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how to get my 5 y.o to make better friend choices?

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#1 Miss Chatterbox

Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:20 PM

sad.gif Does anyone have any advice on how to teach my 5 y.o how to make better choices with friends? She is in a class with a very powerful and dominant child who everyone is drawn to. this child seems to be able to do as she pleases at school with no consequences, this including physical violence towards other children including my own, wandering around the room and distracting others from their learning, emotionally bullying children and many other things.  We have spoken to our child about not playing with this child, but for some reason she and all of the other kids are drawn to her and go along with her.  Yesterday my child followed her and ended up in an out of bounds area at school, where through a total accident another child was hurt and even needed medical attention as a result of my child following this other kid and them both hurting someone else.  Coincidentally now the school acts and puts a consequence in play and makes a big deal out of it.  I am not excusing my child's actions, but am at a loss as to how to empower her not to follow this child?  Any suggestions would be helpful.  I just worry where our child is going to end up in 10 years time, making bad choices with friends.

#2 BadCat

Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:29 PM

With school nearly done for the year there is probably not much worth doing right now.  But are there kids who your child gets along with that you could arrange playdates with over the christmas break?  If you can help her to build a little friendship group before school starts again next year she will probably be less inclined to join in with Miss Dominant.

#3 DrFeral

Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:38 PM

You could always hope that this incident changes the way way your DD sees this domineering child.  I remember as a child reading alot of Aesop's fables- this one links quite nicely to the moral that "you are judged by the company you keep".  You can point this out to her but unfortately these are lessons she will have to learn on her own.  If you try to push friends away it can often have the opposite effect.  

As she gets older and wiser she will eventually gain the confidence to be her own person and not follow the crowd.  I can see that in my DS who is almost 8- he is just now starting to avoid other kids who are doing stuff he doesn't want to do instead of following along to try and be accepted.

#4 Peggybrown

Posted 29 November 2012 - 12:56 PM

Oh dear OP, its sounds awful and I can sympathise. My 5yo daughters in kinder have been caught up in a very similar situation this year. The child they are dealing with is manipulative in the extreme, violent and very dishonest and sneaky. My natural inclination is to like kids (I am a teacher and genuinely enjoy kids company and have several of my own) but the child we have been dealing with is extremely sophisticated in her manipulation. I don't know of anyone in our very large kinder group that likes this child, mostly we just struggle to feel sad for her. This child has got away with it all year as the teacher has refused to acknowledge it for what it is - which has been rampant bullying. Or the teacher has used the excuse that she hasn't seen/heard it happen so she can't do anything about it.

All I can suggest is start recording what happens as often as you can - especially any physical incidents. And start kicking up an almighty fuss at the school. Have meetings with the teacher, vice principal, and principal (even threaten to call in the department of education - check out which regional office of the department your school falls under and just drop that you have found this out in conversation with the school - they will poop themselves if they have any sense) and demand that a plan is put in place to help your child move away from the situation she is in. Also demand that she is put in a different class next year.

I trusted our very experienced and otherwise great teacher all year when she assured me that she was managing the situation in their class. The fact is she wasn't. She was protecting the perpetrator (whom she feels sorry for and is loyal to) and was blaming the victims. We got some advise from a child psychologist which helped one of my girls remove herself from the situation a bit, which has been great but this child still pursues her. Our other dd has become truly stuck in the situation - it has amazing similarities to an adult in a terrible abusive relationship that just can't get away. My poor dd also thinks she need to continue being friends with this child so it is protecting other kids from being hit and abused! I wish with all my heart I had stuck to my guns earlier in the year and demanded action be taken earlier - but I trusted the teacher and didn't want to be the one to 'rock the boat'... boy was that a mistake.

If the school refuses to co-operate in helping your child and dealing with the troublesome one (and if you have no older children it would also effect) I would seriously look at changing her school. Your dd is 5yo, yes? that means she has roughly another six years in primary school with this other child? If you really have concerns about the impact of this situation on your dd move her now while she is still very young and can build healthy new friendships and settle into a new school quickly.
I know this sounds an alarmist or OTT response but your DD is so little and our experience this year has taught has these situations can have a terrible impact.

#5 Team Awesome

Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:01 PM

DD1 has had no real friends this year due to such a child as she won't toe the line though no physical bullying only emotional bullying exclusion type stuff which isn't really a part of the school's bullying code which is much better than the previous school we were a part of a few years back and of course teachers just say go play with someone else. Whenever teh bullying child chooses to leave someone out for the day/play time DD1 plays with them. she had several lovely days recently when they bullying child was away and got to play with several children.

I recently came across the book "little girls can be mean" I haven't gotten very far as DD3 has gotten very clingy of a night time and wants to be hugged all day long but I can see it'll be helpful from what I have read.

Good luck.

#6 Leggy

Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:09 PM

Whenever teh bullying child chooses to leave someone out for the day/play time DD1 plays with them.

Yeah, we had this problem when I was at school. Whenever someone from the queen bee's group fell out of favour, she'd come join our little circle for a while. Eventually it ended up eroding her power, so she at least couldn't get others to help her in bullying anyone in our group. In our case though, there were a few of us in the "not-under-her-spell" group.

I second the suggestion to help DD build up other friendships over the holidays, and try to get her in a different class next year. Eek. Hope it works out okay!

#7 Leggy

Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:11 PM

You need to teach your dd how to say "no"; that it's ok to say "no" to friends.

