Trouble with Friends

Updated on May 26, 2009
C.N. asks from Syracuse, UT
20 answers

My 7-year-old daughter is having some issues with one of her friends. Just last week this friend told her "I don't want to hurt your feelings but I don't want to be your friend anymore." I know that sometimes girls are this way. However, this is not the first time this has happened with this friend. Not the second, either. It has happened on multiple occasions. Within a few days they are playing again, but this friend seems to think it's okay to dump a friend over and over. My daughter is really feeling discouraged about this. She also says that whenever she tries to talk to this friend, she just stares at her and doesn't say anything.

We carpool with this friend, and live only 2 houses away. When they are in the car together they don't talk to each other or even look at each other. They have been friends for 3 years since they moved here. I am (sort of) friends with her mom, but not really close. In fact, her mom has invited me on outings with them, only to cancel and never reschedule. She acts friendly to me and everything, but doesn't answer the phone when I call, or return my messages. I am feeling really frustrated and don't know what to do. Should I call the mom and talk about it with her? Will it just make things worse? Or do I just let it go and let the friendship end? My daughter is not ready to end it, it is the other girl. She does have some other friends, but not a lot.

I can't think of any reason why they would be so rude to us. My daughter is a super sweet, beautiful, smart, kind girl. She is never mean to anyone. This is especially frustrating to me because I had almost no friends at all throughout elementary school. It was really hard for me, and I feel so bad that she has to go through the same thing.

Do any of you have any advice for me? Thanks.

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answers from Denver on

You said your daughter has a couple of other friends. I would really encourage these other friendships. Invite them over for play dates find out if these other girls are involved in any outside school activities and then talk to their moms about signing your daughter up for one--if she is interested. I would continue with the carpool, but don't force the friendship or contact the mother-heck she doesn't return your calls anyway! Talk to your daughters teacher about possible girls in the class that have the same interests as your daughter and set them on a an outing or play date. It sounds like your daughter might be shy? If so, you might have to take the initiative for her, at first. Trust me, I found my daughters' friend in Kindergarten, i sat back and watched the kids one day after school, and pointed out a girl and asked my daughter her name. She asked why and I told her "Well she was wearing a dress with horses on it, and she likes to swing--two of your favorites" Well sure enough the next day they were the best of friends. So I made a point to meet her mother at pick up one day, and it has made our year soo much better! But, the teacher will be a wealth of info as well. Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Hi C., First of all, they are 7, and why are you making this your problem? Let it go or you are going to be crazy for the next 18 years! And most importantly she needs to learn to solve her own problems!!



answers from Denver on

Hi C.! I am going through a similar situation with my 10 year old daughter right now except her mother and I are not friends and had a falling out way before my daughter and her daughter had. It is a tough situation. I would distance myself from the other family still friendly when you see them. I would also make a point to have your daughters other friends over to play. Nurture those other friendships. It is sooooooo hard to watch your daughter hurting but I am coming to realize girls can be mean and it doesn't get better through out school. Your daughter just like my daughter will hopefully see that these other little girls are not good friends and therefore are not worth investing their time with. I am so glad I am grown now and can pick and chose who I have in my circle of girlfriends and one day our daughters will do the same while have already learned their life long lessons from dealing with difficult kids when growing up!!!!!!! Hang in there!



answers from Denver on

Believe it or not, my 4 year old daugther has one friend who already does things like this. They sit next to each other during carpool, and every day she tells my daugther she is stupid. It hurts my daughter's feelings every time. When this girl starts being mean, I tell my daughter to tell her "that's not a nice thing to say" and then to turn her back on that girl and talk with her friend on the other side. They used to play together quite a bit and even though I like her mother very much, we choose not to plan play dates with this friend anymore. I basically lose a friend in the bargain, but subjecting my child to constant up and down isn't worth it.

Your daughter's teacher should be able to suggest some names of other children in class who she plays well with. You'd be surprised how many moms would be thrilled to receive a phone call to set up a play date... so many people are afraid to just pick up the phone and call a new person. Call several moms -- the worst that can happen is that not every call turns into a play date, but on the flip side, you and your daugther might just connect with some new friends, kind people who enjoy spending time with you.

I understand you might need to continue the carpool, but I would certainly explain to your daughter that this girl is not a good friend and that people who are disrepectful to you are never people you should choose to spend time with. And remember, your daughter learns even more from you by watching what you do. Stop making efforts to connect with this girl's mother -- respect yourself enough to cut that off and find new people to spend time with.

