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education.com asks:
Q:

What to do when your child is being excluded by a cousin who lives next door?

"I have a situation with my daughter. The child who is doing the excluding is her own cousin. We live right next door to her. Often times if my daughter doesn't want to do something that she wants to do, she'll take other friend, who they're usually playing with also, and say come on and lets go and leave my daughter alone. My daughter tries to stay strong, but it is really wearing on me since my niece has a very strong and manipulative personality and the other girls seem to flock to her, leaving my daughter out. My sister in law and I are very close and I don't want to jeopardize that by saying something to her, but I'm getting at my wits end. I'm not sure what to say to my sister in law even if I do say something. The trouble is, these things never happen in front of her because she always tries to act sweet and innocent around her mother, even though I'm the one who hears about the other side from my daughter. What should I do?"

Asked by Kim after reading the article, "What to Do About the Mean Girls":
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/what-...
In Topics: Bullying and teasing, Friendships and peer relationships, Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Hand in Hand
Dec 16, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Hi Kim,

Our Founder, Patty Wipfler, was writing about a similar situation recently and here's what she suggested that mother try with her daughter after the other girls were gone and they were alone together.

"So the thing to do is to connect in some way. If she says "The girls were mean," don't ask for an explanation. Just gather up an energetic tone and say something like, "Hrmmph! They must have been having a bad day (some explanation that when others aren't caring, it's upsets that they carry that are at work, not something personal about the people around them). What did you feel like saying?" and see if she can verbally stand up for herself in any way (impolite and crude is just fine here--it won't hurt anyone's feelings!). If nothing, then offer her a pillow or a wadded up piece of paper, and invite her to "get them back" in any way at all. What you're looking for is some way to give her a sense of power, a playful way to use all that bottled up energy underneath the helpless feelings. You can tackle her and hang on to her and say, "OK, this is all their mean remarks! Scrape it off! Come on!" and see if you can get her to use you as the stand-in for the "mean girls," and do a good wrestle, which, of course, she needs to win.

Laughter is what you're looking for. Wrestling and tussling. You may have to model silly but terrible faces one could make, or silly but terrible things to say, like, "Oh Yeah? Well, you're a stinking cabbage!"  But do it lightheartedly, not with an edge, or it won't work at all.

You're not training her to go out into the world to do these things. You're just trying to break the spell of feeling helpless and hopeless about what happened with some action, some laughter, or maybe some tears. Asking for explanations or offering philosophical truths appeals to the part of the mind that is not working at these moments, so drop those, and get in and help her to DO something fun and physical."

I hope that helps, but if your daughter is sad and wants to cry about the situation, that's another wonderful way to let out the stress and disappointment of being left behind. Just give her your warm attention while she sheds those feelings and no advice or commentary that might distract her while she gets it all out.

You might also want to start doing Special Time with her to strengthen your connection with her as well as her confidence and self-assurance. The link below talks about how to do that with an older child or teen, since I'm not sure how old your daughter is.

We'll be thinking about you both,

Juli Idleman
Hand in Hand Program Director
www.handinhandparenting.org
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Additional Answers (5)

dgraab
dgraab , Parent writes:
Hi Kim,

I'm sorry to hear that you're having this issue with members of your family. You didn't say what age your daughter and her cousin were, but it sounds like they may be younger than pre-teen, and possibly younger than age 10?

Here are some resources on Education.com you may find helpful to the situation...

Bullying and Teasing special edition:
http://www.education.com/topic/school-bullying-teasing/

Friendship Across the Ages info center:
http://www.education.com/topic/friendships-across-time/

When a Child Feels Left Out or Lonely
http://www.education.com/magazine/article/Ref_Left_Out/

It may be possible to have a conversation with your sister-in-law without damaging the relationship. Consider focusing on what you and she can do to help the children play together better (vs. blaming the issue entirely on her child, using labeling such as "manipulative," or accusing her child of "acting sweet and innocent".). Consider telling your sister-in-law that your child is feeling left out from some of the games her daughter is playing. Consider having play dates with only your child and her cousin at your house, so that your daughter doesn't feel excluded by her cousin giving attention to other children.

You might also focus on what you can do to help your daughter cope when she feels excluded. Perhaps help her understand that she won't always get to play with friends she wants at the times she wants, and that she will need to find alternative play options when that happens (such as playing with a different friend, or playing by herself or with you). Acknowledge the sadness or disappointment that may come from that outcome, without encouraging victimization (help her understand that while she may not have caused or liked how others treated her, she is empowered to make positive, healthy choices about how she responds).  

I hope these resources and tips are helpful to you.
> 60 days ago

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popprincess
popprincess writes:
I know it would be hard to talk about this to your sister in law.  Even though your daughter doesn't want to do the other things her cousin wants to do, tell her maybe just once she could do one thing.  If nothing good comes of it, call over your sister in law and talk.
> 60 days ago

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asdfasdf
asdfasdf writes:
well put them together alone with out anyone else but let them talk play u know let them relax to you talk and once she get oh she is nice and a good friend she wont leave here alone and invite with other gals
> 60 days ago

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New'New
New'New , Student writes:
You could invite some of your daughter's friends from school and have them with a little play date every week end. Or take her on a little mini field trip these kind of things always happen with kids that are seeing way to much of each other. So have them spend so time apart once they get back together they would have so much to talk about and the cousin would want to be aroud her more.
> 60 days ago

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nickel
nickel writes:
Hello,
Many kids and parents have this issue so you are not alone.

 That certainly did not make me feel any better so here is what I have done with a very similar situation.(my best friend's daughters)

 Find a friend(s) that supports your daughter, invite them over or discover a new friendship. Get your daughter into a new hobby without the cousin and hope she will develop a friendship there. The new friendship will need time to develop so I would not invite the cousin over at the same time! She will see her cousin otherwise but at least she will have other times where she is happy and having fun w/out any of the cousin's influence or ridicule.
Hope this helps, I am in the same process now so if anyone out there has any other ideas please write.
> 60 days ago

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