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School-aged Kids' Friends
My 6 year old daughter was close friends with another little
girl in preschool. For reasons too lengthy to go into here, the
friendship ended before the end of preschool. My daughter was
devastated and it took the first half of kindergarten for her to
move on. She's now in first grade and has made some good
Much to my surprise, the other little girl recently joined an
extracurricular activity that my daughter has been taking for
over a year. My daughter was thrilled to see her old friend but
the other little girl has moved on from the friendship and
seemingly has no interest in rekindling it. I don't know how to
protect my daughter from more pain. It took her so long to get
over the last time the little girl rejected her, I just can't
bare to see it happen all over again. I am dreading not so much
the fact that they will be doing an activity together but
watching my daughter yearn for a little girl who doesn't
reciprocate the feelings.
Should I just forbid their interaction and let my daughter think
that I am the reason they can't be friends again? Should I tell
her that the girl has moved on and doesn't want to be friends
again? Should I just make up excuses each week for why she can't
go over her house, or have her over our house or have some other
playdate? None of these seem like the right solution but neither
does letting them circle around each other feeling very
uncomfortable - my daughter trying for friendship and the little
girl not wanting it but not wanting to hurt my daughter's
feelings either. And just so everyone is clear, no abuse or
horrible event happened to end their friendship the first go
around - the other little girl just moved on and frankly never
valued the friendship as much as my daughter did. Hard lessons
for everyone at such a tender age. Any advise would be much
You are making me grateful that I have a son instead of a
daughter. I guess the thing to do is talk to her about it. Just
tell her that certain people want to be friends with her, and
others don't. It's nothing to do with her, it has to do with
what the other little girl wants. Tell her that she will have
this happen in life, but it's really okay, because she will
always have lots of friends that love her and want to play with
her. Tell her that this little girl wants to be left alone, but
there are lots of other little girls that would love to play with
her. I would emphasize all her positive qualities, and how good
it is that she has lots of good friends etc.
Your daughter does not need to be protected, she needs to learn
to deal with the reality that sometimes people we like don't
like us back. Yes, it hurts, but it can't be helped. Yes, it
happened to my daughter (when she was 5) and it was painful to
watch, but as the parent, you just have to give her a coping
This will sound harsh (and I'm sorry for that) but it isn't our
job as parents to protect our children from these difficult
lessons. It is painful - for you and for her. But if you try to
shield her from this lesson, she won't learn how to cope with it.
She needs your empathy, your support, and your love, but
probably not your protection with this one. It isn't an unsafe
situation (either physically, or emotionally). It's an excellent
opportunity for discussion about a real life lesson. She's going
to be stronger and better equipped to handle this when she gets
older. In the future, she may be a more empathetic friend to
someone who is going through similar pain. You're a good mother
for wanting to protect her, but you can be a good mother and let
her learn from this. And if you must do something, perhaps you
can recruit another friend to join this class with her.
I'm so sorry your daughter has to deal with this and you're in
the awful position of having to witness it. This happened with
my daughter at that age too and it is young, she is vulnerable,
it does hurt, and it does matter.
I think the truth must be acknowledged because it is just
there, that the other girl is not preferring to play with her,
but you can help her conceptualize it as a normal thing. Kids
and people of all ages flow around and attach to different
people over time... maybe there's a story that would be a good
metaphor that takes ''fault'' off her with the idea that this is
part of life. We don't always know reasons, there are invisible
similarities between people.
At the same time, she's still young enough for you to help
initiate other friendships and distractions, by suggesting
playdates and leading her to some fun activities unrelated to
that social scene.
I'd also speak honestly with her teachers about your feelings
and concerns as you've done here. They can work with her and
you and keep an eye out for what's happening. Be open to
anything she could be doing better socially, if that's an issue.
In my own daughter's case, the friendship break was engineered
by a parent of my daughter's best friend who disapproved of our
family at a time when they were young enough that the adult had
control. It did not initiate between the girls so it was
especially baffling and heartbreaking to my daughter. The other
parent admitted what was going on and eventually I just told my
daughter the truth. A baffling reason was better than none and
she calmed down a bit. But still I think she attributed a great
degree of it to her own self.
Later, I think because of how little sense it made to her and
how little control she had and how abrupt and hard the loss
was, she felt like a victim and took some victim behaviors into
future interactions. That's what we worked on, myself and her
teachers. And she was young enough for a long time that
progress was made. Until middle school there's a lot that can
happen between the child and adults who love her (in middle
school they close off quite a bit, especially girls).
I hope this is helpful. Hang in there, stay engaged as you are,
stay hopeful, stay free of negativity toward others as you seem
to be, remember and build on all the love coming from you her
parents because that matters, and keep imagining your daughter
- empathetic parent
Let's be clear about what you're asking: you're asking for
advice on the best way to manipulate and control your
daughter's life, to prevent her from experiencing her life
lessons because it is so hard for you to see her hurting.
I can't in good conscience do that. Honesty is the best policy
here. No made-up stories, no putting it on you, no avoidance.
BTW, I am your daughter in adult form. I was (am) intense and
very sensitive, and more likely to want fewer people I'm closer
to. I have frequently played the role of rejected one.
If you think this ends in first grade, you're not seeing the
big picture. There will be many more friends who will dump her,
boy or girlfriends as well, as well as other ways in life where
she will be rejected.
You, just like your daughter, are simply going to have to
discover some coping strategies for what IS, and meet life head
on. There will be lots of emotional pain, but hopefully you
grow through these experiences, and manage them as best you
So there's the backdrop. But on the surface, the thing to say
is simply: It looks like she's doing her own thing these days.
We should probably give her some space, and find new and
different people to enjoy. She may pause and consider this. She
may ask why, or cry, or say she doesn't understand. I still
drive my mom crazy many months after relationships end with all
my attachments to exes, but she's stuck with it since she's my
Your job is to allow her to have her (authentic, not
manipulated) experience, and guide her in a way that makes her
most happy and ultimately contributing to society in some way.
Because you will not be able to fix every last thing in life;
might as well suck it up now and start teaching her how to deal
with these thigns. Nurture and hold her when she hurts,
explaining (if she asks) that everyone has different feelings
and ideas, and that the best thing to do is to let her (ex-
friend) go, and open her heart for new people to take up that
space. And to assure her that people come and go in life, and
whenever someone goes, someone else will come by that you will
then care about (the whole you must close one door to open
Hello, my six year old just started first grade and we are wanting to
start the year off right. He got along alright in kindergarten but
did not end up with any close friends. Toward the end of the school
year we had an SST because of some behavioral issues which mostly
occurred on the playground because he was bored. He would spend most
of his time hiding and startling unsuspecting kids. The SST was
unproductive in that no ideas came out of it. My son is not the
athletic type and really enjoys doing artwork and dramatic play. He
is very active and has trouble sitting still in class. He has a
couple of close friends outside school. We would love to put him in a
social skills group but fear that he would end up with kids who are
much more severe. I'd love some advice on how to help my son have a
successful year. BTW, he's already been seen by a psychologist and
has no diagnosis.
you might look into Trails to Success, an equine social skills
group run by Maria Antoniadis and Chris Duis. It is expensive,
but the great thing about it is that kids don't realize they're
learning ''social skills.'' They are learning about how to take
care of horses and to ride, and working on their ability to
take in social information and work as a team through that. So
it's like 4-H club, but all the activities are focused on
learning how to make friends.
When we first heard about it I just thought it was too
expensive, but my son did the summer version and it was so
great we decided to just bite the bullet and keep going. I
think there's a year-long waiting list.
My son had social issues. The best thing that we did for him was
schedule one-on-one play dates. Made a HUGE difference. They
should be short - about 2 hours. Also, they should allow the
opportunity for kids to get to know each other (i.e., no video
games, not an outing with the parents, no siblings around). Coach
your kid on how to be a good host as well (i.e., don't leave your
guest alone, the guest gets to pick the game/activity, etc.) Have
a snack in the waiting in case things go south and a break is needed.
What does your son want? Is it possible he'd just like to be
quiet at recess? Have you asked him which kids he likes to play
with? or if he'd like to play with other kids? Why not ask the
teacher for her thoughts & suggestions? Maybe there are some
games he could play on the playground that would help him get the
willies out before he goes back to class wiggly. (e.g., maybe he
really does need more active time on the playground so he's less
active in class).
I am the single mom of 9 year old son who is an only child. My
son “Sam” loves to have friends come along on trips, to the
movies, baseball games, etc. He has many friends and I enjoy the
watching the kids together.
Sam has had a friend since preschool (age 2.5). Sam loves his
friend ''Ben.'' When they play together they have a great time.
