Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Friendship (and associated issues)

Friendship is not something I'm good at. I don't remember being one of those kids who met another in the sandpit and played together, becoming best friends in the process. Maybe I was and I just don't remember. As an adult I can't say that I'm overly friendly. I have friends. Not squillions, but quite a few. But like everyone else in the world sometimes friendships fall apart or drift off slowly into the sunset.

I have a friendship that appears to have gone that way. We had been close while I was on the school P&C, while my mum was sick and the aftermath of that. Girl Child was in a different class to my friends youngest last year and that coupled with me stepping back from volunteering on the committee appears to have been the beginning of the end. I noticed last year that things were different but put that down to my headache. But when I thought about it things had changed by then. When I first went to the Dr, I was not asked what had gone on, how I was feeling, or anything. I was disappointed at the time. There also never seemed to be any time to catch up last year. I know people are busy and that line was used often.

I thought perhaps it was something I had done or not done. I still don't know but it seems that the friendship has just fizzled out. I discovered last week that my friend has now gone back to full time work. I didn't know but apparently it was common knowledge. I'm guessing that I'm no longer someone that gets included in conversations any more. And that's okay. I still would like to know what happened but I'm probably never going to find out. If friendship is still like this as an adult then how are children supposed to deal with it?

Girl Child has been having lots of issues with friends and friendships. It started last year and has continued. She has never been one of the popular kids and however, the issues are getting bigger leading to Girl Child lashing out on two occasions. Girl Child wants to play with A but Z also wants to play with A but Girl Child and Z clash and always have. The drama has even moved on to an on line game that these kids play with Girl being told to back off from A because Z wants to play with her.

She has been reprimanded at school for lashing out and has apologised to the children. At home we have reiterated that this behaviour is not appropriate. We have talked to the school and I have apologised to the parents of the other children. Girl Child wants to have friends. She wants to play with other children but her strong will and stubbornness can make it hard for her to step back. She really doesn't like being told what to do but she does that to others and she seems unable to see that. She is 8 and in Year 3 which seems to be the year that girls have issues with friends. But if she keeps lashing out then no one will want to play with her.

While I'm struggling with my child lashing out, I did find it very interesting that on one of these occasions someone had approached Girl Child to play with them but then she and her new friends refuse to play or even talk to Girl Child. The school is aware that Girl Child is reacting due to frustration. I would think that being invited to play and then ignored would increase my frustration level. But school didn't deal with that issue, they just talked to Girl Child and the other two with the ongoing issue since last year.

It seems that schools often catch the last person and don't always acknowledge that there was a series of events that led up to the incident. As a parent I know that I need to hear both sides of the story but schools don't seem to have the time.

So she feels that they are ignoring her concerns and says things like "they never listen to me" and "they never believe me." I know that doesn't help her.

How do I help build Girl Childs resilience and tolerance around friendship issues when sometimes I don't understand the dynamics of friendship myself? Was childhood friendship always this complicated for children or is this just a precocious bunch?

I will be organizing some play dates to see if that helps. I need to psych myself up though as I'm not comfortable with people in my space.

Any other ideas? Anyone else been in this situation? Are girls really so much more difficult than boys?


Marita said...

Wow your post mimics almost exactly what is happening with my 8yo daughter who is in grade 3 this year.

She is so desperately lonely at the moment and doesn't understand that others don't like being told how to play. Although she herself hates to be told what to do.

We had a meeting with her teacher and the school principal and the yard duty teachers are keeping a log of her playground interactions for the next two weeks so we can get a real idea of who she is playing with. Benefits of a small school with only 140 kids.

From there we are going on to invite the children she plays with regularly over for playdates.

Maxabella said...

I am also at a loss to explain the dynamics of friendship, for that would require understanding human nature and I don't know why people do the things they do! I'm sorry your daughter is struggling to find her tribe. I do think we all have times in our life when we are overwhelmed by how to fit in.

My only advice would be to help her learn alternative ways to deal with frustration and to let her know that EVERYONE has times in their life when they feel the same way. Emphasise that she has lots of people who love her and want to be with her.

At our school we have felt that there is way too much emphasis on 'anti-bullying' and not enough on 'how to be a goof friend'. Perhaps your school is similar?

I wish her friendship and understanding. x

Leanne said...

You and I do well over a cuppa. Perhaps the girls need to get outside their normal play zone and spend time away from same-old-same-old. Maybe take them for a "cuppa" (hot chocolate) and sit at a nearby table. Let them bond over a hot beverage.

I dunno ...

E. said...

Hey Marita,  I'm sorry that you are in the same place as us.  It really sucks.  Hopefully things will pick up for all of us (especially for our girls).

Maxabella, thanks for your wise words.  I discovered today that our school is a Kids Matter school so will be following up on that.

Leanne - Yes, we do! I think that would be a great idea.

Things have settled down now.  I'm not sure she is playing with anyone but there have been no issues either. I have set up a play date for during the holidays so I'm hoping that might help too.

kimmyj said...

It really sounds like I have the same Girl Child as you!

Mine has just got into trouble at school for lashing out at another girl - unfortunately the same one she lashed out at twice last year and again the year before(the last time being August).

I apologised to the parents about it as I don't raise my child to hit others. The school has been wonderful about it. They have accepted it is in retaliation and frustration - she isn't instigating the behaviour - but they also think she is old enough to walk away. Trouble is sometimes she she reaches the tipping point where it is too late to walk away and the instinct takes over.

She has walked away so many times - I am sure yours has too, but is always remembered for those times where she has gone past the tipping point and made a bad choice.

I think we have all taken our eyes off the ball as we haven't seen an incident for 10 months!

Time to move back into pro-active management mode!!

What we did:
Playdates with girls we felt would be a good fit based on teacher feedback - aim to try and expand her social circle so she has more choice of who to play with.
When the yard duty teacher changes over at lunchtime - ask if she wants to come inside and read a book for half of lunch time - sometimes recharging away from all the noise and having some quiet time is just whats needed.
Monitoring interactions with the girl involved (actually found that they were inseperable 90% of the time and had an equal friendship).

Hopefully it's all sorted for you for the moment - I found a few weeks before end of term is the explosive week where they could actually do with a few lunchtimes indoors recharging away from other kids.

I also found (and be wary of this) that some of the teachers reporting that other kids would try and wind mine up on purpose to get a reaction and so she would get into trouble. They were quick to stamp out those incidents they saw - but that is likely only 10% of what actually happens!!

Good luck!!


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