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Preschool of Hard Knocks? What to do about mean kids? - Page 3

post #41 of 61
I have to agree with Brandi Rhoades. I think it's especially important for women (and therefore girls) to be able to establish boundaries.

I think your daughter is picking up on your attitude. These kids don't sound especially mean--they sound like kids. Modelling friendliness and politeness is great, but we have to respect our kids' feelings too. Accepting rejection is also part of life.
post #42 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mandymichel View Post
From the OP, my impression was that none of the children were being receptive to the girl in question. ... 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.
Plus, kids at school aren't the same as friends in real life. You might be friends with some one at school and in real life, or you might just play with them at school. It's less like being an adult who is told to make friends with that person over there, and more like being an adult who knows they need to be civil and work well with a co-worker.

You might not go have them over for dinner, but, unless you're a UAV, you also don't forget to give them the information for the project you're working on.
post #43 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
Plus, kids at school aren't the same as friends in real life. You might be friends with some one at school and in real life, or you might just play with them at school. It's less like being an adult who is told to make friends with that person over there, and more like being an adult who knows they need to be civil and work well with a co-worker.

You might not go have them over for dinner, but, unless you're a UAV, you also don't forget to give them the information for the project you're working on.
And if you both happen to go to the same pizza place at lunch time, you will happily sit with them and make polite conversation.
post #44 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
And if you both happen to go to the same pizza place at lunch time, you will happily sit with them and make polite conversation.
Exactly! (sorry, just really happy that you understood so well)

I think the problem is that they only good way to convey how to behave appropriately to a classmate in the classroom is to say "you need to be friends" and then that implies that the only people you should play with and do crafts with are "friends." And no one wants to force a kid to be friends with someone.

So the girls who are mean get away with being rude at school because they "don't have to be friends if they don't want to."
post #45 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mandymichel View Post
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.
See, I don't agree that everyone *deserves* a friend. A friend is someone who genuinely likes you, not something you can force or "deserve." Everyone deserves to be treated kindly (in general, there are exceptions, but all 4YOs, let's say), but that doesn't always equate to being friends with them.

As an introvert, if I'm alone, I CHOOSE to be. That was true for me as a child, and it's true now. I don't want or need people to come up and start trying to be friendly. A "hi, how are you" is fine, but that's really the extent of what I want when I'm sitting alone. I know that's not the OP's dd's situation; I'm just offering a different perspective. People have different needs and wants when it comes to interaction with others, and I don't think forcing interaction is going to be useful.

Ultimately if my child were having trouble with every other child in class, I would start looking at what was going on with my child. From my view, the Op's daughter doesn't like any of the boys because they're loud and run at recess. There's not much you can or should do there. Then she wants continually to spend time with the few girls who don't like her. (The OP said there are other girls who are nice to her, but she doesn't want to play with them.)

So, my goal as her mom would be helping her improve her self-image and not want to hang onto girls who aren't going to be nice to her - that's what gives "mean girls" power - that others want to be friends with them and will tolerate being mistreated. Now is the time to teach her daughter how destructive that is. I don't believe it's the time to try to force those girls to play with her. Why would you want to be friends with people who don't like you? That would be the lesson I'd work on with my children.
post #46 of 61
Very interesting conversation. I am wondering about a similar dynamic with a girl in DS' preschool class who (he tells me) keeps telling him to go away if he approaches one of the "corners" in the classroom (thing is, in his case I cannot discount the possibility that he got aggressive in a fight once or somthing like that. I shall be observing next week and hope for some insight).

I strongly disagree with people who are turning this into a "friendship" issue. Of course you cannot force anyone to be friends with someone. However, preschool class isn't just like a supervised street - it's a classroom and there are limited opportunities for children to go away, find someone else, play by themselves etc. It's a group formed by the parents and teachers and part of the teachers' job is creating a feeling of groupness - not everyone has to be friends, but no-one must be deliberately excluded. Stepping in only when children come to blows is way too late in that respect. I like the analogy to the workplace - you don't have to be friends, but if it turns out you have been deliberately excluding the one female colleague from coffee hour you may get in trouble.