Good luck!



answers from Salt Lake City on

This is what I tell my daughter:

"Some people just haven't learned how to be a good friend yet. That doesn't make her a bad person - just like not knowing how to tie your shoes or ride your bike doesn't make you a bad person - it just means you haven't quite learned how to do it yet.

"It sounds like she hasn't learned how to be a good friend yet. It's OK if you don't want to be around her while she's figuring out how to do it. She'll get it eventually."



answers from Denver on

Help your daughter decide that she doesn't want to be friends with girl. Talk about what attributes make a good friend and the things that you should look for. Talk about how to be a good friend, being kind, and inclusive etc. When my kids desribe behavior, not conducive to being kind, I always say, "Wow, that doesn't seem very nice." And then talk about what could have caused that behavior. We talk about hurting people act hurtful and that sometimes when one is insecure they are unkind to others and try to exclude them, in order not to be the one excluded. Invite other kids to your house to play. Lots of different kids and a variety of activities. Never exclude this neighbor girl, but teach your daughter to reach out to others. When my kids where smaller and there was a noticible silence in the car, I would talk to the kids and ask what was going on, see if you can help them engage one another.

We have a beloved next door neighbor that frequently, as a younger child, said the same things to my daughter. The minute I heard, you are not my friend, or I don't like you I would send her home for the day and invite someone else over to play. She learned the behavior I expected in my home and my daughter learned to expect to be treated kindly and to treat others the same.

I would suggest the same for the mom. Be friendly, but don't try to be friends. You can be kind and not be close.

I said a little prayer for you and your daughter. These are such hard learning experiences.



answers from Denver on

My kindergarten-aged daughter is already running into some of this. Sometimes it's other girls and sometimes it's her saying unkind things. We work on this regularly. I talk to her about the possible consequences of her mean words and actions -- she might end up with no friends. I talk to her about when her friends are mean. We also talk about how she feels inside when she's saying the mean things -- usually hurt, afraid or angry. I ask her what she thinks her friends might be feeling inside when they're being mean. Then we talk about all the things she might say or do when someone is mean to her and things she might say or do when she's feeling upset inside.

Most importantly, I always tell her that it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks or says about us. It's only important how we feel about ourselves.



answers from Denver on

I feel your pain, and I know how hard it is to know the right thing to do.

Some key things I wanted to point out:

Often kids that age can't articulate their frustrations with other kids, so instead of being able to say "when you do this, I feel upset" they simply say "you're not my friend anymore". So it is possible that they may grow into the ability to talk about what is upsetting in their friendship.

Having said that, I would encourage your daughter's friendships with other, nicer kids right now. Because even if there is a valid reason that the other girl is upset with your daughter, you don't want to teach your daughter that it is o.k. to let people be mean to her. If someone is being mean, you don't want the message to be- stick around and take it while figuring out how to make that person happy. Instead you want the message to be- that person is having a hard time being nice right now for some reason, but it's not o.k. for them to treat me like this, so I need to work on friendships with people who treat me like I deserve to be treated.

Finally, I would mention that because it's so important to kids to have friends, it can be scary when a parent says "you should not be friends with that person anymore". That can make them feel isolated and vulnerable. My daughter had a friend problem in the first grade. So we talked about why her friend might be being mean (and kids can often come up with reasons and it's empowering to them). She said she is probably unhappy because her dad was just deployed overseas. I agreed that would make a kid unhappy and they could take it out on someone else. So we talked about how we felt sorry for her and we would say prayers for her, etc., but that it is not o.k. to be treated mean. So instead of telling her to not be friends with her, I said "maybe we should take a break from Ellie, and maybe see how she treats you in second grade. then you can decide if she is treating you well enough then". That really helped. That's exactly what she did. She didn't feel like she was ending things, just taking a break. It allowed her to develop other friendships.

Just realized how long I wrote- sorry! But I hope that helps. Good luck.



answers from Denver on

Hi C. - As a mom of a 7yr old, I understand your situation all too well. It sounds like this little girl is conflicted and has been trying to say what she wants. As parents we put a lot of pressure on our kids to get along with everyone and try to be friends no matter what. It doesnt always work. Your daughter is all of the wonderful things you say she is and just because the neighbor doesnt think the same wont change that.

