Friends mean so much to young kids. As they go from grade to grade they face so many emotional challenges as they try to create lasting friendships.
My daughter started off 5th grade doing okay, with 2 close friends. But just this past February, they approached her on the playground and told her that they didn’t want to be friends any more. My daughter was quite shocked, as one of the girls (I’ll call her Jessica) accused my daughter of saying something bad about the other girl (for the purposes of this blog post, Lauren) on the phone. My daughter felt completely betrayed. She remembers talking with the “Jessica” about “Lauren,” but she said they were both agreeing that Lauren was really annoying.
I don’t think my daughter had any idea that this would come back to haunt her. So in 5th grade she is experiencing betrayal. My daughter cried most of the afternoon at school and got off the bus an emotional wreck.
Of course I comforted her and we talked until I understood the situation as best I could. It seemed to me that the main problem was that it was a group of 3 girls. Last year there was another girl in their circle who moved away, so their group of 4 became 3. I have always thought that 3 friends together can cause major conflict. I honestly think that one of the girls wanted my daughter’s closer friend to be her best friend and has manipulated the situation to kick my daughter out of the group. I seriously remember this happening when I was in middle school many times. I guess they start this earlier now!!
After that day three weeks ago, my daughter has been sitting with different people at lunch and playing either alone or with some other kids at recess, not knowing if she can approach these other friends. The one girl seems to be glaring at my daughter and making her very uncomfortable. I have been talking to my daughter every day about what is going on with this situation. I have been trying to give her the courage to approach some other girls or boys and make more friends. Even as I give her advice, I always stress that it is her decision what she should do. I also thought asking them to talk about the situation would be helpful and that maybe they could resolve their differences. I offered to call the guidance counselor, but my daughter was against that too.
The other thing is that I have been very hospitable to these girls. I have had their parents over and the children over even more frequently. So to be honest, I was personally feeling a bit perturbed. I thought, “How they dare treat my child this way after all that I have done for them!!” The 3 of them had even formed a little band and practiced in my dining room. They have come over numerous times playing dress-up. I have fed them countless times, too. But I know this is not about me. I really wasn’t doing this to help my daughter keep her friends…I was just being nice and letting them have some time away from school to have fun. Even though I do feel upset, I definitely will not treat these girls differently when I see them around the school. I will speak to them kindly as always. I know they are young and immature and just trying to make decisions on their own.
I have always stressed that my daughter needs to be true to herself and she needs to love herself first. If you love yourself, you have the confidence that draws friends to you. She knows that it takes work to build a friendship and that you need to get to know someone before you can trust them. I have also stressed that you have to like how you feel around other people and you also have to share some common interests. She has been exploring other acquaintances and I enjoy what she has to say. She told me about one girl that she simply could not get along with because all they did was argue. She told me that a lot of the girls are boy crazy already and my daughter says she is just bored by all of that talk. Some girls aren’t very interesting to her. I’m proud of her for getting out there and trying to get to know some people. Some days she just runs and plays alone at recess. I think it is great that she has the confidence to do that. Her exuberance for life will take her far!