I also disagree with those who feel that 4 year olds are not old enough to be "mean" or to understand the abuse of power that goes with bullying. I was bullied badly in first grade, by six-year-olds. I have encountered queen bee/wanna bee situations with 7-year-olds. And I was recently at a multi-family vacation at a cabin and found out from one of the moms after two days that one four-year-old had been deliberately organizing the other girls (5 and 2) into excluding the one 6-year.old boy (I hadn't noticed because my then 2-year-old used to exclude himself very deliberately) and when I realized what was going on, it was obvious that the 4-year-old was enjoying her power very much indeed. We agreed not to say anything because she was leaving with her family that day, but if she had stayed longer, I would have tried to put a stop to it by explaining that we were all at the cabin together, no one could go off to find someone else to play with and everyone in the group had to be included - those were the rules for everyone who wanted to be part of this vacation (and I would have included her mom in the explanation, because I was the one who'd organized the cabin and I was sure she was very proud of her assertive and popular daughter).

It's completely different in the street or on the playground. In a class, the teachers aren't doing their job, though, if they allow that kind of thing to happen.
post #47 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
See, I don't agree that everyone *deserves* a friend. A friend is someone who genuinely likes you, not something you can force or "deserve." Everyone deserves to be treated kindly (in general, there are exceptions, but all 4YOs, let's say), but that doesn't always equate to being friends with them.


As an introvert, if I'm alone, I CHOOSE to be. That was true for me as a child, and it's true now. I don't want or need people to come up and start trying to be friendly. A "hi, how are you" is fine, but that's really the extent of what I want when I'm sitting alone. I know that's not the OP's dd's situation; I'm just offering a different perspective. People have different needs and wants when it comes to interaction with others, and I don't think forcing interaction is going to be useful.

Ultimately if my child were having trouble with every other child in class, I would start looking at what was going on with my child. From my view, the Op's daughter doesn't like any of the boys because they're loud and run at recess. There's not much you can or should do there. Then she wants continually to spend time with the few girls who don't like her. (The OP said there are other girls who are nice to her, but she doesn't want to play with them.)

Actually, the OP said that there are nicer girls in the class who are on the same level as her DD in a verbal sense. We don't know that these girls have actually reached out to her DD. They might just be there in the same class, not being mean or loud but not actually interacting with her DD.

So, my goal as her mom would be helping her improve her self-image and not want to hang onto girls who aren't going to be nice to her - that's what gives "mean girls" power - that others want to be friends with them and will tolerate being mistreated. Now is the time to teach her daughter how destructive that is. I don't believe it's the time to try to force those girls to play with her. Why would you want to be friends with people who don't like you? That would be the lesson I'd work on with my children.
Maybe there's a difference between a true lifelong friend and a person who is a "friend" in a sense that someone can tolerate him enough to hang around with him in a classroom setting. I don't see what the point of kindness is if you are okay with exclusion. If exclusion in a preschool class is okay, you might as well let kids be mean about it.

You might choose to be alone but another person might not. I would encourage my kids to reach out to people who don't have anyone to play with and see if they would like some company. If they don't want to be bothered, leave them alone.

Yeah, that's a great goal for her DD, but the mean girls should also be made to understand that it's not okay to exclude people in the community atmosphere of a classroom. I think a lot of communities are like that. I can think of many people who I can act friendly with and who I even feel personally responsible for but in a deep sense, I don't like them very much (relatives, neighbors, coworkers, etc.).
post #48 of 61
As I see it, several things are going on that are all contributing to the problems. Some can't be helped, other could be worked on.
  1. The OP's DD came into the school year late after social groups had already formed. There really isn't anything anyone could do about this with out a time machine.
  2. The class is somewhat more hectic than the OP's DD is comfortable with.
  3. The OP's DD has been left to try to make friends on her own instead of the teacher trying to actively help her find some.
  4. The OP has decided she wants to be part of the "popular girls" group instead of seeking out other more receptive girls to get to know.
  5. The culture of "popular girls" has for unknown reasons sprung up very early in this group and is flourishing.
  6. There are no clear guide line for the students about what is an open to everyone activity and what isn't, or when one needs to be inclusive vs when one choose who to work with (example: anyone is allowed at the art table to color if there are empty chairs, but one only has to invite ones friends home for a play date.)
  7. The students are not given guidance on expressing boundaries politely.
  8. The OP's DD spend less time in the class, so she has less opportunity to get close with other students.
post #49 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by eepster View Post
As I see it, several things are going on that are all contributing to the problems. Some can't be helped, other could be worked on.
  1. The OP's DD came into the school year late after social groups had already formed. There really isn't anything anyone could do about this with out a time machine.
  2. The class is somewhat more hectic than the OP's DD is comfortable with.
  3. The OP's DD has been left to try to make friends on her own instead of the teacher trying to actively help her find some.
  4. The OP has decided she wants to be part of the "popular girls" group instead of seeking out other more receptive girls to get to know.
  5. The culture of "popular girls" has for unknown reasons sprung up very early in this group and is flourishing.
  6. There are no clear guide line for the students about what is an open to everyone activity and what isn't, or when one needs to be inclusive vs when one choose who to work with (example: anyone is allowed at the art table to color if there are empty chairs, but one only has to invite ones friends home for a play date.)
  7. The students are not given guidance on expressing boundaries politely.
  8. The OP's DD spend less time in the class, so she has less opportunity to get close with other students.
9. This little girl's mother comes to school with her every day. That's got to make the other kids wonder.
post #50 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by choli View Post
9. This little girl's mother comes to school with her every day. That's got to make the other kids wonder.
I can see the thought processes "but why would she need someone to play with? she has her mommy! I like to play with my mommy!"

