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Preschool of Hard Knocks? What to do about mean kids? - Page 2

post #21 of 61
Thread Starter 
I asked dd if she wanted to have some of the kids from school over to play. She said yes and asked for 3 of the girls that do the excluding. I had not yet made overtures. Then, at school, during one of these episodes with the girl saying, "lets stop listening to her" dd had told them that they could come over to our house and they apparently rejected the idea. I don't want to invite them over, honestly. That seems to me like we are inviting/rewarding bad behavior and bringing it into our house/lives even more. I don't want her to get comfortable capitulating to people who don't honor and respect her...if that makes any sense.

I'm more willing to invite some of the other kids who aren't the offenders--and there are a couple that are on the same level verbally who dd is also interested in playing with. We'll probably do that--but we do have a lot of playdate opportunities outside of school.

I did talk to the director. She's the one who said, if she "never hears that again, it will be too soon." (We aren't playing with you.) But, sort of shrugged like, that's just the way kids are. She coached me to give dd some things to say to the kids and basically said, if your child doesn't stand up for herself, she will be a target and better to learn how to deal with it now--since school going forward is "survival of the fittest." Yes, she said "survival of the fittest."

Don't get me wrong. The the teachers are great, amazing, kind people, even. Its just that there's a culture already going, and a LOT of kids 25-28 running around in a free play situation where they just don't see/hear everything. And, especially the quiet-type meanness.
post #22 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by eko_mom View Post
I asked dd if she wanted to have some of the kids from school over to play. She said yes and asked for 3 of the girls that do the excluding. I had not yet made overtures. Then, at school, during one of these episodes with the girl saying, "lets stop listening to her" dd had told them that they could come over to our house and they apparently rejected the idea. I don't want to invite them over, honestly. That seems to me like we are inviting/rewarding bad behavior and bringing it into our house/lives even more. I don't want her to get comfortable capitulating to people who don't honor and respect her...if that makes any sense.

I'm more willing to invite some of the other kids who aren't the offenders--and there are a couple that are on the same level verbally who dd is also interested in playing with. We'll probably do that--but we do have a lot of playdate opportunities outside of school.
(bold mine)

This sounds like the popular girls/wanna bees type situation that I wouldn't expect till around 4th grade.
post #23 of 61
first time parenting honestly doesn't require a lack of confidence.

you know yourself. you know your daughter. you know more about yourself, your daughter, and your family than anyone else. forget books, forget experts, forget parents of 10 kids and 97 foster children. THEY don't know about you, your daughter, or your family.

begin this mantra for yourself "I know what is right and best for me, my child, and my family."

that's it. lack-of-confidence begone!

i am a first time parent and a tenacious PITA. i absolutely, positively know what it is best for myself, my son, and my family. anyone who says otherwise can kiss my. . . .

anyway, whatever you decide to do will be what is right for you, your daughter, and her family.

i really like what eepster wrote too.
post #24 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by eko_mom View Post
I asked dd if she wanted to have some of the kids from school over to play. She said yes and asked for 3 of the girls that do the excluding. I had not yet made overtures. Then, at school, during one of these episodes with the girl saying, "lets stop listening to her" dd had told them that they could come over to our house and they apparently rejected the idea. I don't want to invite them over, honestly. That seems to me like we are inviting/rewarding bad behavior and bringing it into our house/lives even more. I don't want her to get comfortable capitulating to people who don't honor and respect her...if that makes any sense.

I'm more willing to invite some of the other kids who aren't the offenders--and there are a couple that are on the same level verbally who dd is also interested in playing with. We'll probably do that--but we do have a lot of playdate opportunities outside of school.
I did talk to the director. She's the one who said, if she "never hears that again, it will be too soon." (We aren't playing with you.) But, sort of shrugged like, that's just the way kids are. She coached me to give dd some things to say to the kids and basically said, if your child doesn't stand up for herself, she will be a target and better to learn how to deal with it now--since school going forward is "survival of the fittest." Yes, she said "survival of the fittest."

