Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Child Alienating Friends



My daughter will soon be 8. We have a great relationship and are very close. She is having difficulty at school. Sometimes with her friends she is like a different person to how she is at home, she becomes very bossy and sometimes possessive of her best friends. Unfortunately it is making some of the other girls dislike her and leave her out, not inviting her to parties etc. I don’t know how to deal with the situation and how to stand back in a positive light rather than feeling like I want to tell these kids off for being so mean. It’s a difficult situation as really she is being over enthusiastic and I feel misinterpreted. I don’t have any problems at home and the flip side is that my laid back 6-year-old girl is Miss popular in her class. Help how can I help her to be liked?


Hi Vanessa, One of the most difficult things for mothers to do is just step back and allow children to learn from their experiences. But it is usually the most effective. You might find the following excerpt from Positive Discipline A-Z helpful.

Friends (Choosing)

“I have one child who complains that she doesn’t have any friends. Another child keeps choosing friends I don’t like. How do I help my children make friends with children I approve of?”
Understanding Your Child, Yourself, and the Situation

We often forget to honor the different styles and personalities of our children and try to make them all fit one mold. This tendency can be most blatant when it comes to the secret dream of most parents--to have popular children. Some children are quiet and passive, some are active and assertive, some choose conventional lifestyles, and some choose unique lifestyles. The following suggestions focus on meeting the true needs of the situation--to help your children honor the uniqueness of each individual and feel comfortable with who they are.


Allow your children to choose their own friends, but help your kids have contact with others their age by signing them up for after school activities and driving them to sleep-overs and play dates. When your kids are young, arrange play dates for them at your house, too.
If your child chooses a friend you don’t like, invite that person into your home often and hope that the love and values you practice will be beneficial to him or her.
If you are afraid a friend you don't approve of will have a negative influence on your child, focus on being a positive influence through a good relationship with your child. It is okay to express your concerns as long as you are sharing ideas and not giving orders.
When your child has a fight with a friend, listen empathetically, but do not interfere. Have faith in your child to handle the fight. (See Fighting, Friends.)

Don’t worry about whether your child has the right number of friends. Some prefer just one best friend; some like to be part of a large group of friends.

If your child complains that he or she has no friends, practice your listening skills. Try rephrasing your child’s complaint using feeling words, such as, “You’re pretty upset right now because you don’t think you have any friends. Did something happen today between you and your friends at school?” Often children will catastrophize and speak in absolutes, when what they are really trying to say is that they are having a problem with one of their friends. Be a good listener to help your child think through the situation out loud.

Planning Ahead to Prevent Future Problems

Help children who have difficulty making friends by exposing them to many opportunities, such as trips to the park, Scouts or other youth groups, and church groups.
Do not expect your children to enjoy the children of your friends or insist that they play together if your kids don’t enjoy their company. Find time to spend with your friends without subjecting your children to feeling stuck having to play with kids they don’t like or with whom they don’t have anything in common.

Go along with your child’s wishes about clothing styles so he/she won’t be embarrassed about not fitting in.

Make your home a place where kids love to come because they experience unconditional love, safe and respectful rules, and plenty of fun, child-oriented activities.

If you have issues about having enough friends yourself, don’t worry about your child having the same problem or project your experience onto your child. Be careful not to put your judgments about friendships on to your children. You may think friends are forever while your child may enjoy moving in and out of different groups of friends. Be a good observer and see how your child handles friendships.

Children don’t like to bring friends home when one or more of their parents is chemically dependent, because they are embarrassed and fear what they might walk into with their friend. If someone in your family suffers from chemical dependence, get help, because your children will be missing out on a lot if they are afraid to bring friends home.

Life Skills Children Can Learn

Children can learn that their parents are their best friends because they love them unconditionally, value their uniqueness, and have faith in them to choose friends that are right for them. Their friends can feel safe around their parents because they offer guidance without lectures and judgments.

Parenting Pointers

If your child is consistently choosing friends of whom you do not approve, look at your relationship with your child. Are you being too controlling and inviting her to prove you can’t control everything? Is your child feeling hurt by your criticism and lack of faith in her and trying to hurt back by choosing friends you don’t like?

Have faith in your children and honor who they are. Try to make the people your children choose as friends welcome at your home, even if they are not the friends you would choose.
Your children may be making decisions about friends based on how you treat your friends. Are you acting how you would like your children to act?

Booster Thoughts

Peers don’t make children what they are. Children choose their peer group as a reflection of where they are at the time. Drop a skater into a high school, and he’ll find the other skaters by noontime. The same is true for cheerleaders, jocks, and brains. (And even as adults, when we go to a party, we tend to seek out people who have similar interests and avoid those who don’t.)

Sometimes teens think their lives are over if they don’t have a friend. Often we overemphasize the importance of having friends, so that children who choose to be alone feel uncomfortable with that choice, because they “should have friends,” rather than learning to be a friend to themselves.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We switched my 7-year old daughter to a new school at first grade and she has become friends with a 2nd grader in her class (she is in a multi-grade classroom). She is very attached to the 2nd grade girl and at times this is reciprocated. Sometimes the 2nd grade girl threatens to not be my daughter's friend anymore because of some disagreement they may have had. My daughter is also very worried about making her friend mad and sometimes prefaces her conversation with her friend with "Please don't get mad when I tell you this...but I'm feeling left out". And then her friend gets mad. This is so very painful for me to listen to since I want my daughter to find friends who are good to her and not be friends with kids who are fickle with their loyalties. I erred big time by letting my daughter know that I think she should try to make other friends so that this other girl is not her only friend. I know that my duaghter needs to learn how to navigate these waters on her own. I also know that I need to show her through my own actions and love what real friendships should be. I seek input on this though since I know this is just the tip of the iceberg. Many thanks.