Or even "she gets to be with her mommy and I don't get to have my mommy, that's not fair and she doesn't deserve to play with me"

All subconsciously, of course.
post #51 of 61
it sounds to me like you are finding a lot of interesting things to ponder, answers to some of your original questions.

(i need to check out playful parenting again now that i have an address, i can get a library card!)

i think that there is an aspect of needing to "toughen up" to an extent that occurs with *all* people. when and how that happens, i don't know. school is part of it. btu there also is that some kids need to "soften up" too--and that's hard to see and harder to teach/learn/etc.

anyway, this thread has given me a lot of food for thought.
post #52 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mandymichel View Post
Maybe there's a difference between a true lifelong friend and a person who is a "friend" in a sense that someone can tolerate him enough to hang around with him in a classroom setting. I don't see what the point of kindness is if you are okay with exclusion. If exclusion in a preschool class is okay, you might as well let kids be mean about it.
There are polite ways to say that you don't want to spend time with someone. My husband is asked repeatedly by a group of people at work to go to lunch. He went once, and it became clear they all are very conservative Christian, open praying at the lunch table, demonization of liberals, etc. So that's not us, and DH won't go to lunch with them anymore. They ask often, and they're usually just going to the cafeteria downstairs. He had to find a way to politely say that he didn't want to eat lunch with them, but he still works very closely with them. They're the testing team for the projects he designs, and he needs to have a solid work relationship with them. Still he's not their friend. They're all nice at work, but there's just no need to foster a "community atmosphere" beyond being polite about work issues, a gift when one has a baby, etc.

I think it's vitally important to learn those kinds of boundaries, and this is a good opportunity for the op's daughter. The other girls were at the art table with her, but they don't have to include her in their play. Really, they don't. Relationships form when both people want them, and in this case, they don't. The Op's daughter's wants don't get to trump the other girls' wants.


Quote:
Originally Posted by mandymichel View Post
You might choose to be alone but another person might not. I would encourage my kids to reach out to people who don't have anyone to play with and see if they would like some company. If they don't want to be bothered, leave them alone.
Isn't that what the op's dd is doing? These girls clearly do not want to spend time with her, yet she's trying to make them by intruding into their conversations. She wants to invite them to her house when they clearly DO NOT like her. That's not a healthy behavior to foster. We have been through this. For a while, DS asked often to play with this boy who just isn't nice, and we had to work through that with him and help him with the idea that the other boy is really bossy & just downright mean (name-calling and the like). We took it as a teaching opportunity to show DS that some people aren't good choices for friends, and people who are mean to you are at the top of that list.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mandymichel View Post
Yeah, that's a great goal for her DD, but the mean girls should also be made to understand that it's not okay to exclude people in the community atmosphere of a classroom. I think a lot of communities are like that. I can think of many people who I can act friendly with and who I even feel personally responsible for but in a deep sense, I don't like them very much (relatives, neighbors, coworkers, etc.).
These girls are 4! They aren't in any way responsible for the OP's daughter. Of course they need education on how to express their feelings, but I don't see why they need to be forced to hang out with one specific child. I suppose, too, that I just don't see the benefit of that. They aren't going to get nicer to her. She'll always be that kid the teacher made them play with at the Lego table. By forcing the interaction, you're showing that the op's daughter needs an adult's intervention, which, ime, only feeds into the negativity from "mean girls." It reinforces the upper hand. "We're so cool that the teacher makes us play with other kids who like us that much."
post #53 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by sapphire_chan View Post
I can see the thought processes "but why would she need someone to play with? she has her mommy! I like to play with my mommy!"

