7 year old and "Enemy List" - Mothering Forums
The Childhood Years > 7 year old and "Enemy List"
queen b's Avatar queen b 01:57 PM 12-19-2012

Hello! My 7 year old, first grade daughter came home from school today and told me that she and another girl are making an "enemy list". She said as of now she has one girl on it, who she was friends with yesterday. It makes me sad that stuff like this goes on so young! I told her that it made me sad and that it could really be hurtful to her friend. Now that she knows how I feel she's even more excited to write it. Any suggestions of how to approach this? 

mnj77's Avatar mnj77 02:48 PM 12-19-2012

I would do whatever you can to shut that down.  I think I would tell DD, "I cannot let you be so cruel and unkind to another girl.  If you plan to write down an enemy list, I am going to call your teacher and let him/her know so he/she can protect the other girl."  And I would probably let the teacher know anyway so he or she could address the general subject in the classroom (if DD decided not to write the list, I wouldn't implicate DD directly, but give the teacher more general info).  I guess there's a chance that will make her just hide things from you in the future, but I couldn't let something like that go on without intervening.  At least when someone puts your dd on their enemy list, she'll know you'll be there to protect her too!

mamazee's Avatar mamazee 03:26 PM 12-19-2012
I would explain to her that what she's doing is called "exclusion" and that it's a kind of bullying, and that you don't want her bullying anyone. I'd get into a discussion of what bullying is and what it looks like. I read a book called Queen Bees and Wannabes or something along those lines. You might try reading up a bit on bullying so you can discuss the whole issue of bullying with her rather than just this specific incident. If it's just about this incident, next time it'll be a club where your first name has to begin with A, M, S, or J, and one of the little girls will happen to have a name that starts with R. This exclusion bullying can be done in so many ways that you really have to talk about bullying in total I think.
Mummoth's Avatar Mummoth 04:34 PM 12-19-2012

I'd start by asking her what 'enemy' means, she might not even know! Around that age, my son came out of school upset because someone had called him a midget... he's one of the tallest kids in the class! I'd explain the meaning and go from there, sometimes just understanding what a word means takes the power out of it or makes it less appealing. Maybe she'll change her mind about doing that. 

Ragana's Avatar Ragana 05:01 PM 12-19-2012
Originally Posted by Mummoth View Post

I'd start by asking her what 'enemy' means, she might not even know! Around that age, my son came out of school upset because someone had called him a midget... he's one of the tallest kids in the class! I'd explain the meaning and go from there, sometimes just understanding what a word means takes the power out of it or makes it less appealing. Maybe she'll change her mind about doing that. 

+1 My DH is a teacher in elementary, and this is his first step, too. Half the time, the kids don't even know what they're talking about; they just know that what they said got a rise out of someone.


That said, if she does know what it means, I would shut it down and make very clear how hurtful bullying is.

queen b's Avatar queen b 10:42 AM 12-20-2012

Thanks for the replies! The first question I asked is if she knows what an enemy is and she does. I'm trying to figure out if I should involve the teacher or other parents or if I should just work with her on it. What do others think?

tbone_kneegrabber's Avatar tbone_kneegrabber 12:40 PM 12-20-2012
As a teacher I think you should tell the teacher. It may be a symptom of a larger class dynamic. Also sometimes parents know something is going on for a long time before anyone tells the teacher and by then the parents are pissed!

Because you are the parent maker as opposed to the kid(s) on the list you have about more power to ask for it to be dealt with class wide and anonymously. The teacher can have a class meeting about bullying and being a good friend. The class can brainstorm ways that kids are sometimes bullied. Initially they usually come up with all physical stuff and it sometimes takes some prompting to get them to think about mean words, exclusion, cyber bullying etc.

I imagine the school is about to go on break and so this would be an excellent time to talk to the teacher about it. The teacher can think about what to do when school resumes. The class usually needs a rules/norms/expectation refresher after a long break anyway.
meemee's Avatar meemee 07:32 PM 12-20-2012

this is such typical behaviour in teh school yard. does not surprise me at all. it goes on all the time - without using words like enemy or creating a list. but there is always one fighting with the other and really trying to figure out social norms. 


i would not involve the teacher at all at this point. 


this is something you can help with.


figure out first what is going on. do role play. ask a bunch of questions. why is the girl on the enemy list. what is she doing that is making them mad. keep on asking a bunch of questions. would you get on the enemy list? why or why not? help her see without lecturing or feeding her the answer how painful an enemy list would be. how would she feel if she realised she was on someone else's enemy list. 


i think actually an enemy list is a great idea. for a child to figure out who they want to play with and who they dont want to. i think that's great strategy for a kid that young. all you have to do is really help her see - are the people around her truly her enemies? 


it helps children GREATLY if you speak from a different perspective. if you discuss things - without telling them - you really give them a life skill that will be so much useful in a couple of years when things get even worse. while yeah it is worse it is normal and right on. and then by 5th or 6th grade they coool down till they go off again. 


at this point of time you have no idea if that child is bullying your dd or not. 

