Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Northwest WA state
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I'm so sorry for your situation; it's a tricky one. I would have to agree that I don't think you're going to find an environment where bullying just won't happen -- private school or no. The difference, I think, comes in how the teacher handles it. I used to run a Waldorf early childhood program in my home and I now sometimes substitute in my daughter's Waldorf kindergarten, and I'm sorry to say I have seen varying levels of this kind of behavior in both of these environments. Now, what to do about it?
I think it would be a real shame for your daughter to lose her best friend over this. It would also be somewhat tragic for her to switch schools and lose all of her friends and peers over it (especially since it's not a sure thing that you won't encounter this elsewhere). So, the best thing, I think, is to figure out how to work within the situation.
IMO, separating them doesn't help. It may be what the teacher needs to do to get through the day and still make sure that your daughter is safe, but it's not going to help them resolve it. At best it's a band aid, at worst it is sending the girls the message that the adults around think this is a serious problem and that we think they're not capable of solving it (and we're not capable of solving it right now either.)
And, it's true the burden of changing the dynamic should not fall solely on your daughter's shoulders, there are two children here, but I would look at what she can do to upset the dynamic a bit. But I bet it's not just about "sticking up for herself."
Now about the other girl. I would look closely at what is happening, why she is doing it, what we want to be happening, and try to figure out the best way to get from here to there. Often distraction is helpful. But what is the real reason for her behavior? Is she just trying to reach out to your daughter? Does she want to play with her in a certain way and isn't getting the opportunity? Is she feeling a bit powerless in the class and is looking for a way to exert some control, and your daughter is just the easiest victim? Whatever the reason the key is to recognize it, honor and embrace it, and enoble it. If it is a power thing -- recognize her need to feel some power in the class, see her as a scared, insecure little thing just looking for recognition and acceptance. How can we give her that without making her feel bad (and hence more insecure) about the way that she's asking for it. Maybe the teacher can let her choose an activity for the class to do. It could sound like rewarding her for negative behavior, but really, I see it as just satisfying her need, letting her know that her negative behavior is no longer necessary.
After reading about the birthday party -- it sounds like this little girl really wants to play in a certain way with your daughter. She wants to play her way, and isn't listening to what your daughter wants. Why is she doing that? Does she feel insecure about getting her way and she doesn't know any other way to get it? Maybe the teacher just needs to help her find a different way to express herself to your daughter. It sounds like your daughter might not object to the other girls' ideas, it's just the way she is imposing them on her. The key, though, is to not make the other little girl feel bad about how she is going about it.
Now, what can your daughter do? A little story -- in my daughter's kindergarten class there is a little boy who just loves to get everybody's goat. He picks on a couple of kids in the class and goes to them and tells them something that isn't true. In my daughter's case he would go to her and say, "You're in first grade!" This just drove her crazy, she would cry and yell "No I'm not!" I looked at this situation and realized that it was easier to upset the dynamic by getting my daughter to change her reaction. This stubborn little boy just found it too fun and powerful, and he was a little guy, so I knew that he wasn't going to change too easily. So one day when I was there I suggested we play a little game, "True and not true." Someone would say something and the rest of the group had to shout out "True!" or "Not true!" We played one time in the classroom and then once we were out on the playground I caught this little boy starting to tell my daughter something untrue. I jumped in and said, "NOT TRUE!" They all laughed and my daughter found a different way to react to this little boy's behavior. After that they played this game for awhile, everybody laughing every time someone shouted "Not true!"
So, my point here is that maybe there is a way that your daughter can find a way to break out of the dynamic. It's not really worthwhile to question whether she should HAVE to change (after all it's this other little girl's naughty behavior that is causing the problem) because it is definitely in her best interests for the dynamic to change -- even if she's the one to change it. It could be quite powerful for her to realize that she has control of the situation. I'm willing to bet, though, that just telling her to "stick up for herself" is not going to inspire her to find a different reaction to the dynamic. I'm not close enough to the situation to know what might help her, but something creative and something that does not make the other girl feel bad would be most effective.
Anyway, I hope you find some kind of resolution. I really hate to see good friendships ruined over stuff like this. These girls really need the adults around to help them resolve it.