Based on personal experience, I would back off. It might be inconvenient, but pull out of car pool and dont initiate for a while. I'm sure the mom of the other girl will understand if you explain that they need a break for a while. Work to help your daughter build friendships with other kids in the neighborhood and from her classroom by coordinating playdates and such. Since the other little girl lives on your street, encourage your daughter to be friendly but she doesnt have to be friends.



answers from Colorado Springs on

Hi C.,
My daughter is 3 1/2 and I am trembling to think what awaits! :) You got some great advice, especially from Kam, and I just wanted to add my two cents. You mentioned that you had friendship issues in elementary school, and those memories are, of course, painful. Just be careful, if I may respectfully caution you, of projecting your issues with this onto your daughter. This situation may not necessarily show that she is "doomed" to the same fate. Try to be calm in front of her when discussing the situation because you don't want her to register any panic you are feeling over this. And, like you said, she does have other friends. It's ok if she doesn't have a whole bunch. And ditch these people!! Even being alone is better than being with abusive individuals, an important lesson in self respect for your precious girl. Good luck!



answers from Salt Lake City on

Girls, they are so dramatic. I have a daughter that is 7 and also has a lot of friend anxiety. I think her friends aren't too nice to her but know some of it is her as well. I have thought about getting some advice on her anxiety about it all, it is over the top. Just wanted to say thanks for asking the question, I will read your responses and you are not alone on this.



answers from Boise on

I had the same problem with my now-13 year old. The best thing you can do for her is to allow your daughter to decide if the friendship is good for her. Ask her what qualities she thinks is important for being a good friend to someone else, then ask her what qualities she wants in a friend, and then finish it up by asking if this girl has enough of those qualities to make her want to continue being friends with this girl.

It's hard to watch our kids in the same situations that we failed at ourselves. It took me until junior high to finally figure out how to let go of toxic friendships because my mom didn't ask me these kinds of questions. Helping your daughter by empowering her will go a long, long way. And it probably wouldn't hurt to lead by example and just cut ties with this family and nurture the friendships that really matter to you.



answers from Salt Lake City on

It sounds as though this is revolving around one other family the majority of the time. And, are the other times your refer to in the same social circle? If so, I have but one question. You're still attempting to socialize with them why??? Find new friends. The only way you will ever get out of your comfort zone is to push yourself. You will have discomfort if you stay or leave...why not take the leap? Good Luck!



answers from Pocatello on

This other little girl doies not sounds like a good friend for your daughter to have. Invite other, more friendly friends over to play or go mini golfing or to the park or whatever, do all that you can to encourage friendships with other kids who act more kindly and respectfully. Have talks with your daughter about what it means to be a good friend and how to handle rude behavior from friends in a good way. For example if a "friend" is being mean then do not try to retaliate, but also do not reward the behavior by continuing to play with her every day! If you want to discontinue your carpool then that it up to you, but there is no rule that kids in the same carpool HAVE to be friends. As long as your daughter has other kids to play with and is happy with her social life it is OK to let this particular "friendship" fall by the wayside.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Dear C.,
Being the mother of a daughter that is much like the one you're having troubles with, I know just what to tell you. Her mom is just as upset about it as you are, probably. My daughter comes home in tears because she told so and so this and now they can't be friends anymore... oh and she's 7 too! She's an emotional hormonal girl already and we haven't even begun. I'm frustrated with her being this emotional and moody at such a young age, but I love her all the same. I do try to keep in contact with the mothers of the two other girls that she plays with so that there is some adult conversation going on about what happens in the background. If say, my daughter comes home distraught about something she said to Emily, I call Em's mom and see if any smoothing needs done at school the next day between my daughter and Em. Sometimes they need to talk and my daughter needs to apologize, but mostly things smooth out on their own.

I'm sorry that your daughter is going through this. I would highly suggest she try to find another friend that treats her like the beautiful person she is. I'd suggest that to Em too, but I know she's got other friends besides my daughter. As my daughter has had her feelings hurt from Em playing with them instead of her at some times too.





answers from Denver on

Please stop hanging out with those people. Their behavior is abusive. It has nothing to do with whether you and your daughter are likable or not.