When we take Ben to a baseball game, Ben will go into the
bathrooms and splash water all over the place, or when we go out
to dinner, Ben will have farting episodes - not once but five or
six times and then laugh loudly - people turn around to stare,
etc. (I am both embarrassed and outraged when this happens). Ben
does not know how to order from a menu, he runs up and down the
isles in stores and has difficulty playing with children other
than my son.
Talking to Ben's mom has not helped - ''Boys will be boys.'' My
son's behavior does not change when he's around Ben, he still
behaves, but he's beginning to be more and more embarrassed by
Now the question, do I say to Ben directly, ''Ben, we love having
you with us at our home and other places, but farting,
splashing, etc. is not okay. If it continues I don't know if you
will be invited to come with us.'' Or do as I did with Sam and
just leave the cart in the store, pack up our food to go, leave
the baseball game and go home when the behavior disrupts me and
other around us? Also, what to do about Ben's mom, who laughs
off the bad behavior. I should also say at this point that Ben’s
Mom thinks I am to strict with Sam and that I expect behavior
from Sam that is not age appropriate.
My other thought was to just stop inviting Ben altogether. My
problem with this is that Ben has told us that he does not have
any other friends. The only kids he plays with are the children
of his Mom's friends.
Any suggestions are appreciated.
Want to do the Right Thing -AND- Don't want to be Embarassed
I understand your frustration - here's my thoughts after
several years of montessori education for my kids.
Set clear limits with consequences for this child when in your
house or with you. Be gentle, pro-active and fair (i.e., don't
wait until he's made you mad or embarrassed because then your
reaction will be much more severe).
For example, tell him that you would like to take him to dinner
with you and your son, but that you have some rules about
restaurant behavior and that he will need to respect those
rules or be asked to sit in the car/waiting area/leave the
restaurant. And most important - stick with your
consequences. He might not get it the first time or the second
or the third even, but eventually he will.
Of course you should set boundaries with your son's friend. In
life different behavior is expected in different venues and with
different people. I see absolutely nothing wrong with telling
your son's friend what your expectations of behavior are when he
is with you - either in your home or elsewhere. It's no
different than telling a child the rules of your house that may
differ from the rules he is subject to at home. For example
jumping on the bed may be o.k. at his house but not at yours.
You would be well within your rights to tell him ''we dont' jump
on the furniture in our house'' and expect him to abide by that
limitation or not come over. The same is true for rude and/or
disruptive behavior when you are chaperoning an activity.
As for the mother, I think you need to be clear with her about
what your expections are of her son when he accompanies you to
various outings. You should inform her not only of his behavior
but also your response to his behavior. Tell her that you love
the boys friendship and would like to continue to have her son
come with you on various outings but that you will not be able
to continue to invite him to things if he doesn't behave
differently. Ask her for her assistance in communicating that
message to her son. If she is unwilling to do so, then you stop
inviting him without apology.
It takes a village
You say that ''Ben'' has no other friends and he is embarrassing
your son with his unpleasant behavior? You're the only mother
who still lets ''Ben'' play with your son? Do you see something
wrong with this picture?
Why are you trying to teach your son that he's obligated to
tolerate someone who doesn't respect him and who is a bad
influence? Someday, he'll come home with an ill-mannered fiancee
he felt obligated to spend time with.
Tell ''Ben'' directly that his behavior was inappropriate and
disrespectful, that you are taking him home immediately, and that
he will not be visiting again until he no longer does behavior X.
Don't waste time talking to the mother; ''Ben'' can explain
himself what he was doing wrong.
I think you should be direct with Ben. You are doing him a favor in the long run. It's
okay for him to learn how to behave appropriately in public even if his mother doesn't
think he needs to. Here's your wording, altered to what I would say...''Ben, we love
having you with us at our home and other places, but farting, splashing, etc. is not
okay because.... If it continues I won't invite you to come with us anymore. We like you
and would like you to go places with us, so I hope you will start to make different
choices about how to act when we go out together.''
it takes a village
My general rule, that I tell my kids (and I've read about this on
this list)is that every family has their own rules, and that when
we have other children over, they have to follow our rules. I
think you are on the right track, and if he really just can't
follow your rules, you will have to be firm and not include him.
I have a daughter who is nine, so I'm not so clear on boy
behavior, but what you are describing sounds more like younger
child stuff. Also, I think that outings with kids should be fun
for parents also (with the limitations, of course, that kids have
-- they will get grumpy, tired, mad, etc. more quickly than we
would). If it's just a real drag for you to always have to deal
with his behavior, why bother? Perhaps you can help your son
think of other children that you'd want to invite along. In my
opinion, it's good for children to have new friendships, and
sometimes they need our help figuring out who to invite. And,
maybe if you take a few months off from including Ben, and then
try again, he will try to follow your rules.
Have you ever explained your expectations to Ben? I would
simply say, ''When we go out to eat--I would appreciate it if
you try to be on your best behavior. Each mom has her own
rules. Your mom might be ok with you making farting noises in
public but I don't think it's appropriate so please don't do it
when you're with me''. However, I would avoid the threat of---
''OR else you can't come over anymore''--that's just insensitive
and a kid of age 9 would probably just get hurt feelings
instead of actually understanding.
It might take a little more energy, but every time Ben does
something that you don't approve of, instead of just walking
away, leaving the baseball game, cutting the dinner early, etc--
actually take the time to explain why his behavior is upsetting
to you and how you expect him to behave. I'm a strong supporter
of the belief ''It takes a village to raise a child''. If you
really care about your son and his best friend of 7 years, take
the time to ''parent'' him a little bit without being too
invasive. Make sure it's ok with his mom that you give Ben
friendly reminders about how you expect him to behave when he's
on playdates at your house or outings with you family. With a
little bit of extra guidance, he could learn to change his
behavior--he's only 9!
I would suggest that before you embark on the next outing with ''Ben''
you non-judgmentally explain to him that your family rules require a
certain type of behavior - be explicit. don't condemn his behavior or his
mother's acceptance of it. Tell him very clearly that if he is not able to do
this, you all will leave the venue. Then follow through. If you do have to
leave, explain to him why and say that you hope next time he can
comply. Try one more time - hope it works. If it doesn't, explain to him
that when he feels he can behave as you have asked you would be
happy to include him again.
This won't be easy and may not be successful. But I think it is important
that your son see that you mean what you say. I also think it is important
to be very matter-of-fact about it. It is not a negotiable issue. I have
done this when I drive one of my three son's carpools. I explain at the
outset to the car full of usually all boys, that certain language and
behavior is not acceptable in my car. Almost always they comply, if they
don't I remind them. On the rare occasion it continues, I pull the car over
and stop. I usually say nothing and they get it and stop.
Boys can be well behaved
When I watch other kids with my child, I discipline them for the
same things that I discipline my child for. It sounds like Ben
has not had anyone really show him what good behavior is. Tell
him what is acceptable and what is not if he wants to continue
to play with Sam (and be sure tell him that you would love them
to continue to play together). If he misbehaves, do and say to
him what you would do and say with your son. You may not be
able to do anything about the mom, but you can talk with Ben and
deal with his behavior.
As the mother of a 10 month old, I haven't had to deal with
these issues yet but I do have some gut feelings about your
situation. Having been raised by a mother like you who expected
good behavior at ALL ages, I know kids can behave when it's
expected. I'm sure this is a very stressful situation given how
close your son is to ''Ben'' and that ''Ben'' doesn't have any other
friends. It seems obvious why he doesn't. If I were you, I
would explain very simply to Ben that his behavior is
unacceptable at your house and when he is Sam's guest. I've
been amazed at how adaptable kids are; behaving well when they
know they can't get away with bad behavior. Kids recognize and
welcome limits. Unfortunately, talking to his mother directly
isn't working so try it with him. Explain clearly what you
expect and the types of behavior you want him to exhibit as well
as the consequenses if he doesn't behave. Show him how to
behave at a restaurant (basic manners, coloring, reading a menu,
etc). Sadly, it seems he's never been taught and may not know
what to do. Then follow through. If he misbehaves, leave the
situation and take him home. My guess is he'll learn very
quickly that if he wants to hang out with Sam and do all the fun
things you provide, he'll straighten up. It may take a few
times but I think he'll get it. Best of luck and by the way:
Sam is very lucky to have a Mom who cares so much about him and
No Farting at my table either
Just because your parenting style is different than this boy's family uses at home,
doesn't mean you can't follow it. I think if it's in your house, it's your rules. There's
nothing wrong with your rules. If you are out and about, you are in charge and he has
to follow your rules. This doesn't need to be a challenge for him. Don't worry about
getting approval or offending the other mom. Wouldn't you expect your son to follow
her rules if he was at his friend's house?
