Photo by: Tom Burndred

Is My Child an Outcast?

by "An Anonymous Mom"
Photo by: Tom Burndred

This has been a tough fourth grade year for my Emma. She was so excited at the beginning of the year to be in class with her BFF. They had never been in class together before and had always wanted to. Their wish came true.

I, on the other hand, was apprehensive. This “BFF” that she has been friends with since she was two years old has always treated Emma poorly. She is more aggressive and bossy toward her, tends to not be fully truthful when faced with something she’s done to be hurtful and is hot and cold on whether she’s “in the mood” to include Emma in her games. To me, this is not what a best friend is all about.

The beginning of the year started out ok, but then slowly things started to change. A few mean statements, a few moments of exclusion… then Emma’s BFF was transported to the top of the cool girl hierarchy and Emma was painfully alone at the bottom. Now all the kids treat her that way.

The dynamics of the class are tough. There are only 8 girls and as I mentioned in a previous post, they are ALL very good at sports. They all love fashion and music. They make fun of anything they consider “babyish” like High School Musical or Hannah Montana. They watch what you wear and how often. They watch what you eat and make sure that if it’s something different or weird that the whole table knows about it. They fight among themselves frequently and treat one another poorly.

Emma doesn’t fit in with that group at all. Her BFF has done everything possible this year TO fit in, even if it means stepping on Emma in the process. Now the group of girls has formulated some sort of pact to not let Emma join them in any activity. First it was gym class. There is an even number of girls so when they have to partner up she always ends up with someone, but if they have to go in groups of three – that’s when no one will let her in. Then it was in class when they had to form groups to read a play aloud. No one would let her join their group and actually had to be forced by the teacher to let her in. Then yesterday it was in music. They were playing a game and the music teacher announced groups of four. So Emma went to the group of girls with three that included her BFF and was told she couldn’t join them by the “leader” of all the mean girls. Emma ended up in tears and the teacher did nothing to correct the mean girl behavior, instead she put Emma in an already formed group of four. She said to Emma at the end of class she was sorry, she knew how girls could be to each other.

It’s hard to believe in third grade Emma was given the award by their teacher as “Most Confidence.” Third grade had different girl drama. That year she had a friend in class with her that was very possessive and over-bearing. She wouldn’t let Emma play with other kids without a fight. She did everything possible to stand next to her in line and sit next to her at lunch. She also did things to tease her relentlessly, like hide her pencils, move her chair to the other side of the room, take her apple from her lunchbox and play catch with it… in other words it drove Emma crazy and we were so glad to be out of that dynamic.

But I think I would prefer possessiveness to exclusion any day. At least with possessiveness the problem is that you are liked “too much” instead of not liked at all.

Emma has no problem making friends. In fact she has a ton of girlfriends and has sleepovers and playdates every weekend. I keep reminding her that she has friends who treat her right, who care about her and who will always be there for her. It’s just that these friends are not in her class this year.

What can I do to help her through this? I sent a note to the teacher yesterday and informed her of all the recent episodes. I asked if she has noticed anything and also if she sees any reason that Emma is treated this way. I told her that we are just going to try our best to make it through the next two weeks without anymore tears and that next year she really needs to be in a class with a better dynamic. I named the worst perpetrators so that the teacher could make sure that she was not in class with them again. At this point I don’t care who her teacher is. All I care about is who is hopefully NOT in class with her. This includes the BFF who has not stuck up for her or tried in anyway shape or form to include her. In fact it was her who initially wouldn’t let her join in gym class back in December. Maybe I’m being harsh, but I really feel she is at the root of the problem. She established her dominance over her by letting the other kids see that even the BFF could exclude her and treat her poorly. The rest of the class is following her example.

Then when no one’s watching the BFF invites Emma for a sleepover.

Two weeks of school left…

An Anonymous Mom maintains a candid, uncensored, on-line journal of a typical middle class mom. She has two daughters, a part time professional job, a hard working husband and she volunteers a ton. According to her, “We are over-scheduled and under-financed… Like I said…typical!”

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ok comming from me..i know what ur daughter is going threw and i know how mean girls can be..the teacher has no right not to correct the other girls and evidently the other girls parents are stuck up lil (cough) as well...the only way to make things better for emma is she needs to stick up for her self..i know it doesnt sound right or logical..but its true fist fights or anything like that...she needs to use her as vocal as they are..roll her eyes back at them make them feel as small as they make her..but she needs to know..that it's not ok to do it to someone who didnt do anything to her....have her give them the attitude right back...eventually the girls wont like it and they will slow there roll when it comes to picking on your poor daughter...:)

Wow! My daughter just finished her 4th grade year with a similar situation. She would rather spend all of her free time with one person, her "BF" and I disapprove. I have tried to focus my attention on showing her what true friendship is all about. I am looking for appropriate movies and books to share with her in hopes of opening up a dialog with her. I am sure this is just the beginning of molding her into a great person of character!

