at school at least) she find someone who needs a friend, instead of waiting for someone to find her. This is a life skill.

Also, I know people mean well, but it doesn't do children good to over praise them and tell them continuously how wonderful they are. I also get this from John Rosemond. That doesn't build self esteem (ego and self centeredness perhaps, but not true self esteem). Self esteem comes from accomplishment. Instead of focusing on these children as much, you might teach her some new skills and give her things to do and think about, such as making cookies as was suggested, or get a keyboard and a very basic book that you could start teaching her to play the piano with (music expands the brain in so many ways, and you could certainly walk her through the first book or two). You might find a good used one on craigslist or something.

You could find a simple book on cross stitch or embroidery, or even sometimes they have free flyers at craft stores (like Michaels) and find some simple project for her to do. Learning a new skill and creating something would develop true self esteem.

If you're allowed pets where you live you might get her something like a cat (spend time with it before you pick one out to see if it's going to be a match) or guinea pigs are supposed to make great pets, or even gold fish. Teach her to be responsible for it so she can have someone else to focus on and care for. You might sign up for www.freecycle.org in your area and watch for when someone is offering a small fish tank (for free), if money is tight. Right now it is truly a sad time for her, so the best thing to do would be to get her mind off her troubles and develop her personality a little more, then perhaps she wouldn't be so vulnerable and wouldn't be left out as much. Best wishes!

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A.C.

answers from Wilmington on

Oh, what a tough situation to be in ... children can be so cruel.
1) Try talking to the sisters' mom. If singlet girl is spoiled or domineering, then sisters' mom might not be all that enthralled to have her around her youngest, either. Your daughter and her youngest could be signed up for a dance class together, or something like that.
2) Encourage the girls to play at your place. Is your husband able to bake cookies? Can the girls bake cookies with your husband overseeing the activity?
3) Get your daughter out to other afterschool activities to meet other little girls her age - to whatever extent you, with your work schedule, and your husband, with his disabilities, are able to coordinate and afford. Hire someone to do the driving if your husband is not able to.
4) Find out from the teacher who else in their class might be good friendship matches for your daughter. Call the other moms to coordinate get-togethers as much as possible.
I'll never forget taking my then 5 y/o daughter to the birthday party of one of her best friend's. The birthday girl had many "best friends". While playing Farmer in the Dell my daughter wasn't even picked to be The Cheese! She was crushed.
Good luck.

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J.F.

answers from Charlotte on

My heart breaks for you. I wish I had some answers. Have you looked into the big Brother, Big sister programs. That might be good for her to have a mentor other than momma. You are the best one for her but sometimes it helpd to have other teachers who care.
Other idea I don't know if you are involved in church. that would be a safe place for her to develope new friendships. The children might not go to the same school and she could develope her own identity away from these children who see her everyday. I would try to invite the little girl over again. From there if tiem allows take them away from the neighborhood to the park. This would keep the other problem casuing children away from this developing friendship.
The Lord answers prayers. Pray that he would send some friends your little girl's way. He is faithful in all he does. We might not understand at the time. I too have lost children. I understand completely. I hoped I have helped even just a little. Blessings to you and your family.

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A.T.

answers from Wilmington on

I agree with Anna C. Get her into some other activities with other children. My son is now 17 but I was cautious as to who he played with. If I wasn't happy with the way things went during playtime, I didn't allow him to play with him. Also have them play at your house, maybe inside so you can watch the interactions. I am blessed that he seems to have grown up quite well! My child had a learning disability when he was younger and had a hard time with friendships and getting picked on. It is heart breaking, however, make sure your daughter has a good self-esteem by building her up yourself. Tell her what a special girl she is and tell her what her strengths are. I did that with my son. He was a very emotional, empathetic child. He always understood what the underdog felt because he was one. Just make sure you spend time talking with her about what happened and how she can see beyond it. Teach her wisdom by giving examples or explaining how it would feel if she were the other girls in different situations. Even if you have the opportunity to interject something to the other girls when they are around you and a situation comes up, that would help them see the error of their ways. I used to say to my son, "how would you feel it that happened to you?" It gives them something to think about. I don't know how disabled your husband is, but maybe he could be a part of this in some way to help.