If I were your situation, I would continue to allow your son to
invite Ben over to play, but I would not include Ben in any
future outings. At some point, your son will choose to stop
playing with this boy or he will make him shape up. If the other
Mom asks why he isn't included in outings, you are within your
right to say that he is 'just too much of a handful for you.'
It sounds like you have tried talking to the other Mom about your
concerns. Her line 'Boys will be boys' is a bit of a cop out,
but in reality may just mean that she is overwhelmed with the
situation or doesn't know how to work on certain behaviors with
her son. I think that we've all 'been there' at some point or
another with our children. Most of us choose not to throw up our
hands, but try to find an effective way of handling unappealing
behaviors. Maybe this woman will come around, but until then you
don't need to deal with it publicly. You actually don't need to
deal with it at all, but I generally find playdates at my house
to be easy even if I don't always approve of another child's
There's nothing you can do about Ben's mom, so stop worrying
about her. Also, don't invite Ben over as a charity case,
''because he has no friends.'' However, if *your son* likes Ben,
simply make it clear to Ben that while he's in your house (or
with you on a trip), that he must follow your rules. You might
want to curtail the treats like baseball games or restaurant
trips with Ben until he learns to behave. Tell him you're not
going to take him out again until he has demonstrated good
behavior at your house.
You're actually doing Ben and his mom a big favor by being strict
like this. Maybe he'll actually learn some normal behavior!
Nine years old is plenty old enough to not be disruptive in
public. No wonder he has no friends! The sad part is that
unless his mom learns to teach him to set limits, he will be a
miserable adult too, because no one will like him then either,
and he will not understand why.
feel sorry for spoiled kids
When you have responsibility for a child, I believe that you
can set the limitations for that child. I would not tolerate
the behavior that you describe from any child that I was out
with. I think that Ben is old enough that you can tell him
what the expectations are if he is going to go out with you.
Let him know that he will not be invited if he can not meet
your expectations. When you are out with him if he is acting
out, take him home immediately, even if it means spoiling the
day for your son.
Since you have already talked to his mother, and she made it
clear that she does not think that there is an issue, you will
not change her mind.
When my children are with another adult/family I tell them that
they must follow the rules of that family. It is so nice of
you to take another child with you to the movies, baseball
games, etc., that you should feel comfortable.
Meanwhile, encourage your son to branch out and invite other
kids to come with you. You might find another boy and family
that is more aligned with your parenting style.
Does ''Ben'' have special needs? The behavior you describe would
not even be tolerated by my 3 and 5 year olds (and I have a
very active son).
When my kids have playmates over, we go by house rules. I
think I would make it very clear to Sam that if he is to go on
an outing with you and your son, that he must follow
appropriate behavior, or else he won't be allowed to go with
you anymore. There is a reason that the other kids won't play
with him and his mother is not doing him any favors by brushing
this off as normal boy behavior.
My best childhood friend's 7 year old daughter has made friends
with a 14 year old girl in her condo complex. The 14 year old
is very immature for her age.At first my friend thought by
having talks with her daughter about making different choices
than her friend - since the teen talks back and often disobeys
her parents, her daughter would be ok. They see each other
several times per week.
The other nite my friend found some papers with things
like ''have sex with a boy'' and more explicit things i guess
they were using to play a game with. My friend was horrified,
but unsure what to do. She was thinking of giving the teen a
second chance, talking with her daughter about why it was wrong
and sex in general. For me it seems clear that this was beyond
reasonable and that ''talking with your daughter'' was not going
to sufficiently address the situation - that 7 years of age was
far to young to be exposed,let alone try to comprehend in a
game,the actions they were toying with. I also told her that
she is putting far too much responsibility on her daughter and
that it was unreasonable to think her daughter could possibly
make the ''good choices'' all the time when she is at a buffet of
Aside from this, her daughter's best friend at school is very
poorly behaved - so much so that her daughter's teacher has
made it known that she doesn't think it's the best idea for her
to be best friends with this other child. So she can't be
constantly going against these friends who make more bad
choices than good ones.
I have shared my feelings - but i know my friend is challenged
when it comes to putting her foot down with her kids. I
suggested that she try to find opportunities for her daughter
to play with other kids. We also discussed how to share these
findings with the 14 year old's dad with whom she is friendly
I'm also a bit concerned that if this continues (or is it too
late) since my 5 year old adores my friend's daughter - but now
I'm not sure if she will share these ideas with her!
I'm wondering if there are things that we have not considered
in this situation, what others would do and how to enforce the
new boundaries? I know her daughter will protest fiercely and
that will be very hard on her mother.
You gave your friend wonderful advice. I hope she takes it. Her
daughter needs to meet girls who are not a bad influence. Is her
daughter's self-esteem so low that she always seeks out the
misfit kids? Counseling wouldn't hurt, either.
Maybe the daughter could entertain your daughter (under your
watchful eye) for awhile, until your friend is able to get her
into a class at the Y or any activity where she'll meet kids who
are not future delinquents.
Wow -- your post was horrifying. I would absolutely not let this
7-year-old spend any more time with this 14-year-old. The whole
thing sets off all sorts of alarm bells to me. 7 is way too
young to know how to deal with anything sexual. I would worry
about abuse. ''Explaining'' to the 7-year-old is not going to cut
it -- you have to tell your friend to take her child away from
this 14-year-old immediately. The only exception would be if the
girl's mother is in the room with them all the time. Sorry to be
so harsh, but this really sounded scary. I would also not let
your 5-year-old have contact with the 7-year-old unsupervised
either -- who knows what she has been exposed to?
Hey there, one and all. So, my eldest daughter recently started
Kindergarten. She's among the youngest in the class, having just
turned 5 at the end of the summer, and the class is very small,
just 14 kids, only 5 of whom are girls. Among this 5 is a very
glamorous, charming 6 year old who I will call simply M. My kid
fell head over heels for this girl in about ten minutes, and the
first couple of weeks was all 'I want to be like M, M is my best
friend, M found a cure for cancer at recess today' and like that.
However, it has now become clear that M stands for Mean, and my
kid is floundering with a couple of issues: 1) What do you do
when someone you like is mean to you? 2) How do you stand up for
yourself if you're afraid that person won't be your friend any
more? 3) What do you do if that person 'forces' you to be mean to
other kids? (Yes, I raised a collaborator, oh the shame.) My kid
is intense and sensitive, and is behaving very well at school and
then blowing a gasket when she gets home. Screaming, yelling,
pulling unbelievable 'tude, hitting, then bursting into tears,
you name it. She is clearly acting out the anger she is subduing
at school, and I am trying to support the feelings without
supporting the behavior, etc etc, but it's hard work. Can anyone
suggest good books, tools, movies, methods for helping her get
through this? Obviously this is a lesson that keeps coming up
over and over, but when I talk to her she gets all teenagery
about it and demands that I 'not talk to her ANY MORE' (exit,
slamming door). I would giggle in her face, but that's probably
not a good strategy.
Abbi, mother of a 5 year old teenager
My first reaction is: where is the teacher? We went through this in a
way when my son was around that age. I confronted the teachers with
the issue. The teachers did do some classroom behavior social graces
type of education and practice. It seemed to help for a while and
then the issue started again. The mean girl in our situation actually
confronted ME, which opened the door for me to have a dialogue on
niceness with her. THAT, interestingly enough, seemed to settle the
issue once and for all. Not that I necessarily condone that, but I am
really good at appropriately calling kids on their ''stuff'' and
helping them figure out another way. There are good books out there.
Books on bullying would be helpful. Also, there are some books out on
''Mean Girls'' and ''Queen Bees''. I am not remember the titles right
now...perhaps google those phrases? I would separate the girls. I
wish you the very best, it is a certainly a challenge.
Read the book called Odd Girl Out. I forget the author's name
right now but it is a very good book about social dynamics and
cliques in the little girl world. The author points out that
little boys seem to play less social games than little girls.
It's actually kind of a scary book since she points out that
little girls' social games can scar some people's psyches into
adulthood! It offers helpful suggestions about how to encourage
your daughter to not be a bully or participate in the
scapegoating or ostracism of her peers.
Hi--This is a common problem for girls, which will play out
year after year in school. You probably won't like my advice,
but here it is:
1) What do you do when someone you like is mean to you?
Point out to her that if someone is mean to her, they are not
acting like a friend. She should look for other kids to play
with if this girl continues to be mean. If you daughter insists
on hanging out with this mean kid, then tell her she shouldn't
complain about being treated badly.