Don't get me wrong. The the teachers are great, amazing, kind people, even. Its just that there's a culture already going, and a LOT of kids 25-28 running around in a free play situation where they just don't see/hear everything. And, especially the quiet-type meanness.
Yeah, DD kept saying that she wanted to play with "Kate", the offender in our case. While I never said anything bad about the other child, I did encourage her to play with others. And with the teachers' help, she now does engage more with other girls in her class. Though you have play date opportunities out of school, it is worthwhile to cultivate school related friendships for your DD as well.
post #25 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
(bold mine)

This sounds like the popular girls/wanna bees type situation that I wouldn't expect till around 4th grade.
Apparently if the teachers think it starts right away it does. :
post #26 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
Apparently if the teachers think it starts right away it does. :
But this particular dynamic isn't being set up by the teacher.

The OP's DD is requesting the very girls who are rejecting her. There are other children in the class; ones the OP feels have more in common with her DD than the girls who do not wish to play with the OP's DD. The OP's DD has decided that the girls who do not wish to play with her are the more appealing ones to play with. The desire to play with these girls is what makes them popular.

If the OP's DD continues to constantly pursue friendships with the girls who reject her, then they are going to escalate the rejection and become "meaner" and "meaner." This will undoubtedly start to cause esteem issues and such for the OP's DD.

However, if the OP can steer her DD to stop playing the wanna bee role, then the popular girl mystique falls away. If she gets past wanting to be friends with the girls who reject her, she can pursue real friendships with the other children.
post #27 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
But this particular dynamic isn't being set up by the teacher.
But I can't help but feel that it'd be over already with a teacher who didn't think it was normal. Even if it were age-appropriate behavior they still would need to be told it wasn't cool. E.g. Kitty's suggestions above.
post #28 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
But I can't help but feel that it'd be over already with a teacher who didn't think it was normal. Even if it were age-appropriate behavior they still would need to be told it wasn't cool. E.g. Kitty's suggestions above.
I can definitely see ways that the teacher should be working to steer students away from this. Of course it would be much simpler for the teacher to gently steer the students into a better dynamic than for the OP, since the teacher is in school and the OP is not. I just don't think the teachers started the dynamic (though it is kind of odd to have started spontaniously in such a young group.)
post #29 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by kittykat2481 View Post
I would just say what I would say to my own child. "Oh, let's use our manners, please. It's ok if you want to play alone, but please say, 'We want to play alone right now.' (And then to your dd) They're playing a game already. You may color here too if you want, or you can go play xyz and maybe they'll join you later." Or something to that affect. I would just try to model polite ways for the children to handle the situation, and remind the mean girls (nicely) to use their manners. I wish there was more you could do. Of course, if the teacher was doing this all day, you might not have this issue.
I would nudge my child harder than this. This response isn't sufficient because it ignores the fact that no child deserves to be isolated, without a playmate. An isolated child isn't going to feel better if someone rejected her in a well-mannered way. She still won't have any friends to play with. I think it's okay for kids to gravitate toward particular kids and form friendships but I wouldn't just let a kid be left out because nobody picked her to be a friend. In such situations, I think it's okay to be insistent that somebody play with her. I know that my DD is a very flexible, laidback person who would open up her play to a new person if I told her that it was important. Some kids might be so stubborn and intense in their behavior that an adult wouldn't be able to tell them who to play with without a major conflict. Anyway, if I were the teacher in the OP's situation, I would work on finding easygoing kids to pair the girl up with rather than tell the "mean" kids to be nice when they issue their rejections.
post #30 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mandymichel View Post
I would nudge my child harder than this. This response isn't sufficient because it ignores the fact that no child deserves to be isolated, without a playmate. An isolated child isn't going to feel better if someone rejected her in a well-mannered way. She still won't have any friends to play with. I think it's okay for kids to gravitate toward particular kids and form friendships but I wouldn't just let a kid be left out because nobody picked her to be a friend. In such situations, I think it's okay to be insistent that somebody play with her. I know that my DD is a very flexible, laidback person who would open up her play to a new person if I told her that it was important. Some kids might be so stubborn and intense in their behavior that an adult wouldn't be able to tell them who to play with without a major conflict. Anyway, if I were the teacher in the OP's situation, I would work on finding easygoing kids to pair the girl up with rather than tell the "mean" kids to be nice when they issue their rejections.