Oh, this too, definitely. We've had to teach ours that she can refuse to do something her cousin wants, especially since said cousin has started using her as a guinea pig for exploits that might be dangerous :S

#8 boatiebabe

Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:20 PM

I think really you just need to keep the lines of communication open with your DD. Talk to her about making good choices etc.

My DD was one of the youngest in her kindy class and there were a couple of very domineering girls in that year. There was always some drama or other going on with one or all of these girls - not necessarily with DD but a lot of other girls too.

It was an up and down kind of Kindy year and Year 1 with some of these girls, but I always kept encouraging her to seek out the friendship of the girls who were 'nice' and didn't buy into the mean girls games.

I didn't encourage after school play dates with the meanies but did with the nicer girls.

When there were any incidences of bullying etc with DD either at school or out of school activities I let the teachers/instructors know about it. I wasn't pushy but I did expect it to be dealt with.

DD is now in Year 3 and life is pretty cruisy at school for her. She has figured out that she doesn't want the drama of hanging around with certain girls (even if they are prentending to be 'nice' that week) because she has been burned in the past.

Pretty much everyone (including the teachers) have figured out who the trouble makers are, so they don't get away with much.

We also have a bully (boy) who tries to terrorise our street, so we have had quite a bit of experience in dealing with bullies unfortunately.

#9 Dylan's Mummy

Posted 29 November 2012 - 01:26 PM

We had this problem with my SS. There was a boy in his prep class who was "naughty" and my SS and a few other boys looked up to him and got into trouble with him.  He also started doing things of his own accord too, possibly because he though it would make him popular r the centre of attention. There were certain kids who weren't allowed to play with each other and certain kids who weren't allowed to be in the same class together.

This year, half way through grade 4 we moved him to a new school because he was getting into too much trouble. We have had no problems at all sine changing school, he doesn't get into trouble and his learning has improved. I wish we would have done it sooner.

I would only reccomend changing schools as a last resort.

What is the school doing about this child? Have you spoken to them about it?

#10 luke's mummu

Posted 29 November 2012 - 09:40 PM

Can you ask for her to be placed into a different class next year to this child?

#11 JJ

Posted 01 December 2012 - 09:02 AM

I think people like the girl you describe are very good at manipulating others - so don't be too worried about your DD making bad choices - I think it's quite possible that she has been manipulated to the extreme, maybe even blackmailed. I agree with PPs who said she needs to learn how to say no and protect herself, but in this case she may not have made a choice of her own free will, if you know what I mean.

The other thing I think is that kids need to make bad choices sometimes and learn from them in order to be able to make better choices down the track. If you think about it, we've all made bad choices in our lives and hung out with people who were a bad influence. But I'd like to think we've learnt from our mistakes and are in a position to make better choices as a result.

I do understand your worry though. My DD was friends with a girl like this and it sounds a lot like the situation Peggybrown described. It was terrible and just like in Peggybrown's situation, the school did nothing, protected the bully, blamed the victims, pretended not to know anything about it even though several parents had made several complaints, etc. My DD got involved with this girl because the girl had no one else and my DD is a natural "social worker" type - always looking out for people in need... and yeah, unfortunately it backfired big time, and the girl thought she owned DD and wouldn't leave her alone for even a moment.

The child was a master manipulator, very sneaky and would lie to your face without batting an eyelid. If she got called out on her behaviour, such as saying terrible things to/about people she didn't like (which happened several times as she would do it right in front of us parents), she would say she was just kidding, and expect to get away with it. Obviously she had issues, without a doubt, but that's what the school kept using as an excuse - she's from a difficult background, blah blah blah, so just deal with it. I still get angry when I think about it - it was disgusting. I pulled DD out of the school at the end of last term for a whole number of reasons, but this situation played quite a large part. Sure I could have requested that they be put in different classes next year (which is something you should do IMO), but being a small-ish school, they would still have had plenty of contact.

My DD is still traumatised, but she has learnt a lot about choices. Basically the best I could do was to talk to her all the time, take her seriously, keep telling her what I would do, but ultimately she had to make her own choices.

And as for dealing with the school side of things - as I was actually told by one of the head teachers, if you want justice for your child, you really do have to make a fuss. It would seem that some schools as a whole aren't very good at dealing with this kind of thing. In our case, they didn't really start paying attention until I got very, very angry one morning and threatened to pull DD out on the spot if nothing was done. Similarly, a friend whose daughter was also bullied by this child had to get very firm with them and demand that her daughter be protected, or else. Sadly the "let's just have a sensible conversation about this" approach didn't work. Sometimes you really have to make a lot of noise before anything gets done.

Sorry about the essay. Wishing you the best of luck with your situation. x

Edited by JJ, 01 December 2012 - 09:05 AM.

#12 Soontobegran

Posted 01 December 2012 - 09:22 AM

Unfortunately this is something that just happens and has happened for a long as my memory serves me.
There is almost always a dominant child in a classroom, one who seems to manipulate their surroundings by ensuring they 'allow' only certain children into their circle and these children are usually those whom they know will not take away the power from them.

At first when I saw this happen I was furious with these children but then I realised that they probably had their own set of problems that meant this was the way they behaved.

The trick is to empower your own child and I did this by encouraging my children to have play dates with other likeminded children who were also often being dominated by this friend.
They do break away eventually, sometimes you have to enlist the help of the teacher and be sure that the teacher will be well aware of the situation and is already attempting to rectify it.

Aside from that I think our children have to find their own way somewhat when it comes to making friends. There will be times that we wonder what the attraction is but unless it is toxic then I left it to run it's course and as they become older and more mature children tend to be drawn to those of similar interests and personalities and thats when they make really good friends.

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