NiteNicole's Avatar NiteNicole 06:52 AM 12-22-2012

meemee, I know you usually come from a place of trying to see the other side and maybe playing devil's advocate, but making an enemy list is NOT a good way of anything.  It is well within the range of normal, but it's the kind of thing that should be shut down quickly.   It is so easy for one child to take on the brunt of a whole classroom's bad feelings and this is one way that starts.


OP, I am surprised by how socially savvy some six and seven year old girls can be.  I truly believe being able to read and manipulate social situations is a form of giftedness.  I volunteer in the classroom almost every day and there are a few girls who have figured out how to pit other girls against each other - and usually the other girls are not as socially mature in "girl years" and are baffled as to how this all got started.  Choosing a common enemy is one way girls get other girls "on their side" and it is so SO hard for the odd girl out.


I would follow all the advice about asking a lot of questions without judgement, role playing, and asking her what it would be like if Best Friend of the Moment and Enemy Girl were to decide SHE was the enemy and put her on a list and I would make it clear that exclusion is unkind and as far as I could control the situation, I was not ok with it and would not allow it.  I don't think explaining and then hoping she'll do what you want is the way to go, I would tell her very clearly that I disapprove and that does not go along with our values as a family.

Last week when I was in the classroom, one girl actually read her friend list out loud during journal sharing before the teacher realized what she was doing.  It was 100% a calculated attack against a specific girl (the specific girl is really well liked and the list maker is a pot stirrer and is constantly trying to manipulate the other kids in the class.  It's kind of horrifying and fascinating at the same time that she's six and her mind is already three or four steps ahead of the other kids, socially).

Ragana's Avatar Ragana 07:00 AM 12-22-2012

I agree, and it doesn't have to be girls. Boys do it as well, as I saw with my DD1's bully in 2nd grade. We always told our kids that you don't have to be friends with everyone, which I think it's important for kids to know, but you do have to be respectful to everyone.

mtiger's Avatar mtiger 07:04 AM 12-22-2012

I guess a lot depends on the reasons for this list. Is your daughter being bullied? If so, then THAT is the issue that needs to be addressed.


Or... Is your daughter the bully? I don't think any parent likes to consider that option, but all bullies have parents. Who may not like to think it. If THAT is the issue? Then you need to address it.


I wouldn't tolerate it from either end, but each requires a different "fix".

meemee's Avatar meemee 08:29 AM 12-22-2012
Originally Posted by NiteNicole View Post

meemee, I know you usually come from a place of trying to see the other side and maybe playing devil's advocate, but making an enemy list is NOT a good way of anything.  It is well within the range of normal, but it's the kind of thing that should be shut down quickly.   It is so easy for one child to take on the brunt of a whole classroom's bad feelings and this is one way that starts.

Sorry NNicole. I read my pp and i realised it CAN be interpreted that i was supporting the enemy list. i am NOT supporting the enemy list. no its a terrible idea. absolutely. 


but i am focusing on HOW to stop it. that how at that age is HUGE. the strategy is important because you want to shut it down forever. for that you want your child to REALIZE that its a bad idea and stop. YOU dont tell them to stop and feed her the answers. 


esp. since her mama is shocked by this and doesnt want her dd to do this. at least with myself i find when i am absolutely horrified at what dd has done, i have a tendency to do the worst, rant and rave and lecture. the quickest way for your child to shut down. 


the reason why i have found that strategy works is because i have lived it. i have found with big issues - its best to treat it as a 'small' issue by your reactions, yet through your questioning you make your child realise what a terrible thing it is. that is why you ask 'dd, would i be on your enemy list'.


i all together have 3 childrensmile.gif dd and her two neighbor friends who literally live in our house from when they get home from school till bedtime. they even call themselves my other dds. i have to listen and watch a 10, 11, 13 and sometimes a 16 year old interact. and then have issues. i've sat at the table and initiated dialogues. dialogues of observation and how that makes them feel. i've only stepped in when needed. i've almost been moved to tears at what i've seen. 


now i am not saying wow look at me - i am superwoman. nope. what i am saying that studying non violent communication (NVC) has taught me huge life lessons. 


and the important lessons dont have to come from a fire breathing dragon, but from a realization within. 


and this problem is HUGE. huge. social interaction issues i feel is the biggest issue that i want my dd to get. if i get my child to figure out now, its a life skill i have given her. 