2) How do you stand up for yourself if you're afraid that
person won't be your friend anymore?
That person is not her friend anyway if she's being mean to
your daughter. If your daughter continues to follow around a
girl who's mean to her, she's learning to be a doormat---nip it
in the bud.
3) What do you do if that person 'forces' you to be mean to
Your daughter needs to know that she cannot blame anyone else
for her behavior. No one can make her be mean to other kids. If
she chooses to be mean she is just being a follower.
You may want to try something that you wouldn't do if your daughter
was dealing with a mean 13 y.o. Keep in mind this girl is only 5 -
although she may seem like the evil prom queen/head cheerleader
you remember from high school, she IS a five year old. Suggest that
your daughter have the girl over for a playdate. You can monitor
their interaction and see what's going on, and you can talk to the
girl directly. Seeing you deal with this girl yourself will also
empower your daughter and de-mystify this girl's mystique. If she's
nice to your daughter one-on-one, and mean in a group, you can talk
with your daughter about why that might be, too (insecurity).
We are also dealing with a similar issue with my 4 yr old in
preschool. I'm not sure how effectively, but my plan of action is
1. To allow her to express her anger without violence. This is hard,
because I have to recognize it's not about the immediate issue or
directed at me, personally. Also, I'm not sure if she is mature
enough to exercise any judgement about what physical expression is
appropriate. At this point, she gets an immediate consequence for
violent expression and constant reminders at the time and during calm
moments about appropriate physical expressions (kicking the floor,
jumping, hitting pillows) I accept that at this age the concept might
not stick and my job is to give consistent consequences and constant
reminders about appropriate behavior. 2. To help her find individual
things she is good at. I was the target of ''mean girls'' in junior
high and what saved me was playing violin and having music class
friends that didn't go to my school. I put a lot of energy into
keeping up my daughter's non-school friendships and pointing out
things at school that she does well when I pick her up-like ''you
really work hard and make beautiful things in the art corner'' . 3.
To act out mean scenarios with her where I'm the meanie and she tells
me (in a strong but appropriate way) what she thinks about that, or
with dolls and each doll deals with it differently (she is pretty
happy when the mean doll and the violent doll get in trouble). I read
a book called ''Raising Calm and Compassionate Children'' that talks
about helping kids find their own personal power. That's what we are
trying to do.
Call me old-fashioned but this has me bothered! My daughter
has just started kindergarten, and during a playdate I heard
one of the little girls from her class talking about how
another little boy was her boyfriend -- they hold hands, he
gives her little presents, their ''playdates'' are called dates.
Not that this is a HUGE deal, but isn't this a bit
inappropriate? They may not be doing anything that parents
would dissapprove of now, but to me it just seems like gateway
behavior -- the first step in contextualizing (sexualizing
even) relationships in a way that is not realistically
appropriate for years to come for these kids. I just think it
warrants pointing out to kids (although I would not say it to
someone else's kid, I would most certainly tell mine) that
kindergarteners actually don't have boyfriends and girlfriends,
just plain old friends and gender doesn't factor in -- am I the
only one for whom this just doesn't sit right? I see the
wisdom in not making a big deal about it, but does anyone else
think that it is maybe just a little bit of a deal, so to
speak? Just curious --
I think this boyfriend/girlfriend thing is pretty normal at that
age. I have a 4yo and he has a ''girlfriend'' (his word) at
preschool -- basically they're just best friends. I think it's
kind of cute/funny. I remember my 1st and 2nd grade classmates
having mock weddings at recess -- I think they're just exploring
another aspect of the grownup world, like playing fireman or
chef or whatever. If you don't make a big deal out of it, they
probably won't either.
It's no surprise that little kids, little girls especially, pick
up on these messages about themselves and about gender
relationships. I've always found it's important not to judge or
lecture (they are just trying to adapt to their world, after all,
which is something we praise them for all the time), but instead
to ask questions. ''Really? What is a girlfriend/boyfriend?''
''Why do boys buy girls gifts? Do boys get gifts too? How does
that work?'' ''Gee, I wonder what would happen if...'' Usually,
the kids have their own interpretations of these things, since
they're just getting stereotypes from the culture around them,
and then supplying their own ''reasons'' for it. I've had some
very interesting conversations with my kids (now 4 and 9) about
such things (gender, race, disability, wealth, etc), just by
asking questions. With a few ''Hmm. I don't get it''s thrown in.
I hope such conversations continue into the 'tween years, when
their assumptions about the social world get really nutty. The
point is to get them *thinking about it on their own* and not
just having your well-meaning words go in one ear and out the
other. Oh yeah, and we'd all be better off if no one bought
their little girls ''Born to Shop'' t-shirts. Sheesh.
Think ''Chauncey Gardner''
When my brother was in kindergarten (in 1985) he had a girlfriend
- he called her his ''true love''. He had another true love in
first grade. He then remained single until middle school. I
think it's pretty cute.
OMG!! Your post really brought back the memories for me. I was one of
kindergardeners who had a ''boyfriend'' (34 years ago, now!). Mostly we
together, but one day I kissed him on the mouth. WOW it was electric! I
determined to get him into the girls bathroom and do some more of THAT.
got the chance though. He and his parents moved back to France. Sigh.
So, speaking from personal experience, you're way overreacting. I was
overly sexualized kindergardener, I was a normal kid who was curious. I
engage in truly sexual behavior until I was much older, made sure the
first one was
a nice guy, managed to avoid pregnancy and STD's and am generally a
adjusted adult, with a healthy sex-life.
I think that children can have curiosity about sex and sexuality quite
certainly did). Unfortunately, there are sick adults out there who use
this fact to
assert that children are, therefore ready for sex quite early (with said
absolutely disagree, obviously, but I do think that exploring (by that,
I mean calling
one another ''boyfriend'' and ''girlfriend'' and even ''playing
doctor'') with their peers
is perfectly normal and NOT ''gateway'' behavior.
I think Kindergarteners DO actually have crushes and are attracted to
your daughter may be having this with the boy. I would talk with her
about ALL the
kinds of relationships we have, boyfriends, girlfriends, just friends,
etc. I think there
is a problem when she would think that's the only kind of relationship
she can have
with a boy. I know I did and my daughter did have boys as ''just
friends'' when we
were little. It makes a good mix especially in the 5-6-7th grades when
relationships can get so psychologically complicated, what a relief it
is to just go
and play basketball with the boys!
You are not old fashioned! My friend and I were just having this
discussion and find it a little unsettling, too. I feel so old
when I say this, but no one I knew had kindergarten boyfriends
'back in our day'. I think given the messages about sex in the
media, it is our responsibility to counterbalance that...I think
your response about everyone being friends is excellent...and I
DREAD the day my nine-month-old hits kindergarten!
I remember having crushes and boyfriends as early as
kindergarten. It never lead to anything serious or even sexual
experimentation. However, it is part of sexual development and I
think asking kids to repress these normal feelings and expression
of feelings is asking for more trouble.
Boy can I relate! My kindergarten daughter told me that she has
a ''boyfriend'' who happens to be a 10 year old boy! I have no
idea what that means to her but it made me very uncomfortable.
I spoke with my daughter's teacher about it and have said to my
daughter that the time for boyfriends will come later. But I
don't know what else to do. I look forward to reading other
Well...they aren't doctors, or astronauts, or mommies or daddies
or fairies, or dancers, or dogs, either. Depending on the
context, what you're hearing about could be no more dangerous or
confusing than all the other fantasies little kids have. I think
I'd ask the girl's mom about the whole thing - whether she knows,
and what she thinks, etc., but just out of curiosity.
I remember being engaged for most of elementary school -- and
even who I was engaged to -- but I don't remember anymore if he
knew or cared about our engagement.
I agree with you 100 percent! Kids that age have a hard time
with boundaries. What starts off as ''cute and innocent'' can
easily lead to behavior that in this day and age with zero
tolerance and elementary school student sexual harrassment
suits/policies, could get a kid expelled.
I'd raise it with the teacher if you're not comfortable
discussing it with the parents. Also I'd bring this situation up
in casual conversation at the next birthday party or class
gathering to gauge where other parents are on this issue. It's
possible they don't even know it's going on.
Either way, I think the tact you are taking in discussing this
with your child is dead-on. Who cares if you're old-fashioned.
You have to do what you think is best for your child. For what
it's worth, there's at least one other mom (and dad) out here who
agree with you.
