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Intense friendships with Preschoolers


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#1 chelley

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 02:37 PM

It seems I am parenting an 8-9 year old in a 4.5 year old body rolleyes.gif

All of a sudden it is all about 'best friends'. Dinner time is spent with comments such as "x won't be my best friend", or "I am x's best friend" or "I cried at school today and then x cried and then y cried and then Mrs ... told us all crying to go and wash our faces" wink.gif

I know my daughter is not the only one at preschool who is living out Days of Our Lives. There are a few of them - 3 primarily of which my daughter is 1, who are sassy enough I imagine they could run the joint.

Numerous afternoons are spent in tears at preschool pick up time because she wasn't invited to a play date. Playdates have been all the trend lately it seems. She has had about 3. Some of the other kids I know are having playdates and others I know the mums work and they share the drop off and pick up between a few families.

Raya has one very intense friendship - equally intense on the part of the other child, with another girl. I posted about this girls mum previously following a playdate we had at our house. Even the teachers at the preschool have commented how smitten they are with each other. Thankfully this little girl won't be old enough for school next year.

It was bring a buddy to ballet today and this other girl was coming. Her mum had borrowed a tutu from us and it was all organised.

This morning right when we were leaving this other 4 year old rings up on my mobile and asks to speak to Raya. I thought it was going to be a "I am so excited see you soon conversation". I handed the phone to Raya and then just watched as she started shaking followed by howling and sobbing.

The other friend had told her she didn't want to come to ballet anymore.

I don't know the reason why and the mum seemed to think it had been 'funny' for her daughter to ring and give the news. dry.gif

Poor Raya was inconsolable. Now I understand disappointment is part of life but she was SO upset. It struck me as being unhealthy. My immediate reaction was 'we need to minimise this friendship because she is not capable of managing the intensity of her reactions".

I have NEVER seen her react like this. This was at 8.30am this morning and as of 3pm this afternoon there were still tears and "but why mummy".

Now we have progressed to "I am worried that she isn't going to be my best friend at school tomorrow". Heaven help me.

I am a teacher and this kind of behaviour is normal in 8 year old girls but 4 seems way too early to me. One of the other girls at school - who is part of this 3 - introduced the concept of being 'fat' mad.gif to the girls so I am suspecting the "your not my best friend' line also came from her and they have adopted it.

We have done all the talking about being friends but it just doesn't seem to be enough. It is so hard to see them heartbroken. Raya just kept bursting into tears today saying "I am disappointed mummy" and we consider her a fairly resilient child.

Has anyone else had any experience with these intense friendships at a young age?

I am a bit thrown by it but my gut says less time together and try to foster other friendships.

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#2 Mel B

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 04:10 PM

Wow that does seem very intense for the age group.

Rosie went through a few struggles at the beginning of preschool but that was more to do with breaking into a friendship group.

Firstly, 3 is a bad number because someone is always being pickedon or left out. She did eventually become part of the group which made it a group of 4 - much better number than 3!!!

I did find it frustrating when mums either refused to see the bad behaviour of their children or else acted like they were powerless to stop it. It's a parent's job to step up and guide them on how to treat their friends.

I think this other mum has been very off by just letting her child blow Raya off like that. If it was my child and they changed their mind I would tell them they had accepted and that it would be rude and unkind to pull out now.

However sadly there will always be mean kids and clueless parents. So I just try to focus on things I can control:

- my child's behaviour. I take every opportunity to talk about treating people well. I listen out for small things and gently ask a few questions to get a handle on how friendships are playing out. Rosie's school friends are all about best friends at the moment so I talk about my friends and how I do different things with different people and I like all of them. I also tell her to keep an eye out for people who are on their own in the playground and invite them into her games. When a little girl joined their class halfway through the year who didn't speak English we talked about what games they could play like hopscotch where there wasn't too much talking so the new girl could participate.

- strategies to cope when people are unkind. At preschool one little madam decided she didn't want to be friends with Rosie any more and when Rosie would ask why, she'd say "because I don't like you any more". I told R to stop asking her why and giving her the chance to be mean. Within a week this little girl decided she did want to be friends after all wink.gif

- the circumstances that are within my control. I encourage her to invite a range of friends over but we only do a few playdates per term. They spend all day together, I think it's nice to spend some time apart! R sees two of the girls that she went to preschool with but after several playdates when she came home crying because two of them had ganged up on her, now I just refuse all playdates unless there are either 2 or 4 of them.

Sorry for the essay, I hope this helps a bit. Good luck, girls can be very tricky!
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#3 aChocLover

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 04:51 PM

QUOTE(chelley @ Nov 13 2012, 02:37 PM) View Post


This morning right when we were leaving this other 4 year old rings up on my mobile and asks to speak to Raya. I thought it was going to be a "I am so excited see you soon conversation". I handed the phone to Raya and then just watched as she started shaking followed by howling and sobbing.



OMG ... I am appalled that Raya had to hear it like this, and appalled that the other child was also put in the predicament of having to break the news to Raya. What I find most confusing is the double standard she's now applying - re Raya lending the doll and 'learning her lesson' for offering it up, yet her DD can change her mind?