We have a kid across the street like that. Plays with my kids one day, taunts them the next. I told my kids that it's abusive behavior and we're not going to put up with it. (If a child learns to put up with it, they're more likely to hook up with an abusive man later in life because they've come to think of that behavior as "normal".)



answers from Denver on

Empower your daughter with teaching her she has choices of being around someone that hurts her feeling continually or making better friends that make her feel good about herself.
I have this same issue, it is frustrating, my daughter is 7 too and girls even at this young age can be brutal.
However I decided the other day to tell my daughter, when someone is mean to her she has a choice to walk away, if she chooses to continue to be with the people that hurt her then it is kind of back on her. Make sense?

I told her it is far better to be honest and tell her friend how it is all making her feel when emotions are calm. She had a talk with her friend, from what I gather all things are good now and I am not hearing the drama or tears after school any longer. There was a third girl involved that I think stirred up a lot of the chaos that they removed from their circle of friends, that seemed to help tremendously.

I have the same issue with the mom that when we invite her daughter to do something she doesn't return my calls and went so far to tell her daughter she isn't fond of me, I don't even KNOW THIS WOMAN! I have talked to her maybe two times. My daughter of course asked if it hurt my feelings that her mom doesn't like me, I basically told her it cannot hurt me because I don't know her and she doesn't know me.

Your daughter will have mean girls in her classes, she will encounter friends that hurt with words and all you can do is remind her she has choices and how many amazing nice kids there are to be friends with instead.

I know you say your daughter is never mean, I am not doubting that but to be honest, I have witnessed first hand the sweetest kids getting pretty sassy with each other on the playground. I am not saying your daughter is a problem at all, I just think it is naive of us to completely think our children are innocent. My daughter can lash out when her feelings are hurt and is not perfect, she is just as much part of the problems too as she participates in the issues and doesn't walk away.

Don't assume she doesn't have friends or won't either. She just needs to learn to empower herself and be with kids that make her feel good about herself, even invite other girls from her class over to socialize outside of school.
Help her by just being her sounding board but do not get personally involved. There are many bumps to come I am learning. Giving them self esteem, courage, empowering them with life lessons and values is the best you can do.



answers from Casper on

right off-hand I'd say that she needs to lay off with this friend and it would be great if you could find her some new friends so she can essentially ignore but be nice to this someone. Sometimes girls just assert their superiority and they need to be invited to assert it somewhere else. Meanwhile your daughter has the opportunity to learn how not to be stepped on and that there are other people in the world who are more mature than that.



answers from Provo on

I have a daughter that is now 18 years old and we went through this type of thing all the way along. My best advice to you would be to give your daughter 100% of your support and forget about trying to deal with others. I am a big advocate of giving your child all kinds of self-esteem so she can deal with these kinds of petty things on her own. Just reinforce to her that a person is very lucky to have her as a friend and if the other girl does not want to be your daughter's friend then that is her problem. She can find lots of good friends. Maybe just one, but believe me, one GOOD friend is a lot better than five flaky ones. Open the lines of communication now. It is so much easier to deal with a teenage girl that has a lot of self confidence and is ready to deal with the world head on. My daughter has lots of attitude, but she channels it very well. She is graduating on friday with a 3.98 GPA and it is not because she is meek and mild and lets little petty arguments stand in her way. Empower her now with knowledge and a lot of temptations that face girls and they grow older will not be an issue for her. (like boys and sex) My daughter and I talk about that kind of stuff a lot and I can guarantee you that she is a virgin. I feel that she is exposed to the same issues as others are but has chosen to rise above them. My life would have been a lot easier if my mother had chosen to empower me with knowledge instead of playing into the childish things in life. I had to learn the hard way and I also feel that my daughter has learned a lot from my mistakes.



answers from Salt Lake City on

This other mom and her daughter have some issues (as we all do) and their particular issues are causing them to act this way. If there is just one message I would love for you to hear, it is that it has nothing to do with you or your daughter. This is who they are and how they have learned to associate with their world. That being said, they sound unpleasant and full of drama, so why put yourself through it? I would remain polite and courteous, but I would not go out of my way to foster a friendship with someone who acts that way. It would be a great lesson to your daughter that she is empowered to choose the people that she allows into her inner circle and she gets to choose good people that treat other people well. Find some pleasant kids & moms in the neighborhood, through school, church - whatever - and spend time nurturing relationships with people that bring joy - not drama. You will both be much happier. Good luck.

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