I wouldn't worry about it. When I was in first grade, I had
a ''boyfriend'' for some time (a week? Can't remember). We
called each other boyfriend and girlfriend and made a big deal
about it. At one point, someone dared us to kiss and he kissed
me on the lips! (It was very quick and clumsy and I thought it
was yucky.) Anyway, I think these are harmless ways kids
explore adult roles. Don't make a big deal out of it and this
too shall pass.
I have to disagree, just based on personal experience. Not only
did I have a ''boyfriend'' in kindergarten, the boy (my next door
neighbor) and I were engaged to be married, too!
Not only did he and I not marry (though we are good friends, as
we should be), I turned out to be a fairly late-bloomer in
relationships, marriage, etc.
We were mimicking what was around us--our parents' relationships,
our older siblings--and that's it. It passed as quickly as it came.
just a phase
I wouldn't worry too much about this. I'm 41, and when I was in
kindergarten I had two fiancees--little boys my age who had each
given me Cracker Jacks rings and had promised to marry me. That
kind of play ended for me after kindergarten and wasn't a sign of
anything sexual at all. As long as this isn't something being
pushed on the children by adults, I'd classify this as
play-acting and not worry about it.
Not to minimize your concern, I had to laugh when I read your
note. I had a girlfriend in kindergarten (we held hands, called
each other boyfriend and girlfriend, even kissed in the cloak
room once). My next girlfriend was freshman year in high school.
The next one after that was junior year in college. Let's just
say that my kindergarten thing was not a gateway to anything... :)
Kingergarten was the high point! :)
I think the problem with you is you are seeing things with ''adult
Children are children and their innocence is a beauty and something to
cherished and admired. I fondly remember having a huge crush on
a boy when I was in kindergarten/first grade. Why start the
judgments so soon? Let children be children and relax.
my daughter's in 1 grade. i recall she and her best friend spent
much time last year chasing a particular boy, and she'd tell me
she was ''in love'' with him, wanted to marry him...
as i recall, my best friend since 3rd grade (in 1972!!!) had a
''boyfriend'' in 1st grade that she would hide with and kiss during
recess. and last year i heard that several girls at her (then
kindergarten) son's school were all claiming him for a boyfriend,
which he found mostly irritating, although he likes girls a lot.
especially mine. ;)
so relax, they're just ''trying on'' the gender roles, and
practicing crushes, and it seems to be more about relating to
their girl peers than to the boys.
Oh, please! Children are children!
Don't worry! Kid's play reflects their world; they play mommy
and daddy, fire fighter, teacher, you name it. My son was
engaged to be married in kindergarten. He and his fiancee
eventually had an amicable break up. They are still in the same
class. I am just waiting until they are grown up and I can tease
them about it.
I'm remembering the Beverly Cleary books - didn't Ramona run
around telling everyone she was going to marry Henry Huggins when
she was in kindergarten? Those books were written in the 50s or 60s,
too, I believe. So this has been around for a while, I think.
Also Old-Fashioned But Unalarmed By Kindergarten Crushes
My daughter is in a Berkeley public school, does well above the
standard performance, is fun, kind, and happy. She has a
collection of friends who she plays with at recess here and
there, but hasn't any one friend in particular who she is close
to. She also plays soccer, goes to Sunday school, and camps in
the summer. My concern is that there is no one is particular
who she is building a friendship with, who comes to her mind as
her friend. I see kids in private schools who seem to have more
in common with their interests and schedules, and generally
hang out together more. Am I missing something here? Thanks for
I, too, have a first grade daughter in a public school, where she does
and socially, but she lacks a ''best friend''. I think this is just
the way it is in first
grade, at least for a lot of kids. They fall into little groups of
friends instead. The
''best friend'' title may even be given to a different kid on different
days of the week
depending on what happens at school each day. But for the most part, my
has 5 or 6 best friends that she hangs out with, not one. If your
happy, as mine does, I wouldn't worry about it at this point in time.
Sounds to me like she has friends. But I don't know the
situation. Perhaps you are looking for one bestest friend. Not
all kids operate that way. Does this bother her?
One thing you can do to make your family feel more connected to
other families in your community is to take the initiative to
invite another child or a family along. This can be a child or
family from school, or one from soccer, or one from camp. You
can reach out and invite a family to meet you at a park at a
given time, or at a swimming pool in the community during open
swim time. Or the library. Or for pizza. Starting at a neutral
spot may be easier for you or for them. Or can you have an
after-school play date with one child and then bring them home
later, or have their parents pick them up at your home? Do you
go to school evnets? Get to know the other families in your
child's class and ask the most likely candidates if they'd like
to do ''x'' with your daughter and you some time, and then
follow-through and set it up. Have fun!
If your daughter is happy, why are you worried? It sounds like she has a
of friends. I don't think it would be different for her at a private
school. It seems like
there is this feeling that if we send our kids to public school that
they are somehow
''missing something'' (i get that way too, sometimes). kids are kids
wherever they go to
school. maybe yours is just the kind that prefers groups to one-on-one
From what you wrote, this sounds like your issue - not hers. Your
daughter is doing lots of great things and not everyone has a
best friend in first grade. I think the best thing you can do
here is just relax and let her be herself.
I have two thoughts. One, is she happy? Maybe it's all OK with
her. Two, happy or unhappy, at her age you have some control
over her social life. You can socialize with other parents and
make playdates with the ones whose kids play with your daughter
at school, or have get-togethers with other families. Also, let
her know she can ask so-and-so over if she wants to. This might
just get the ball rolling.
My 6 y.o. son's teacher has expressed some concern about my
son's retreating during recess. She was wondering if there was
something happening at home. When I told her there wasn't she
seemed surprised. Apparently my son refuses to play with other
children and instead sits in a far off corner, during recess he
opts to stay close to the teacher on duty instead of playing
with the other kids. He's always been a happy go lucky kid with
tons of confidence, but lately he does not seem happy, sulks
quite a bit and gets easily frustrated. I've talked to him about
what is going on at school, if there are any kids mistreating
him, if he's happy, etc. etc and although he answers each
question I feel that there is something he is not telling. He's
asked me not accept birthday party invitations, but I don't want
to encourage his behavior.Is this a developmental phase or
should we seek professional help? My husband and I are very
concerned and don't know what to do.
This sounds terrible! I have no idea what is going on, but it sounds like your son is
scared of another child or of getting in trouble or something. Just guessing. You need
to get him to talk to you. Maybe he isn't telling you because he thinks you might be
disappointed, or thinks he might get in trouble? The book ''How to talk so your kids
will listen & listen so your kids will talk'' is pretty good at giving skills on reluctant
talkers. Not rocket science, but may have some helpful hints.
Read that book myself
He sounds really unhappy and might benefit from talking to a counselor. I had
some creeps bullying/harassing me at school when I was a little older, at 9 and 11,
and though it didn't make me less social, it was really disturbing. Each time it was
only one person, so not obvious to a teacher, probably. In both cases, I felt so
sensitive about it that I didn't want to tell even my parents. (As a parent now, I hate
to think that my kids won't turn to me with their problems. But from my own
experience I know that kids often keep troubles to themselves, even with extremely
loving, supportive parents like mine!) At age 9, I must have finally blurted
something out about it, because I remember talking to the school counselor, who
then got the kid to stop. I don't remember telling any adult about the incident when
I was 11. Bullying or not, it seems like it would be good for him to have a chance to
talk to a counselor, at school or elsewhere. Perhaps someone he's not emotionally
involved with can help figure out what's going on.
kept problems to myself
Take heart: whether this is a phase or his personality, there
are many ways to help. My son has similar behavior and has
been diagnosed with social skills defecits. When I visited the
playground, I had great sympathy for him and other kids who are
intimidated by the chaos of it all. My son now works with a
speech therapist at his school, working in small groups of
peers with social nuances: how to start a conversation, read
body language, give and take advice/ideas. It has helped quite
a bit. I have gotten mixed advice about the playground: some
saying let him have his time alone to decompress, and some
saying we should be structuring his outside time as well, so
that he feels comfortable integrating into a larger group. I am
not sure of the answer. My advice is get professional help if
the behavior lasts more than a few weeks; the school system or
private physchiatrists can be of great help, and there so many
resources out there to help kids with basic social skills. Good
I am so sorry you and your son are struggling, him with an unknown issue, and you
with feeling you are left in the dark!
Something IS going on with your son. Trust your instincts...and his teacher's! She
has noticed a change and has expressed a concern. Typically a teacher does not
jump to a conclusion too quickly...so if she has approached you, she has been
observing this behavior for more than a couple of days.