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T.E.

answers from Nashville on

Hi E.,

One thing you could do is to set up some basic rules for your house. One could be that you have to treat others the way you want to be treated. Welcome them into your home, explain the rule, and then let them play and remind them of the rule when they get a little off course. In the long run this may help the other children to learn better social skills. When they are in school and home they may see this behavior and think that's its okay.

However, I agree that in the end, your daughter has to get her self esteem from how she feels about herself not how others feel about her. Perhaps you or your husband could go through a book about self-esteem with her and discuss it. This situation can be used as an opportunity for her to learn about herself and her relationships with others.

As a mother I understand what you feel. I know how heartbreaking and scary it is. One thing I have done is to change my way of thinking regarding my children. I know now that they can handle dealing their peers and their spirit will not be crushed. I just have to give them the tools that they need to understand their value and worth. So I don't have to fear for them. I am hoping that my confidence will show through instead of the fear that I had.

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L.M.

answers from Lexington on

I like the idea of getting her into a group, maybe Girl Scouts, Brownies. Some are just starting/recruiting at this time. You should be able to call the local Girl Scout office where they can help get you in a troop.

If she continues to wallow or to ask the why questions, explain it as best you can. This 9 year old obviously has to compete for attention. If you say anything at all to the mother, I would keep it constructive and not ask her to act on it, rather ask her for help on how you can explain the situation to your daughter. Maybe something like, I'm not sure I understand so I struggle on knowing how to explain it to her. Maybe the other mother will shed some light on her daughters actions that may make it easier.

Good luck and God bless.

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E.M.

answers from Raleigh on

Good Morning,

I have a child in the same boat she has to be pulled form her class to have a lot of help with normal school work. We have had this issue also and I know it breaks your heart I know that you want to be mad at these little girls, but the worst thing you can do is show that to your daughter boost her self esteem make sure she know that she is very neat and awesome and if these little girls don't see it its there loss, Do not allow her to cry on the couch for long periods of time give her a moment and then drill into her head how great and wonderful she is and that if these little girls don't want to be apart of that that is SO SAD FOR THEM. Then do something fun with her to take her mind off of it. Also have you thought about getting her in to a group setting my little one is now in the 5th grade and she plays soccer and softball with girls from many differnet schools, still has a hard time making friends but finds at least 1 or 2 on each team to relate to. We need to teach our kids to love themselves knowone is the same for a reason.

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D.

answers from Charlotte on

I am so sorry E.. It must be very hard to watch your daughter go through this....The only suggestion I could lend it to make sure she has one on one playdates only. Seems like when there are more than two, someone always gets left out. Plus you can monitor the behavior alittle better and limit her playdates to the friends that truely are friends. To the mothers, I would just explain that it is easier for your daughter to play with one rather than a group. Hopefully they will understand. I hope this helps...

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K.S.

answers from Raleigh on

My heart aches for both of you. Kids can be mean! Little girls form clicks very young. I would try to get her into a couple of after school activities, so when she comes home she is tired, and she doesn't miss going out. You could plan an activity for her every day also, like cooking or baking, or taking her to a park. I would try to shun these girls, and avoid their nasty little beings. I did a lot with my daughter at that age because she was adhd, an she was avoided too. So, I know your heartache. God Bless. You have to make her strong.

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V.C.

answers from Wheeling on

Didn't take time to read the other responses, but wanted to suggest that you have other girls at your own house/apartment (not just playing together in 'common' areas) as much as possible. EVERY child needs to be made to feel included, and YOU can be a strategic part of this by making the OTHERS feel included and involved with YOUR family. Make cookies together (no-bakes are easy and TASTY!), take old Christmas cards and make recipe cards or cards for soldiers (the VA or VFW in your area probably supports something like this), make holiday ornamaments/decorations, or just do anything from your childhood that you remember doing with your mom, grandmother, or neighbor --'TOGETHER' things; simple things that are almost 'by-gone' in these hectic times. I think that would help everyone!