Or even "she gets to be with her mommy and I don't get to have my mommy, that's not fair and she doesn't deserve to play with me"

All subconsciously, of course.
Or even "she's a baby! Why would I want to play with her?" For children who are this age and are accustomed to or okay with separating from their parents, it would be easy to imagine that the op's daughter is viewed as a baby because her mom comes to school with her. This age seems to be a big time for differentiating oneself as a "kid" and not a "baby."
post #54 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
These girls are 4! They aren't in any way responsible for the OP's daughter. Of course they need education on how to express their feelings, but I don't see why they need to be forced to hang out with one specific child. I suppose, too, that I just don't see the benefit of that. They aren't going to get nicer to her. She'll always be that kid the teacher made them play with at the Lego table. By forcing the interaction, you're showing that the op's daughter needs an adult's intervention, which, ime, only feeds into the negativity from "mean girls." It reinforces the upper hand. "We're so cool that the teacher makes us play with other kids who like us that much."
My point isn't really that the particular group of mean girls should befriend the OP's DD but that the OP's DD does not deserve to be excluded by everyone, which it sounds like she is. No kid deserves to be alone in a preschool classroom with no one to play with. Maybe it would do no good to pressure these particular mean girls to play with the DD but it might be good to pressure somebody to play with her, perhaps a kid with a more pliable personality who just wouldn't make the decision on her own. And there also should be repercussions for kids who actively exclude, even if it is clear that making them be inclusive would not be effective.

Nothing about your theory prevents against the possibility of particular children being totally alone at school with nobody to talk to, play with, work with, etc. Every single one of the kids could decide he/she does not want to play with the girl and you would respect their collective wishes as long as they were polite about it. Or if the kids weren't polite, the only problem to fix would be the lack of politeness--not the fact that there is a child without a friend? Those situations occur very often for arbitrary reasons and they leave lasting emotional damage upon a child. Being excluded is being abused, even if there is no individual agent solely responsible.
post #55 of 61
Thread Starter 

Whoa! Thread has taken a life of its own!

Hi, I'm the OP. Interesting conversation going on here, and a lot of conjecture...I guess the nature of asynchronous conversations hard to correct each misapprehension about our situation.


I think it is more a function of how kids try to control their environment, exercise control over others when they feel threatened. DD is not without kids to play with, and its not that all the kids treat her unkindly. Most of the kids are without the attention span to create a campaign of sustained exclusion. Remember, they are 2-5 y.o. The ones that are mean are a few of the older girls who, may have. It is, if anything, a matter of her encroaching upon their territory, than with them not liking her because she's "different" as some suggest. But in either case...

I don't expect all kids to be friends, what I do expect at preschool, is for adult guidance in how to treat other human beings kindly and for children to learn how to be inclusive, work and play together with respect. That is what preschool is for in my opinion, not, as some suggest, the place to learn to toughen up for what lies ahead. But this is philosophical, of course, because the school environment, as we have constructed it does require coping skills that, frankly, are only necessary in that environment. Maybe if we did a better job earlier and agreed more as a culture about how we ought to treat one another at any age, this wouldn't be the case.

DD isn't maladjusted, or socially inept. She's just 4. We have practiced attachment parenting and I have never forced her to separate with me unless she is comfortable. I think she is not comfortable in the large group chaotic environ because its new. I am generally not in the classroom itself, rather in the lobby area, though accessible.

I suppose me staying with her at school is at odds with how most preschool-attending families work. Other parents spend time in the classroom (not as much as me) so I am not sure that this is what is creating some of the mean girls' behavior. But it may be a contributing factor if they perceive it as a privilege they do not have. That's pretty complex for a little kid, but, maybe.