and it CAN be done. after a hour's conversation holding a weeping child, i have changed her desire to get mommy and daddy to beat up that child to ok i'll tell her how i feel, how hurt i was and then we can play together. 


this is a beautiful moment. so much potential. just dont bring your own issues to this table. it is not necessary. 

talktomenow's Avatar talktomenow 11:52 AM 12-22-2012
OP, my dd (age 8) is on the queen bee path. I could see her doing this. She is very popular, everyone wants to sit with her, play with her, etc. I have to talk to her about this sort of thing all the time. Really, that's my solution: constant dialogue. If I'm at her school and observe something, we talk about it later. We talk about her reasons, the other persons reasons, etc. I might ask her why a certain girl was trying to share a snack with her. She knows. She will tell me it's because that girl wants to play with her. I turn it around and try to get her to see it from the other child's perspective.

Also, I was very unpopular at school. I will occasionally bring that into the conversation. I think one of the worst things she did was at a Girl Scout meeting. I'm the leader, we meet at our house. At the end, she choose her three bffs and said they could go to her room but no one else could. Of course, I stopped that! But later, I told her that when I was a little girl, I would have been one of the excluded girls. She was upset and embarrassed by her behavior.

She is actually a very sweet girl. She just happens to be the kind of kid everyone likes. She doesn't know that she is being mean sometimes. She just sees it as she likes some people, others not as much, so she chooses who she plays with. So, again, I just have to keep the conversation going about how others might interpret her actions.
talktomenow's Avatar talktomenow 08:29 PM 12-27-2012
Mod Note: Quoted post was removed due to User Agreement violation.



Okay, I am so very sorry for saying EVERYONE. I was typing quickly. I am sure that every child in the entire universe does not love my dd. But here's the thing- my daughter is friendly, funny, and outgoing and many children do want to play with her and be her friend. That is just the way it is. I have not labeled my daughter as popular, told her she is such, or created "rotten character" in her. Certainly labeling anyone as popular or unpopular is childish idea. However, what is laughable and what I can't wrap my mind around is an adult believing that believing that these labels don't exist. My daughters go to public school. Popularity, cruelty, teasing... these are alive and well in the schools. I did not create this dynamic. My 10 year old daughter struggles with making friends. She has Aspergers and has been the target of bullies. My 15 year old stepdaughter has been on both ends at various schools. 


I suppose I could live in denial and pretend that everyone is treated equally at all times. I could turn a blind eye to the kids that bully my 10 year old. I could pretend that some/ many (but certainly not ALL thumb.gif) children want to play with my 8 year old, and that she is not always aware of how her actions may come off. But see, I live in reality. I certainly never tell my 8 year old that she is popular. I'm not an idiot. As I said in my previous post, I was terribly unpopular in school. Furthermore, I was a high school teacher until last year. I am aware of the realities of life for children in school. I am trying to be a good mother and stay on top of these things. I do not want my 8 year old to become the type of girl who is mean to other girls. I am teaching her, and all my children, to be kind above all. And, as a responsible mother, that includes discussing the real-life situations my children are experiencing.


Finally, picking a few words out of a post that was meant to be helpful to a mother in what may be a similar situation? Believe me, I know how saying popular sounds... it is triggering to many people. But I was trying to give advice through my situation. Your language is disrespectful and unnecessary. I'm trying to prevent my daughter from being unkind to others and share my experience, and you are online being unkind to me for doing so. Hmmm... Now *that* is something I can't wrap my mind around. 

NiteNicole's Avatar NiteNicole 09:26 PM 12-27-2012

I have no idea what makes one kid popular and another not but I never have.  I can tell you that I noticed as early as kindergarten that some kids attract other children and some do not.  Some of the popular kids are funny and outgoing and some are kind of mean and demanding.  Some just seem sort of like average kids - I guess there is some indefinable thing that some kids (and adults) just have.  I volunteer in my daughter's first grade class and there is one "cute" boy that all the kids want to be friends with, one silly boy that they all love, one kind of mean girl they all try to gain favor with, and one sweet and kind of motherly girl whose approval they all seek. My own daughter is none of these kids, despite being kind and friendly.  She is somewhere in the middle of the pack and totally clueless that a pecking order is being established at all.  Through various parties, filed trips, and volunteer hours, it hasn't taken any of the parents long to figure out the dynamics.  Its hard not to notice if other kids seem to gravitate toward or away from your child.

talktomenow's Avatar talktomenow 09:57 PM 12-27-2012
NiteNicole, excellent point. There is no way to know what makes certain people popular. It's not about being funny or friendly... I have no idea what it's about, honestly.