Sugar-coated rejection is still rejection. While I do not think that kids should be forced to be friends with anybody, there are lots of things that teachers and parents can do to smooth the way for a child that is being left out, either by integrating the child with other children or changing the environment that allows cliques to form. At this age, I don't think that many kids are genuinely mean-spirited and can be guided to be more open and welcoming of newcomers, especially if most are just following the cues of a "ring leader", which sounds like the case in the OP. Move them to different tables, play games where they are paired up differently and must cooperate to "win", etc. This may not be so easy when they are 14, but these are preschoolers - solving these kinds of issues early on can change both the victim and "perpetrator" cycle for life.
post #31 of 61
i would say that it's starting with the mothers.

i've shared this story in other places before, but i'll put it here.

in my old neighborhood, there were 3 bus stops. daily, i go for a walk around bus time becuase i love the noise of children and find it pleasant to see them outside, seeing as they rarely ever are in our former neighborhood.

another tidbit about me is that i have two nose piercings and at the time, i had dread locks. i also have a tattoo, but it is unseen. also at the time, i taught yoga at the near-by Y (i still teach yoga, just not there). and the neighborhood is very, very mainstream.

so, i'm out for my walk and i am nearing one of the bus stops. i recognize a mom there from my yoga class. in yoga class, she is always friendly and pleasant--even chatty. there are many kids around, from age 4-5 to age 7-8, waiting for the am kindy and grades school buses with their mothers.

the kids are generally running around playing and the mothers are all dressed alike and chatting in a circle more or less making sure the kids aren't running out into the street.

as i walk up, i see that the children have taken notice of my unusual appearance (hair, jewelry). the younger ones seem open and curious, while the older ones have a very negative, even snobby response.

as i get closer to the knot of mothers, i see my client. as i move to wave to her, one of the mothers goes "can you believe she goes out like that? i would be embarassed to even know her!" As i motion to my client, she turns her back to me quickly, and another woman goes "do you know her?" to which she responds "No! of course not! i think i've just seen her at the Y or something!" And then they continue to talk about how horrible it would be for my chidlren to have a mother like that, how can my husband stand it, etc.

seriously, and i'm walking by and they know that i can hear them.

it was then that i noticed that the little children, who had originally been open and curious became snobby and were repeating their mother's actions.

so, the wannabees and queen bees stuff happens at home first, and then is moved into other social settings.

oddly, most of these women are now clients and think i'm "totally awesome" and don't realize that i remember that incident. the only other person who remembers is the one woman who was my client first. she never apologized, but she was rather sheepish with me after.
post #32 of 61
Eko, your daughter sounds like ME at that age. I started kindergarten at 4 (late birthday), and I can still remember feeling confused and hurt much of the time. Just like your daughter, the loudness and physicality of the other kids freaked me out, and just like your daughter, I didn't really get how to join in with the other girls. I can remember getting much the same reaction as you have described. I luckily had a wonderful teacher and my mom was in a position to try different things. She ended up taking me out of school and sending me to a neighbour's house who was home schooling her three children. The smaller group was perfect. It allowed me to learn how to socialize in a more protected environment (25 five-year olds zooming around a room simultaneously would make me feel overwhelmed even now!) and also allowed me to get an academic jump on the other kids who were in kindergarten, thus increasing my confidence. I returned to school the following year, entering grade one at the same time as my peers, and it went fine (although to be honest, I've yet to learn how to deal with certain types of particularly vicious female dynamics).

She sounds like a "sensitive" child. I recently read a book called The Highly Sensitive Person and it explained SO MUCH about the way I've dealt with life. I wish someone could have told me this stuff earlier. I'm sure there are books that are aimed at parents who deal with a highly sensitive child, and what a gift that would be for your daughter if she didn't have to spend 35 years (like me) trying to figure out why certain situations caused such anxiety while most others seemed just fine with it.

If you could find a smaller, gentler community for her, it might help. I think learning to socialize is extremely important, but if she's going to spend her time worrying about being run over by the boisterous boys and hurt by the way the other girls interact with her, what good does that do?
post #33 of 61
eepster, fascinating. I need to read QBs & Wannabees.
post #34 of 61
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Mac View Post
but if she's going to spend her time worrying about being run over by the boisterous boys and hurt by the way the other girls interact with her, what good does that do?
Agreed.

I haven't read the QB/wannabe book. And, I'm not sure that we are dealing with a popularity issue. They ARE 4 y.o. I'm sure the roots are there as some have suggested. I think it is the result of a culture created when you throw 25 kids together. They cling to the things they know and try to create order out of chaos. If in their minds, controlling who plays make them feel powerful in a powerless situation, then that's what to do.

