My daughter plays well with many children, but she is mostly attached to a girl who bosses and bullies our daughter and others. What can I do?
I had arranged a play-date for my daughter, Kate, to play with one of her good friend Dana this afternoon after school. When I reminded her about this arrangement last night, I was surprised to see that Kate didn't want this play date. She told me that she wanted to play with her friend Laura. She further told me that Laura asked her not to play with Dana and she does not want to upset Laura. If she could not play with Laura this afternoon, she would rather play alone. This is only a little episode out of so many between Kate and Laura and other friends. Kate plays very well with many other children. But Kate always jumps at the opportunity to play with Laura, even though their play-date usually accompanied with lots of trouble, mainly because Laura wants to make all decisions and demands that Kate does whatever Laura decided. Kate plays very well with other children but when time comes to be forced to choose side, Kate always picked Laura. In fact, Kate voluntarily picks Laura as her closest friend. Now I intentionally avoid having Kate to interact with Laura after school. I feel I need to work on teaching Kate how to pick a good friend and avoid being bullied. It takes time. However, after reading the article about bullying in Kindergarten, I feel a sense of urgency now, because I don't want Kate to become a bully's assistance in school. What can I do? Thank you all for your advices!
I applaud your efforts to help your daughter build more positive friendships. This can be a very difficult thing to do and you're right, it takes time. Indirect forms of aggression such as social or relational aggresion start as early as preschool. It sounds like your daughter's friend is engaging in socially/relationally aggressive strategies (many use these terms interchangeably). Social aggression typically targets individuals within the same friendship group. Like the example you provided of your daughter being told not to play with another girl, social aggression is directed at damaging another individual's social status. Name calling, social exclusion, hurtful facial expressions are all examples of social aggression. Those who are good at social aggression (which it sounds like your daughter's friend is) are skilled at balancing both getting ahead in their peer group (becoming popular) and getting along.
It may surprise you that your daughter chooses someone like this as a friend; however, research tells us that socially aggressive children are often popular. However, they are not usually well-liked. Your daughter may express that she is her "closest friend" because girls (and boys) want to affiliate with people of high social status. This is normal, but you should continue to encourage your daughter to engage with positive peers. Talk with her about what the characteristics of a good friend are (e.g., How do good friends treat you? How do they treat others? How do they make you feel?). By encouraging your daughter to engage with positive peers, she will increase her experience with positive social interactions and increase her self-confidence in future social situations. We know from research that victims of bullying can experience changes in their self-confidence.
It seems like you are moving in the right direction, by encouraging your daughter to play with other children. If your daughter becomes isolated from her other friends, that could create more of a power imbalance between your daughter and her friend. By definition, bullying involves an imbalance of power - whether it be that one individual is stronger, bigger, more socially skilled, aggressive, or has more friends. Promoting positive social opportunities is definitely a step in the right direction.
Young children often rate social aggression as more acceptable than other forms of aggression (such as physical aggression). It is important that you discuss that social aggression is wrong and hurtful with your daughter, if you haven't already. She might be surrounded by peers who also view this behavior as acceptable. Young children often tolerate social aggression and rarely report being victimized to adults. Encourage your daughter to tell you or another trusted adult when she is the target of social aggression. If your daughter knows that adults view social aggression as wrong, she will be less likely to view it as acceptable. When your daughter witnesses social aggression by her friend, help her enact strategies to discourage that behavior. Work with your daughter's strength in playing well with others to interrupt the social aggression or reframe the negative way her friend is talking about others (e.g., "I like it when we all play together."). The more she understands how hurtful social aggression is and what the qualities of a good friend are, the easier this will become.
There is no "right way" to solve this situation, but there are strategies you can try. It sounds like you are on the right track in helping your daughter!
School Psychology Doctoral Candidate
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Target Bullying Research Lab: www.targetbully.com
I had a similar problem with my daughter when she was in kindergarten.
There was a girl, "Tammy", that was very nice to our daughter from the first day of school, and who sat at my daughter's table. But there was another girl, "Nancy", who my daughter really wanted to impress and be friends with. Unfortunately Nancy was a bit bossy, and told my daughter that she couldn't be friends with Tammy, that if my daughter was friends with Tammy, Nancy wouldn't be friends with my daughter. I had many discussions with my daughter about this, and nearly every time my daughter would end up in tears, terrified of losing Nancy's friendship, but also aware that it was wrong to shun Tammy.
When I realized that I wasn't making enough progress in addressing this issue with my daughter at home, I approached the teacher about it. He said that it's normal for girls in kindergarten to form cliques, but that he would keep an eye on Nancy and my daughter's behavior, and make sure they weren't being mean or bullying Tammy.
I also had a friendly talk with Tammy's and Nancy's moms, and shared my concerns. I told Tammy's mom that I was sorry if my daughter had been hurting Tammy's feelings (which turned out to be true -- Tammy had been going home from school crying every afternoon), and I told her mom that I was working with my daughter, the teacher and Nancy's mom to end to the problem. I also told Nancy's mom about the situation, but, unfortunately, a language barrier made that conversation more difficult and it was hard to tell if she really understood the problem.
Thankfully, though, all the talking with the girls, the teacher and the parents helped, and now my daughter, Tammy and Nancy all play very well together. The next year (for first grade), all three girls were put in separate classrooms, and I spoke to my daughter's first grade teacher about the situation (asking her to be especially observant of the girls' interactions at recess in case the issue returned). So far it hasn't.
I hope your situation has a similar happy ending, and that you find the resources in Education.com's Bullying Special Edition to be helpful to you and your daughter.
well you tell her if she could tell the othere girl to be nice and tell her having othere friends are good to i had this promblem before to tell her that she could have so many othere friends and if she could ask the othere girl to be nice to her bye
u need 2 take care of ur daughter and behave friendly with her so that she become omfortable with u and discuss all the matter 2 u and u can solve out her problem. but take care it should be in a decent manner and wisely.
It sounds like your daughter has become involved in "Alliance Building," which is a common girl bullying tactic, which is very different from what typically comes to mind when we think of bullying because it doesn't take the overt, physical form of male bullying. I strongly recommend "Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls" by Rachel Simmons. This book explores the many methods girls use in bullying and various ways the experiences have affected them as mothers, daughters, and friends.