All in all, I guess I'm just disappointed in the quality of the lessons she has learned. I hoped for utopia, and I got hard-knocks. Welcome to the real world, I guess some would say.
post #56 of 61
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
Ultimately if my child were having trouble with every other child in class, I would start looking at what was going on with my child. From my view, the Op's daughter doesn't like any of the boys because they're loud and run at recess. There's not much you can or should do there. Then she wants continually to spend time with the few girls who don't like her. (The OP said there are other girls who are nice to her, but she doesn't want to play with them.)
Did I say that? Not having problems with all the kids in class or all the boys, just the rowdy, loud, gun shooting, pushing ones. DD doesn't "continually" want to spend time with the offending girls, but would, I think like not being verbally assaulted when within range. O.K., that was overdramatic. She'd like to be able to freely join in all classroom activities without being rebuffed in a hurtful way. She does play with the other girls and, as far as I can tell, wants to.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BrandiRhoades View Post
So, my goal as her mom would be helping her improve her self-image and not want to hang onto girls who aren't going to be nice to her - that's what gives "mean girls" power - that others want to be friends with them and will tolerate being mistreated. Now is the time to teach her daughter how destructive that is. I don't believe it's the time to try to force those girls to play with her. Why would you want to be friends with people who don't like you? That would be the lesson I'd work on with my children.
Touche.
post #57 of 61
What a fascinating thread! I wanted to make *many, many* replies as I read through it. But I didn't have anything to add that other posters hadn't mentioned, so I didn't do so. Holy cow, this thread covers all the complex interactions between kids, schools, parents, teachers, friends, peers, bullies, empaths.
post #58 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by eko_mom View Post
Did I say that? Not having problems with all the kids in class or all the boys, just the rowdy, loud, gun shooting, pushing ones. DD doesn't "continually" want to spend time with the offending girls, but would, I think like not being verbally assaulted when within range. O.K., that was overdramatic. She'd like to be able to freely join in all classroom activities without being rebuffed in a hurtful way. She does play with the other girls and, as far as I can tell, wants to.
This paragraph makes the situation seem a lot different to me than it did initially. Initially I got the feeling that your DD had nobody to play with, although there were kids in the class who would probably be receptive to it. Now the situation seems much less extreme and more of a case of a few bad apples. I still hold the position that the teachers should teach the "mean girls" to be inclusive and that all the supplies belong to everyone (you can't declare something off limits to a classmate). But if your DD really does have kids to play with at school, enjoys their company, and looks forward to going to school, the quiet negativity of a few girls doesn't seem like a big enough deal to make you leave the school.
post #59 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by eko_mom View Post
I am generally not in the classroom itself, rather in the lobby area, though accessible.
Well then your staying isn't the problem. I was picturing you being there close to hand. And especially with other parents attending occasionally, that's definitely not the cause.

I think it's them experimenting with power. "Can we shut out the younger girl?" (Have you noticed them doing that sort of thing to other 4 y.o.s besides your dd?) And the answer they've gotten from the teachers is that yes they can and nothing will happen.

Tell your dd to do whatever she wants and if those girls try to keep her from anything she should tell the teacher and then tell you she told the teacher.
post #60 of 61
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mandymichel View Post
This paragraph makes the situation seem a lot different to me than it did initially...But if your DD really does have kids to play with at school, enjoys their company, and looks forward to going to school, the quiet negativity of a few girls doesn't seem like a big enough deal to make you leave the school.
Yes, things are different than they appeared to me initially too. After I observed things for a couple more weeks I could see that it is two particular girls who work independently with whatever kid(s) they are playing with to do the power-trip. Whatever kids they are playing with seem to sort of silently acquiesce. One of them did it to another kid while I was there. She happens to have become a big sister in the last year...and incidentally so has the other girl that does the excluding.

That changes some things...but not the overall "Lord of the Flies" atmosphere of too many kids and not enough observation/guidance.

Since I posted, we have seen one of the "mean" girls at a few outside venues and she has gushed and cooed over DD wanting to be with her. This has initially alarmed dd but last time she played with her and it seemed to go well if dd was willing to follow. Not sure how I feel about that but I think its OK since mostly otherwise dd leads in peer groups.

Not sure if we are leaving the school. We are on an extended vacation out of state and will reflect. There are some good things about staying because she is familiar.
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