The girls in question are the more active, imaginative players, as they are older. DD is more highly verbal than the other kids her age, so she wants to interact with the older kids. I don't think its a case of popularity as much as the previously forged relationships and outside school play, and in one case, a clear a bigger body and personality she uses to intimidate the other kids.

I told her teacher what was bothering me, er, I mean DD, again--and that we would be trying some mommy and me things in spring after our vacation which is coming up. She seemed to be putting it on DD that she just needs to be tougher, become accustomed to the way things are, "she's made such progress." I don't know what that means really.

Interestingly another girl came up during our conversation and said that "R" said she couldn't play with "them." The director just said, "that's going to happen. Choose someone else to play with." But, then a moment later, after what seemed like reflection, went to "R" and said something. I don't know what.

I like the people there, but I think DD needs a smaller group. She thrives, she's outgoing, confident, proud. In this big group, the kids are too aimless, the teachers can't listen and none of the activities are really directed. I'm all for independent play, but I think that children need to be taught how to interact with one another. Maybe, in a perfect world they would naturally know how to be, but since many of them may be replicating pathological patterns that they see around them, guidance is essential for those of us who care about that.

We agreed that the director that we would come back and visit here and there after we get back from vacation and that they would save us a spot next year, when the kids in question will be gone, but the more I think about it, its not the kids as much as the culture and the setting.

DH doesn't see it.
post #35 of 61
In rereading Playful Parenting I encountered a section on helping kids be inclusive. Cohen addresses specifically things like race and ability, but points out that kids very easily spot differences and end up excluding others.

In another part, he talks about ways kids play with power and social structure. For instance, boys may see what happens if they yell "get Fred!!" whereas girls are more likely (paraphrased as directly as possible from the book) "to whisper 'everyone wear a red shirt tomorrow and don't tell Alison'"

Playful Parenting naturally offers some fun ways to break that cycle. But they might not work for you in the dynamic of you're the adult who is there for your dd as well as they'd work for a teacher or a volunteer who was consistently involved with all the kids.

I'd leave the school because the teachers sound incompetent, but before going to another school I'd seriously consider either letting your dd go alone or going to the classroom as a volunteer who happens to be your dd's mom not as your dd's mom who happens to come to school with her.
post #36 of 61
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
I'd leave the school because the teachers sound incompetent, but before going to another school I'd seriously consider either letting your dd go alone or going to the classroom as a volunteer who happens to be your dd's mom not as your dd's mom who happens to come to school with her.

Hmmm. This is the first time that it has occurred to me that the "difference" the other kids might notice is me.
post #37 of 61
Oh, does it seem like it's not a big deal in the school setting? It stood out for me in reading your post.

The reason it won't work with you as a parent is one of the easiest ways to get kids to include each other is to turn them against you and that might come across to your dd as pushing her away.

The teachers at the current school can't be relied on to help with any team-building activities since they've already made it clear that they're fine with the behavior.

That said, I'd probably experiment with being present but not right with her at this point. E.g. sit in a corner with a book or even stay outside the classroom, "hey dd, I'm going to go back to the car and get a book" and check to see if she goes to play or if she stands there staring at the door waiting for you.

It's the old dilemma of the baby falling and not crying until mama runs over in a panic. Has your dd progressed to where she can talk with the kids on her own and is being held back by you or is does she still need you as much as ever? And it's not a question that can necessarily be answered by your dd, since she might either anticipate and get anxious or be over confident outside the actual setting. "Oh no don't leave me!!!" or "of course I'll be okay...wait you're leaving now???"
post #38 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by eko_mom View Post
I don't at all agree, obviously. They are 4. Learning inclusion and kindness is one of the things keeps us from being wild animals, IMHO.
Do you like all adults? I certainly don't. While I'm generally polite to people, there are people I don't want to spend more than a minimal amount of time with. If one of those people insisting on continuing to try to spend time with me, then it may come to needing to say "I really don't enjoy your company. I don't want to have coffee with you." That's not cruel. It's respecting *my* boundaries.