It is so tricky. Kids do go in and out of phases based on both personality and
developmental leaps (and regression) and getting information from a 6 year old can
be challenging! See if you can find time when he is playing in his room by himself to
ask some leading questions. Tell him a story of when you were young and faced
exclusionary play at school (make something up if you have to...you will still go
through the pearly gates!) Leave lots of space for him to fill during the conversation,
and try NOT to make much eye contact until he really starts to open up. Make
suggestions of trusted adults he could confide in if he ''ever had a problem he didn't
feel comfortable expressing to you''. One job of parents is to help their children
learn how to get help...since it won't always be you they turn to! Make a journal with
him that he can draw in. Tell him you would be happy to help him write any words
in it or take dictation. Let him know that he can write silly, funny, wacky, things as
well as frustrations, sadness, anger, and fears. Don't suggest to him it is private...or
it will be one more way he keeps information hidden. On the other hand, don't
suggest it isn't private...or he may not use it. Just be neutral as to it's privacy and let
him take it from there. Keep in contact with his teacher. If you discover an issue TRY
to remain calm and think through steps to help HIM work it through. Consider that
what you hear is from his perspective. Believe him and yet know it may not be a
ALWAYS trust your instinct with the caveat that humans experience events
depending on their own perspective on them. For instance he may feel excluded by
a group of kids. They may not know he feels that way. They may not know he is
even there...or they start to notice that he is feeling excluded...and that power that
they have just realised...becomes very alluring. Then they exclude him on purpose.
Then maybe they tease him. They see that that gets a reaction...more power. and so
On the other hand, it may not be about exclusion at all. Keep listening for clues to
I know you will both figure this out with some creative navigation on your part!
I have a five year-old girl who is very intelligent and independent. She is capable of
handling herself well socially and seems confident in most situations. My concern is
that she does not seem interested in developing friendships outside her one close/
best friend. She goes to a great preschool in Oakland and interacts with the other
kids, just doesn't seem that interested in play dates with her classmates. I set them
up and am often disappointed in how they turn out (they play little together or she
gets bossy and wants to only do things her way). She spends A LOT of time reading
(she has been a fluent reader since she was 4) and playing make-believe on her own
or asks me to join in. Does this sound ''normal'' to you? Are there any other parents
out there who have had similar experiences? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts
and any observations of how things pan-out for kids like this over the years.
Your daughter sounds very much like mine. She much preferred (and at 9, still
prefers) her own company to that of her peers. She's bright, at ease in most
settings, a voracious reader - and shares few interests with other children. She has
one, maybe two close friendships; at 5 years old I'm not sure she even had one.
I also worried, and still do at times. I want her to be happy. But when I'm honest
with myself, I see that she is happy. She's different from her peers, but comfortable
in her skin and happy with her life. I expect that she'll always be a bit ''different,'' but
I try to concentrate on making her strong in who she is, so she can weather the
sometimes difficult times I know she'll have to go through.
My daughter sounds a lot like yours. She's 6 1/2 and has been
reading fluently since she was 4 as well. She will insist,
however, that she learned on her 5th birthday, since that's when
she *said* she was going to learn! She's very independent and
enjoys other kids but most of the time she can take them or leave
them. She's very happy playing by herself with her little people
in her room, or reading, or whatever. My son is the opposite! I
think that my daughter and your daughter just have a very good
sense of self. I think that it's kind of neat.
I can only speak to how I was as a kid, not being a mom yet. However, you could be
describing me when I was little--I read about your daughter and I totally see myself.
I was a early reader, very precocious, and just didn't get close to a lot of other kids. I
wasn't unhappy--I just liked reading and being in my own head better than doing
''normal kid stuff.'' I was always getting in trouble for reading when I was supposed
to be ''having fun.'' By middle school, this pretty much worked itself out--I got
interested in other activities, met people I liked, and had friends like any normal kid.
Now, in my 40s, I'm incredibly social. I think I just had to find people I liked
interacting with, and I didn't feel unfulfilled if they weren't around . . . I just read a
book (still do as a matter of fact--I've been known to read a book at a punk rock
show if I didn't like the band. I consider that ability a plus, not a handicap!)
If you're really worried, I'd say try to figure out stuff she'd really like (dance,
gymnastics, art, etc.) and get her involved in classes around those interests. That's
what really helped turn me from a bookworm to a person involved with others--
Former Weird Kid
I would not worry too much. She has one good friend - the key
is to have one friend to buffer against social isolation. She
doesn't sound that interested in socializing, but it sounds
like she is comfortable with peers, so again not a red flag for
problems. My daughter is also an obsessive reader and we have
a rule that she cannot read when a friend is over. It took her
awhile to become interested in play dates and eventually it
We have a daughter who is almost five and your daughter sounds
quite a bit like mine. (Your description of playdates sounds way
too familiar.) My 10-year old niece is similar too. I don't
have any good advice, but I wanted you to know that you're not
alone. My niece has a couple of good friends and does
exceptionally well in school. She might not ever become Ms.
Popular and have a huge group of friends, but I think she'll do
just fine in life. I try to remind myself that my daughter will
do fine too and that she doesn't (and shouldn't) be like everyone
else, even if the behavior seems antisocial sometimes. It's just
who she is. I just need to provide social opportunities and
encourage her without pushing. (Pushing absolutely doesn't work
with my daughter.) Good luck!
First of all I want to say that your child sounds bright and
based on your brief description of her characteristics, may be
possibly ''gifted''. You said yourself that, ''she is capable of
handling herself well socially and seems confident in most
situations''. To me that says it all!!! If SHE is happy with
her level of social activity and enjoys reading, then let her
be and don't force her to be or to behave in a way that she is
not comfortable with. Accept ''her'' as she is. You expressed
that, ''my concern is that she does not seem interested in
developing friendships outside her one close/ best friend''.
Some people are just interested in having one good friend and
that is enough for them, yet there are others who enjoy having
multiple friendships. Some of us are intoverted, while others
are extroverted. One way is not better than another, it is
just how each of us are in our own unique way.
I am an introverted adult and was somewhat as a child. I was
one of those children who had one great friend, (we are still
best friends 43 years later!!!). Growing up I always felt
wierd or that there was something wrong with me, with how I
was. My mother, much to her credit, used to say that most
people can only count their really good friends on one hand!
It wasn't until I was an adult that I began to understand that
HOW I am in the world is okay. I have also always enjoyed
spending a lot of alone time inspite of living in a society of
primarily extroverted individuals. I now have a 7 year old
daughter that may be of a similar personality type. I'll admit
that I was a little bit uneasy at first because I still carry a
bit of old baggage that says that having lots of friends and
being outgoing is better. But then I realized that I can
empathize with her because I understand intimately her unique
style and the beautiful way that she is.
She sounds normal. My daughter used to be like that. Now, she
has lots of friends and is always talking to them.I think it's a
Gosh, this sounds just like me as a child. Here's how I turned out. I've always liked
one-on-one interactions more than big groups. Not a big fan of parties full of
strangers. Learned to be less bossy. Still really like to read. Pretty creative and into art
stuff and solitary pursuits. Did relatively well in high school, did better in college. Did
not fully understand the girl social scene as a child. Would've liked my parents to
accept my non-girliness better. Been married over ten years, have two great kids, have
been gainfully employed for most of adult life. Consider myself ''normal.'' Hope this
Your posting brought me back to my childhood. I was exactly
like your daughter. I never had issues with it. I was happy
that way and I have to say that throughout my life (I am now
32) it has given me so much strenght. To this day i watch my
peers being so dependant on others for validation and feedback
and think how lucky i was that i did not that. It certainly
helped me not keep toxic people in my life. But i have to say
that i felt innapropriate as long as i lived near my
parents/family. They felt it was weird and always made little
comments that hurt my feelings. Ultimately i never changed
because i was happy that way but it did damage my relationship
with my parents and relatives as i felt they never accepted me
and i don't even live near them now. However I do have very
close friends but I was only able to develop that kind of
friendships in my late 20s..when it seemed to me that people
were then more true to themselves. I have a husband a baby and
interract a lot more now but still have what i think are very
good boundaries with others....and it makes me happy.
What is wrong with the way she is? It's the way she wants to
be. She isn't rude, innapropriate or doing bad things. just
being herslef. and she deserves that. So let her be wh she is
and she will be thankful for that later on.
That was me at 5! I also learned to read at 4, and wanted to
read ALL the time-outside, in math class, you name it-I was
always getting in trouble about it. (: I had a couple of friends
that I enjoyed but really preferred my own company most of the
time. I was on the more introverted end of things until college-
and from then on I've been definitely social and extroverted-but
I still love to read! I'm always sad to hear the range of
behavior and personality that exists in people questioned
as ''not normal''. Just think of all the adults you know-some
quiet, some loud, some introverted, some extroverted-it's all
ok. It takes all kinds to make a world.