There are probably also some materials, advice. or tapes that Focus on the Family could give you about this situation. Their number is 1-800-A-FAMILY' ###-###-####).

God bless!

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R.P.

answers from Raleigh on

Hi E.,

I have a 6 yo and I know how hard it can be to watch the social interactions - especially when things are not going well. Girls can be very cruel. Have you read "Reviving Ophelia" - it's about older girls but it does give some insight on how girls think and make alliances.

I think you can be very straight with your daughter about what's going on. It sounds like the little girl who is alienating her has some challenges and she uses relationships to manipulate in order to fill empty holes.

I think you should feel free to invite your daughter's best friend over and if the other little girl wants to come over, I would tell her maybe in a little while. You don't have to have everyone over at the same time.

If I saw that one child was not being inclusive I wouldn't have a problem as the parent intervening and saying, "It's important to include everyone in the games otherwise we hurt each other's feelings. It's called being compassionate." I think children need to be called to their virtues within them. The little girl who is being unkind is capable of being cooperative, caring, just, kind, and respectful - but she needs the adults in her life to call her to those qualities. Otherwise, we end up raising children whose virtues lie dormant and become selfish, callous, petty, and cold-hearted.

You can teach all of the girls about these virtues so that you aren't singling any one out.

If you need further help or would be interested in attending my on-line "Awakening the Virtues from Within" discipline and parenting course, let me know.

R.
www.noblemother.com

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S.U.

answers from Raleigh on

Hi E., I only have a quick minute, but wanted to say we all know how you feel, it breaks our heart when our child's feelings are hurt. I would make sure that she has one on one playdates for awhile. ANY time you get three involved, there is a tendency for two to possibly section off, hurting the third child's feelings. There needs to be two, or four, but three is setting it up for disappointment. I'm not so sure I wouldn't steer away from this group for awhile, also, unless you have one on one interaction. You can always ask new friends or friends who haven't been over yet, and I'm sure you'll see a big smile on her face. It's a hard lesson for almost all kids, but I've diverted attention from the negative many times and it works :o)

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K.M.

answers from Jacksonville on

you didn't say what your daughter learning disabilites are from so I'll tell you about some of the delays that my daughter has had and how we try to deal with them.

My oldest was a mild premmie. She walked, talked everything on time. However socially she has had a diffacult time catching up to her peers. She is very sweet, loving and kind. However she has not always carried a conversation back and forth very well. Some times she is very loud when there is no reason to be and she is still learning about personal space (she's 12).

"Friends" often treated her how your daughters "friends" are treating her. I enrolled her in different after school activites like girl Scouts and Church activites. Although she still had a little bit of a rough time she found other kids, also a little socially behind, to play with. When she has a hard time in conversations we stop her to ask the who, what, when, why and where. It helps her to understand that we aren't in her head and can't see what she's thinking. It has taken about 3-4 years for her to really get a grasp on the personal space.

We began to see marked improvement when we started to have sleep overs (I know that was the issue this time), however we began to invite 4-6 girls over. Someone always shows up! No hurt feeling when 1 or 2 can't make it, because they're distracted by the ones who do. Yes, sometimes everyone shows up... They had an even better time. I recommed planning a few activites that you daughter can handle. We did a Scavenger hunt on the base, and a few games on the table, what ever works for you. We have found that we always are the ones who initiate these kinds of activites and not the other way around, but frankly if my daughter is happy then I don't expect other parents to be as motivated as I am to do the same.

I hope this helps in some way. I really do feel your pain and your daughters' hurt feelings.

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N.K.

answers from Nashville on

E.,
I am a mother of four so I have some experience with this. It is so painful watching your own children in these situations but you really do need to let them work it out. You could give your daughter advice on how to handle these situations but these are all learning experiences for her.
Unfortnately, people are not alweys nice and she needs to learn to be reslient to that! You will never be able to fix all her situations(remember she's at school everyday where these situations come up all the time!) but if you give her encouragement and positive self esteem she will not be hurt(as much) by them!
How about inviting some friends over from school on the weekends? Or just go to the park to get away from the mean little girl.
Good luck!!

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