Just a thought-- I live in Illinois and parents are allowed to request their child's next year teacher. Of course that doesn't mean that it will happen. It usually does, though. If you didn't want your daughter in a class again with her "best friend". I would speak to the principal and explain the situation. I don't see why he wouldn't be happy to help. Good luck!!! Be sure to let us know how it goes.
Tell your daughter to stay strong and hang in there.

Bev Huelsman

My son went through the same thing this year as well, he has just completed grade 7. His so called BFF turned on him and follows along with the rest of the kids. When no one else is around, he will be friends again with my son. It is painful to watch this happen. My son has not connected with any other children and spends most of his time alone. Although he claims to be happy, I am concerned...

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Make your child stand for herself coz no one will stand for her and not to depend on others. Make her feel that she is important and can do best. My daughter is in year 7. She told me once that someone tried to bully her but she answer back and stand for herself. So I said to my daughter "well done" never happen again. I always said to my daughter "don't just stand in the corner and cry" talk back. You may need to talk to the principal.

I really feel sorry for Emma. I would sit and talk with her and let her know that their are some mean children in schools' Its unfortunate that the teacher didn't see this and/or chose not to. I feel, "my own opinion" that schools' aren't like they used to be. If you have a BFF in school then this person should be there for her, its quite obvious that she doesn't want to be looked down on, at children at such a young age...

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I agree with Marly. Sit down and talk to your daughter. I was an outcast at grammar school AND H.S.
It took me years for me to stand up to the mean girls.
Unfortuantely, those are years that I can't do over.

This happened to me in high school, and the best solution is to remove her from the situation. Kids in packs can be like mean dogs. Teachers often follow the pack as well because they want to be well liked and well rated.

I made best friends out of the boys. This turned the mean girl dynamic around very fast. I befriended the cool boy table and began sitting with them. In class in time they became my force field against the mean girl antics...

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I really hate this new mean girl popularity. I homeschool my children. My eldest doesn't understand the group dynamics of more than 3 children. It can be great or bad depending on their leaders.
I would ask that the other child be transferred, even with two weeks left. It would teach both girls some important lessons. Action now may change a destructive path. It is no fun being the mean girl either.
I was an outcast...

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I can relate. My daughter was a victim of BFF envy and was an outcast all through High School. Bullying comes in all forms and this is one of them. Make sure your daughter feels secure at home. Take her everywhere you go i.e; shopping, outings etc. Let her know her BFF is a follower and not a leader. Make sure she is aware of her own strength and boost that moral. Tell her how beautiful and smart she is everyday. Let her know friends like that she doesn't need...

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you need to sit down with your daughters teachers and ask them, how much do you like your job ?because a big part of their job is protecting the not so popular students from being are a taxpayer, they are state employees, therefore you pay their salary. so, they can either go to a little extra effort or you can write to the school superintendent and get their [email protected] choice. dont wait. this week, the kids will be using words to harm your child, next week, it could their fists...

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Hi...I'm a counselor in an elementary school. The behavior you describe is nothing short of bullying. Two things - the school should absolutely take steps to handle and you can insist on it - respectfully. Also, you sound like you want Emma (who sounds pretty well-adjusted anyway!) to have good coping skills with life's tough issues...

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Hi! weve had similiar experiences, striking kids with different personalities. My eldest felt hurt. my middle child was deep mature, balanced...and hurt.We have found that there can be a huge difference with school leadership. the school needs to do more than (or rather than) referee and usher class placements to react to this happening. I feel that to kids this is all about power and inclusion...and has nothing to do with friendship at all.Even my 8 year old can understand that now...

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A Bridge to Terabithia might be a good movie to watch with your daughter. It has a pretty sad ending, but the point of "what makes a bully become a bully" is well engrained into the movie. May make an easy conversation bridge into what is going on in her life.

Anon Mom - Sorry to hear about your troubles but you need to get to work and fast! Your child has learned to be dominated, maybe at home by people who yell or who treat each other with dominance (unwittingly) and she has learned it and has learned to take the less dominant role. This will happen again and again to her and you cannot always create the world around her that you want, that is also part of dominance, trying to control someone else's world...

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