Former Shy Girl
our 7 yr. old neighbor (boy) just recently told me (he was
laughing when he said it) that my 9 yr. old boy tried to kiss him
twice. once in a dark closet. i have never suspected my son to
be gay, but this seems like a clear indication? i don't want to
ask him about it because i don't want to draw attention to it and
make him feel bad, but on the other hand i'm curious as to what's
i think the neighbor boy was telling the truth when he said it
but i'm not sure it means what i think. we recently moved to a
remote area and changed schools twice in one year. he is lonely
i know it and has always wanted a brother. anyone have any advice ?
Rather than assuming anything at all, I think I would have (as soon as
you were told) just asked your son what the story was. Sometimes its
hard to be as casual as an occasion warrants, but making a big deal of
what is likely to be an impulsive action isn't the way to go. In my book
taking this as ''a clear indication'' that your son is gay is as harmful as
would be going off on him because you're afraid he might be.
I remember having a very odd experience one night (at about that age)
with a (girl) friend who is also now happily married, with 3 children (and
not gay). If our parents had ''accepted'' us, or ''rejected'' us, it would have
been equally harmful.
I am a straight married man with kids saying that many boys at
that age do this (I did) and I think it's considered normal and
is not necessarily an indication of anything.
First of all, what would do if it had been a girl instead? Would
you talk to him about it? If so, I would react the same way to
it. Just ask him about his feelings. Secondly, if he is going to
be gay, he will probably know it already (though he might not
know exactly what that entails) He's sure to have feelings
(crushes) on other boys by now. I don't think it would benfit
either of you to not talk about it. Do you think it would make
him feel badly if it had been a girl and you brought it up? I
think if you talk to him openly about it, you will not only NOT
make him feel badly about it, but you will give him the message
that you support him no matter what he is feeling. If you don't
talk to him about it, and he turns out to be gay, you might be
unconsciously be telling him that you don't approve of or support
him, and hopefully that is not the case.
I think you need to talk to your son about appropriate and inappropriate behavior.
This is something that could get him in trouble, if not dealt with. I wouldn't
gay versus not gay thing, as much as it's not okay to try to kiss other kids. You
want to talk to a counselor about this as well. If we lived in another society it
be a deal, but I think in this society, it's best to teach your children to not
try to kiss
other children, especially a nine year old trying to kiss a seven year old. I am
judgmental, but I just think a hands off policy is best. You can deal with his
later, as needed.
My neice has exibited gender bender speach and behavior ever
since she was 2 years old. We suspected that she migh be gay, but
thought that it could also be young misunderstandings of social
conventions. She is now 12 and has come out tho her mother(my
sister) as being bi-sexual. We have alsways been very careful
with her and her sister(not gay), not to do or say things that
would imply that beeing straigt is the way you should be and to
emphasize that there is nothing wrong or strange about people
with different lifestyles than the heterosexual norm. For example
we never teased or asked if they had ''boyfriends'' in
kindergarten, and when someone at their school started using the
term ''gay'' as a put-down we countered her usage with pointing out
that there was nothing wrong with being gay and acted like it was
a bizarre thing for her to imply. It seems that she is growing up
with a very good self image and we hope that she will avoid a lot
of the shame people feel about their sexuality if it is different
from the ''norm''.
I think it is much better to talk about it with your son, but you
must be very careful not to imply, in any way, that it would be a
bad thing if he is gay so you might want to think about what you
will say and pepare yourself, because from your post it sounds
like it's something that bothers you(but that you don't want to
admit it- which is a perfectly valid way to feel- and quite
normal). ''Not wanting to bring attention to it'' is just like
saying ''lalala this isn't happening, if I ignore it maybe it will
go away''- and the unspoken message is that it is a bad thing,
kids pick up on those messages. I think the healthiest message is
that some people are gay and some people aren't and it really
doesn't matter either way- confront it and bring attention to it,
bu then don't oever emphasise it's importance. This can be hard
if you havent stared talking aboput sex with your kids yet- but 9
is not to early. The truth is that some kids start experimenting
with theire seuality as early as 12, ad it is better to start the
dialog wth them before they get to that point wether they are gay
You think this is a clear indication he's gay? No way. Did you
not ever play with your little girl friends when you were a kid?
It's simply because we tend to play with our own gender as a
child, so that's what's available. If this neighbor were a girl,
and they kissed each other, people would say ''Oh that's cute''.
Keep that in mind and treat it the same way you would treat it if
you knew he had kissed a girl in the closet.
Might he actually be gay though? Sure, just as much as any other
kid. The issue is not his orientation, but how you feel about
your 7yo kissing other kids, and whether or not you think that
sort of physical affection is okay at his age, and what
boundaries he should have, etc.
I think it's time to have a discussion with your son just as if
he'd kissed a 7 year old girl - about feelings, consent, saying
and accepting ''no,'' and then any values you might have about
romantic feelings and sexual exploration at this age, with an
invitation to come talk to you anytime. *Not* talking about it
can induce embarrassment and shame - what is wrong with calling
attention to it? He may know that he's gay or may be bisexual or
he may just be kissing someone handy. You can save him years of
difficulty by accepting him for whatever he is, while stressing
the importance of physical and emotional safety for him and
whomever he chooses to kiss.
I wanted to respond about your 9 year old. I am a father of two little ones but
once a ten year old boy that started experimenting with friends, boys and girls,
the only trouble it led to came about from parents being told, kids getting
and some friendships eventually waning. The kind of things i did with boys, less
with girls, would have scared adults because of how real and sexual it would have
seemed, but we were innocent and our imagination not yet tainted by any
pornograghic exposure or, as far as i know, any adult mistreatment.
I think your intuition is good. If he decides to, let your son talk to you about
things since no one is getting hurt. That, in the end is the only thing that
think it is normal that kids, before puberty and self conscious discomfort, play
explore and while i could never say anything about your son's ''orientation'' what
is doing now won't be the defining moment of his adult sexuality.
The changes in your boys life makes me think of the 2nd divorce and school change
that came around that age in my life, but the couple of friends that explored
with me had married parents and stable homes. It could be part of the equation,
I think it is the age.
I had crushes on girls throughout this age but they were unreachable, maybe
boyfriends were just closer and less threatening. By fifteen, I was falling in
a girl and my boyhood exploration with boys had ended. Later in my mid twenties, I
had a short adventurous period with men, and it ultimately conctretized my
heterosexuality. I have no guilt about those explorations, nor do i feel gay. I
that my politics were probably affected by my experiences. It comes back around to
this issue of safety and honesty again. If no one is getting hurt, I believe
should have the right to do as pleases them.
Try not to worry yet. His innocence and experience are still one in the same.
I hope this helps
Kids are bursting with emotions. Relax. Everyone loves their
friends. The dark closet part bothers me though. Why are kids
in dark closets? Stuffy airless spaces aren't healthy. Repeat
the no means no & when someone says stop, STOP rules with
everyone and let them love each other.
They are just goofing off.
My first grade daughter, who is pretty cheerful and pleasant, has
a very surly best friend. The other girl is an only whose
parents work a lot, so I'm sure she gets pretty lonely. That
said, she is rude to adults (her own parents included) by talking
back, not answering when spoken to, and sighing dramatically when
asked to do things. Since this school year has started, my
daughter has started picking up on these behaviors and testing
them out at home. I have told her that this is unacceptable, and
that even though other people may behave this way, that is no
reason for her to imitate. I don't want to tell her not to play
with this girl (who I hate to have over because besides the
reasons above, she is mean to my other child), but I'd welcome
any advice on how to make sure this doesn't get out of hand.
Sick of Surly Girl
A few years ago, I would have said to relax and try to be a positive
influence with the girl, but after our experience with a really mean
girl, I have to say: Ease your daughter out of this friendship if you
think the girl will not change.
We had a similar issue in kindegarten with my daughter. My daughter
picked up horrible habits from a very rude, rule-breaking friend. My
daughter is not perfect and she had plenty other nonperfect friends, but
for some reason this was the kid she totally emulated. First we tried
constructive engagement. We figured if our daughter liked this kid so
much, we would be firm but loving with her in our house and hopefully we
could at least get her to behave at our house and maybe even affect her
behavior overall. Well, that didn't work. She was a total Eddy Haskell
who learned to be nice to our faces then we heard her plotting with our
daughter how to break the rules we just explained!