In my experience, this is not normal! (ETA: just to clarify, I'm talking the extremity of this behaviour is not normal but yes, the exclusive friendships developing do seem to occur which I also see as an adult, so that side of it, seems normal human nature) DD1 is nearly 8 (grade 3 next yr) and we've experienced this exclusive friendship with one child in Prep (so age 4-6) which turned absolutely horrific. DD2 doesn't seem to have these issues - i'm not sure if that's related to personality or the particular classmates she has (although there are some exclusive friendships in her class).

QUOTE


My immediate reaction was 'we need to minimise this friendship because she is not capable of managing the intensity of her reactions".



Re DD1s experience - one day she was the friend, next day she wasn't. It got to the point where DD1 was getting ill about going to school because she didn't know if she was in or out. I had to ask the teacher to intervene and manipulate the friendships a bit (separate on the mat, different work groups etc). We talked a lot about how many wonderful people are in the class and that she could have lots of friends. Even in Yr 2 now, DD1's teacher talks to them about the importance of making new friends.

The strategies MelB talks of, I agree with. I think all we can really do is help our child navigate their way around these behaviours, build confidence and resilience etc, and encourage new friendships.

Poor darling Raya, this school stuff can be tough x

#4 em2007

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 05:40 PM

The whole "you're not my best friend", "You're not coming to my party" thing is pretty common in 4 year old kinder from what I've seen and heard. I've seen it in Preps and grade 1s as well.

However, the intensity of it, the added comments about 'fat' AND mostly this other mums approach to it all (letting her daughter call to deliver that news, the approach over the lending of the doll etc) would be leading me to try to downplay this friendship and encourage other friendships.

I think MelB has given you some very good advice on how to approach it.

#5 stars87

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 06:47 PM

I agree with the others on this. The 'best friend' thing has been a huge issue at my daughter's childcare (3-5 year olds) and they have been working on it. It hasn't surfaced at preschool yet but I am sure it is only a matter of time.

But while that may be normal, the intensity as you have described it would worry me, as would the weird things the friend's mum has been doing. I like Mel B's tips too. Good luck it certainly doesn't sound like an easy situation!
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#6 chelley

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Posted 13 November 2012 - 07:04 PM

Thanks for the wonderful suggestions and the tips girls. It has surprised me that it has been happening in this age group but from the above comments it obviously kicks in to a degree in the prep age.

Will be interesting to see what another day at preschool brings
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#7 ZooBird

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 08:46 AM

The more I hear about this mother and child and they way they have spoken and behaved lately the angrier I feel for Ray.

The mother sounds like a moron, one set of rules for her kids and one for another. She obviously wasnt interesting in teaching her daughter any lessons about honouring your word or going back on an agreement. 4 year olds change their minds all the time, I would have made her go anyway, she had already agreed to go. How many times do we hear our kids say they dont want to do something and then when they get there they are having so much fun they dont want to leave?!

It seems in my experience that little girls are always more "clicky" than little boys. Sienna went through a similar experience last year with a group of her kindy friends who all decided that they didnt want to be her friend anymore as her super long hair had been cut short! I remember taking her up to school for an excursion and these little girls saying they didnt want to sit with her on the bus cause her hair was "ugly". The other mothers of these kids all stood there and listened to their kids be horrible while my poor daughter was in tears, frustrated the crap out of me and took all i had not to strangle the mothers and their rude kids!

I think a wider group of friends is a better idea, and perhaps keep some distance between these 2 for now
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#8 *Lib**

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Posted 14 November 2012 - 10:27 AM

I'd be tempted to tell Raya that ****'s mummy isn't very nice and we're not going to be friends with them anymore. She sounds like a right bitch.
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#9 Porthos

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Posted 18 November 2012 - 11:13 AM

QUOTE(chelley @ Nov 13 2012, 03:37 PM) View Post

I don't know the reason why and the mum seemed to think it had been 'funny' for her daughter to ring and give the news. dry.gif


That is DISGUSTING. Is that mother just trying to stir up trouble? Or is she so pathetic she couldn't face telling you herself? Ridiculous.

I would never let Cate pull out of a playdate that late. If she has committed to something, she's going, that's that.


QUOTE(Mel B @ Nov 13 2012, 05:10 PM) View Post

I did find it frustrating when mums either refused to see the bad behaviour of their children or else acted like they were powerless to stop it. It's a parent's job to step up and guide them on how to treat their friends.


Well said Mel and so true.

Chelley, Cate has an 'intense' friendship too. It's with another little girl from Mother's Group, the girls have literally grown up together. They call each other 'besties' but they are, quite frankly, horrible to each other. They have done 3 y.o kinder together this year and I must admit, I will not be upset if the girls are in different groups next year, I think they need a break from one another. I am sick of the silly fights and the hysterics when Cate's bestie doesn't do exactly as Cate would like. I am also growing a bit sick of this little girl pushing Cate's buttons on the sly and then enjoying it when Cate gets a telling off from her mother (I have only recently clued into this...took me a while to see past my own child's brattiness and notice she wasn't the lone ranger in the bratty stakes wink.gif ).

Sometimes I seriously worry that if girls are this intense NOW, how are they going to be at 15???!!!

Good luck with your situation. I hope Raya "gets over" this little girl who is bratty enough to pull out of special play dates. Neither you nor Raya need the stress!!





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