Your dd may like the other girls, but they aren't required to like her back. I think the lesson for the other girls is that there are polite ways to say "I don't want to play with you." Saying it to each other in your daughter's hearing is passive-aggressive, but it may be the only way they know. The lesson for your dd is that everyone doesn't want to play with her, and that's okay. It's *not* required. I don't believe that not wanting to be friends = bullying.
post #39 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mandymichel View Post
Yes it is terribly mean to leave someone out in that way. Bullying doesn't have to be in the form of loud abusive insults or violence. Bullying from girls tends to be more quiet and subtle but just as painful.
I completely agree that girls' bullying is quieter, but I don't view what's happening to the OP's daughter as bullying. In my experience, girls who bully say things like "look at her pants. I can't believe she's wearing that." There's a gradual wearing down of the other person's self-esteem. If my dd were doing that, I'd definitely have a talk with her.

OTOH, just not to want to play with someone isn't mean, and I can't understand how it is construed that way. Perhaps it's my own experience, but playing with a specific peer isn't a right any child has. If I were the teacher, I'd look for ways to help the OP's child find friends who want to play with her, but I wouldn't in any way force people to play with her. I certainly don't think the other girls would be nice to her if forced to play with her; that would only create more resentment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mandymichel View Post
This girl is being excluded and is not being given the freedom to enjoy herself the way the other kids are. I don't care how reasonable the individual acts of exclusion might look.
She's being given the freedom to enjoy herself. She can play alone or play with other children. It's just these 2-3 girls who are the problem (and apparently all boys, but I don't think you'll be able to -or that you should - make other kids stop running and laughing loudly at recess).

As I said, I was a sensitive child - highly sensitive. I understand that the OP's child had her feelings hurt. I just don't think that means that the other girls have no right not to want to play with her. It's one of those situations where we expect something from children we do not expect from adults. I would in no way expect every adult I encounter to like me or want to spend their social time with me, and I don't expect that for my children either. (Nor do I want to be expected to spend my social time with just anyone. I pick friends based on who I like.)
post #40 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
I completely agree that girls' bullying is quieter, but I don't view what's happening to the OP's daughter as bullying. In my experience, girls who bully say things like "look at her pants. I can't believe she's wearing that." There's a gradual wearing down of the other person's self-esteem. If my dd were doing that, I'd definitely have a talk with her.

OTOH, just not to want to play with someone isn't mean, and I can't understand how it is construed that way. Perhaps it's my own experience, but playing with a specific peer isn't a right any child has. If I were the teacher, I'd look for ways to help the OP's child find friends who want to play with her, but I wouldn't in any way force people to play with her. I certainly don't think the other girls would be nice to her if forced to play with her; that would only create more resentment.

She's being given the freedom to enjoy herself. She can play alone or play with other children. It's just these 2-3 girls who are the problem (and apparently all boys, but I don't think you'll be able to -or that you should - make other kids stop running and laughing loudly at recess).

As I said, I was a sensitive child - highly sensitive. I understand that the OP's child had her feelings hurt. I just don't think that means that the other girls have no right not to want to play with her. It's one of those situations where we expect something from children we do not expect from adults. I would in no way expect every adult I encounter to like me or want to spend their social time with me, and I don't expect that for my children either. (Nor do I want to be expected to spend my social time with just anyone. I pick friends based on who I like.)
From the OP, my impression was that none of the children were being receptive to the girl in question. It might have been that a few of the girls stood out as being verbally insensitive but nobody else was offering to play with the OP's DD either. So the girl's only option is to play by herself, it sounds like. Let's say that every one of those kids is being polite about not wanting to play with DD and DD is left alone. Is that okay? I don't think so. Isolating someone in a peaceful way is just as bad as doing it in an openly mean way. It certainly hurts just as much or maybe even more because the isolated one is given no clue as to what the others don't like about her. And teachers don't care because everyone is being civil.
You're right that many of the kids would not be happy about being forced to play with someone they already decided not to play with. But as I've pointed out, some kids are flexible and can be pushed to do the right thing even if it wasn't their idea initially.
True, as adults we have the right to decide individually not to befriend someone, which collectively could result in some people having no friends at all. But kids are different in that adults have the right to teach them values, some being, "Everyone deserves a friend," and "If you see someone playing alone, go up to that person and start being a friend." It would be nice if adults could be molded in the same way but because they're adults, they've had their chance to learn to be nice people and we just have to live with the fact that some of them never learned this.
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