Finally, we leveled with our daughter. We told her that we would punish
her severely for acting like her. And if it kept up, the friend would
never be invited back over to our house and she would not be allowed to
go there. We did this without being cruel or condescending about the
other girl. We said that the family had a different way of handling
things and that it didn't mesh with ours. We also explained to our
daughter that she was trying to act like someone else and we expect her
to be herself and respect the values we hold as a family. After all was
said and done, we ended up moving to another city anyway, so we let the
friendship slide. If we had stayed where we were, we would have
definitely cut off the friendship. No playdates, she could see the kid
at school, period.
This may seem like a minor social issue, but it is important to get your
daughter to be true to herself and not act like an ass just to get
attention. You need to lay this groundwork NOW, way before the preteens
approach Been there and it's awful
Your posting has been bothering me all day, because I have a daughter
who can be rude. I might even be the mother of your daughter's rude
best friend whom you are sick of. My daughter is an only and I work out
of circumstance and necessity. She has many good qualities, including
confidence and independence, and I'm truly sorry you are sick of her
-- mom of a good girl
I take great offense at your description of your daughter's friend being
lonely because she's an only child whose parents work a lot. I have an
only child and work full-time. My daughter is a very happy, optimistic
We will encounter things that we don't like about our children's friends
for the rest of their lives. Perhaps you can take this opportunity to
talk to your child about how people behave differently, setting some
boundaries for playdates at your home, etc. Maybe this girl needs you
and your daughter in her life.
You're not really doing your daughter and her friend any favors by
limiting their contact. But please, do not relate this to the girl
being an only child!
Today while talking about class elections my son quietly
volunteered that he was not very popular and on asking the
reason informed that no one plays with him during recess.My son
has been at this school since kindergarten-granted each year
they redistribute classes so they get different classmates but
they are the same bunch of people.All day the school gives
importance to academic excellence so they cannot talk to each
other except at recess and I learned that there are various
groups-some playing basketball who won't allow him to play
because''You did'nt play with us yesterday'':some play soccor with
7th graders who tell him only two specific students can play
with them-and so he tells me he stays by himself.There are
teachers but they don't care-it is recess.
I don't know how to approach this probelm-I was'nt even aware it
existed-My son is an emotional person who has anger outbursts
once in a while. Should I approach his teachers? Is there any
resource that might be helpful?
a distressed mother
The same thing happened to my son. He was sitting alone at the
lunch table for the entire recess. He was so upset he didn't
want to go to school anymore. Explain the situation to hs
teacher and ask her if there's anything she can do to help. My
son's teacher was kind enough to step in and help guide him.
The first thing she did was have my son and a classmate ''buddy
up'' for the day and the next day she and my son approached a
couple of different groups and asked it my son could join in.
My son now plays with a lot of different children and is happy
at recess. Another idea is to arrange play dates outside of
school. This will give them a chance to bond one-on-one.
Good luck. It broke my heart when my son told me he was lonely
Mom of happy child
I'm so sorry that your son is in this challenging situation and
know how frustrating it can be as a concerned parent. I would
recommend talking with the teachers/administrators immediately
just to assess the situation. ''Not caring because it's recess''
is not an excuse in my book--recess is where most social growth
happens and bullying too and is a vital part of the school day.
The teachers/administrators should be able to give you guidance
about other kids your child could interact with or just monitor
the soccer and basketball for a few days to make sure the ''you
can't play'' doesn't happen so he can join in and get
established Next I would recommend giving your kid some tools
about recess--what are things that he could do that
are ''appropriate'' that would give him social interaction but
not require that he try to break into already established
cliques. (By appropriate, I mean maybe playing chess or some
sort of activity club, but maybe not going inside to the
library to read or some other withdrawing from the playground.)
I have found that bringing playing cards and playing card games
is a good way for my son to engage a few friends. They play
something like the old card game War and something else
called ''BS''--things that 11 year old boys play. Of course,
practice the games at home first so your kid can explain the
rules, etc. In addition, our school has a garden that is
always a good place to go hang out and work with other kids at
recess. Finally, make sure that your kid has a few good friends
outside of school. This has been a lifesaver for my son
because whenever he feels like he has a rough day at school, he
knows that these other 2 kids are out there in the world and
they like him and want to spend time with him. That helps on
Finally, if you have the money, I can recommend that you see a
child psychologist to help you have the tools to help your kid
in these situations. Some of the ideas I've suggested above
have come from a professional I consulted to help me help my
These situations are so difficult, but as your child's biggest
advocate, I think you can make a difference behind the scenes
so he can have a better recess/school experience
Been There--My Son is Happier Now
Our seven year old may benefit from meeting other children who
are passionate about science and/or examining life and the
world around them. He has several friends he has enjoyed and
seems well liked at school, but lately (on his own)he has been
reporting that most kids he knows don't ''think'' like him,
don't ever want to talk about things he is interested in, or
are not fun for him to spend time with. He is beginning to feel
isolated, that he is unusual (in a bad way) and doesn't feel
that he is developing friendships he enjoys. Our goal is to
help him become a well rounded individual (e.g., sports
activities etc.), but most importantly we want him to be happy
and have frienships he enjoys. We are hoping to find clubs,
groups or kids that are kindered spirits. Any ideas out there?
If you were looking for friends for yourself, you'd try classes and
groups in things you were interested in. Same principle in helping your
child. For the ''average'' kid, school provides enough of a world for
friendships; but some kids need a bigger world.
Try afterschool classes at his school (or work with the PTA to bring
some there), science classes at Lawrence Hall of Science, and next
summer ATDP. Then, you can follow-up with playdates (a good time to make
potions or volcanoes in the backyard.) Many studies have shown, it's not
the quantity of friends, it's the quality of the friendships. Most of my
child's strong friendships are with kids she's met in supplemental
classes, or that she knew both at school, and from an activity.
You may want to check your local community center guide. I live in
Concord and our city has several classes for kids, including several
'Mad Scientist' camps and classes. The Lindsay Museum in Walnut Creek
also has some great classes for kids. My son took an awesome Gross
Science class there. Chabot Space and Science Center has classes too.
Some libraries have chess clubs and book clubs for kids. There are
bound to be other kids enrolled in classes like these that have the same
interests your son has. Good luck, and have fun!
How about chess? The Berkeley Chess School has classes, workshops,
camps and tournaments and the kids who participate in them seem
intellectually curious and friendly. CC
My son lacks social skills. He is very bright and does well
academically but does not connect well with other boys or work
well in groups. I have been told that he walks to the beat of a
different drum. Other kids tease him about being overweight and
wearing glasses. He doesn't respond authentically to them but
calls them names like ''pooh-head''. Occassionally, he has not
worn socks and his feet smelled. He plays alone and works
alone, usually. He say he feels like he's ''surrounded by a
circle of hate''. I don't want his self-esteem damaged. He is not
naturally gregarious. Other kids shun him and he is not
popular, but to know my son is to love him (yes, I admit bias).
His teacher (and I) very concerned that he learn social
negotiation skills. What can I do, besides improving his
My heart goes out to you because this behavior does sound
possibly more serious than you may be acknowledging. Could he
have early signs of a mental illness? The hygeine issue,
feeling in a ''circle of hate'', could be related to depression
at the very least, but maybe more. I would have him evaluated
soon, as there may be appropriate treatment that could address
some of his behavior/feelings.
My daughter did a social skills group through Dr. Kathryn
McCarthy at the Berkeley Psychology clinic (649-3399) when she
was 8 and it was very helpful, as well as enjoyable for her. I
believe Dr. McCarthy has similar groups for boys, or you could
try the Ann Martin Center in Piedmont. Good luck!
Your son sounds very much like my son at that age. I'm happy to report that things
got much better when he got older, but it did take some intervention. We found a
''social skills group'' for boys his age that was wonderful. The other boys in the
group were similar to him in varying degrees. The group facilitator worked with
them how to act in social situations through play and roll-playing. I think he felt
comfortable with other kids like himself. I think it really helped to ''practice'' good
social skills. Another thing is I realized that I needed to pay more attention to his
clothes. He was still wearing sweatpants and velcro sneakers, because it didn't
matter to him and I was oblivious. Other kids wore jeans and team jerseys, etc. My
son stuck out like a sore thumb. I took him shopping and had him help me pick out
some more appropriate closthes. Other boys played basketball at recess, but my
son did not know how to shoot baskets. So my husband spent some quality time
with him at the playground on the weekends, just shooting baskets and talking
about things. I think the main thing is to make sure that his self confidence is not
ruined. Find something he is interested in and help him be involved.
The person running the social skill group that my son went to was Jim Beatty. He
had great rapport with the boys. You might also try West Coast Childrens Center for
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