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3 yr. old acting out towards an old friend, Mom (my friend!) is concerned!

618 Views 9 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  lilsishomemade
I have been friends with another Mommy who lives down the street from me for quite some time. She has two little girls around the same age as my two girls. Up until now, her almost 4 yr. old and my 3 yr. old have been getting along great with only your typical sharing disagreements here and there, typical of all children that age.

Recently, my 3 yr. old has found a new friend that she is really enjoying playing with. Since my dd has found this new friend, she has started acting out towards her old friend and being really mean to her when we all get together. When we are alone at home, dd tells me she doesn't like her anymore and that she doesn't want to see her. It's gotten to the point where she doesn't even want us to drive by her house anymore (which is sometimes very difficult being that we all live so close to each other!). I've been talking to her off and on about it, but I haven't made a huge deal of it as I was thinking it was just a phase she'll outgrow. But, now my dd hasn't been wanting to hug her old friend goodbye and they always used to. Her friend is now telling my dd that she doesn't "ever, never want to see her again if she doesn't hug or kiss her goodbye", and this, of course, put my dd on the defensive. And sometimes while they are playing, my dd will tell her to "go away". Over the past week, it's happened with every one of our visits!

Last night, my Mommy friend called me concerned about my dd's behavior towards her dd. She told me that after our last get together, her dd was crying and really upset. I guess her dd thinks my dd doesn't like her anymore and that my dd doesn't want to be her friend. Her dd is feeling really rejected. We talked a lot about the differences between our two girls. My dd has always been a very confident, assertive child. There isn't too much that gets her down, she can move on very easily from most hurtful episodes, whatever they may be (just a sidenote: I'm more AP than my Mommy friend, although my friend is still an admirable mother, we just have different limits). Her dd is generally a more emotionally timid, quieter child, and also has a lower energy output than my dd. These differences though have never seemed to be a problem, until recently. My friend suggested we give the girls a break for a week and we're each going to talk to our dds as best we can about friends, expectations, etc. As much as they can understand. We thought we'd read each of our girls books to help them understand the dynamics of a young friendship. I'm suspecting that my friends dd is ultrasensitive, and that my dd is having a hard time sorting out her new friend with her old friend in her emotional world. Since her 3rd birthday, her emotional world has blossomed and her sense of self is becoming very strong. My friends dd also seems to be very idealistic, as most children are, and is having a hard time understanding that my dd doesn't always want a hug, want to play what she plays, etc.

So, this is really breaking my heart. I hate the fact that my child is causing so much hurt in another child, but at the same time, I know my child just wants her space, even if just for that given moment. I also want to spend time with my friend and we don't want this to interfere with our friendship.

Have any of you Mamas had a similar situation and do you have any suggestions?

Ladybug Mama to two beautiful girls, (3 yrs. & 18 mos.), and wife to crazy freefalling DH.
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No advice, just {{{hugs}}}
That sounds like a rough situation to deal with. Hopefully you'll get some good btdt replies.
My ds is highly sensitive. In hindsight, I think I should have limited playdates with certain friends. He would often be so distraught and I kept thinking he would learn to have fun. It created a lot of "teachable" moments and we did a lot of roleplaying to help him stand up to more assertive children. I just wish I had waited until he was 5 or so before forcing him to get together with kids he didn't totally get along with. I liked the other mom's company so that was a driving force for the playdates.
So I guess I agree with your friend that they need a break from each other.
Your child is not intentionally hurting her friend, she is just being honest and that too, imo, deserves to honoured.
Sounds alot like jr. high girls!!!
Wow... the emotional dynamics of girls is so amazing. It makes me think of grades 5,6 and 7!
I know it's hard because you want to stay friends and it sounds to me like a very close friendship you have. That being said you could treat this like a family situation. Your girls are obviously around each other alot and kids will inevidably act like siblings and go through stages...sometimes fighting, sometimes being mean, being sensitive, sorting through and practicing for real life. They both need these experiences to shape them into the people they will be.KWIM? It's's just the first of many years of conflict in your daughters life(sorry to say!). Your job is to help your dd through this. Some parents will save their child from the experience ( remove your dd from the situation...thus allowing your friendship with your friend to deteriorate), some parents allow their child to learn on her own(let the kids fight it out, allow them to go through their painful emotions) and some parents take an active role and help their child learn throught the experience( you, your dd, your friend and her dd take some time to re-establish your friendship by all doing something together like making a big bucket of soapy water and creating giant bubbles:something that requires you all to be interactive on the same level).
YOu'll work through this Momma! If your friendship is important to you than you have to...When my kids fight I can't just get my dh to move out of the house for a week to give them a break(although that sure would be nice sometimes)we have to work it out. And if this is a keeper friend then your dds need to find ways to be in each others lives...
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I think this is the kind of thing that sorts itself out. They are so young. My ds is 6, as is my nieghbors son. Her and I are good friends, but those two decided last fall that they didn't like each other anymore. Her and I chatted about it and we both had the attitude that we wouldn't push either one of them. They didn't talk to each other for 6 months! They just recently started being friends again. And, they seem to be better friends than they ever were. Granted, they are boys, so they are much less sensitive about it all.

But, her and I are both AP and both practice gd, so we were on the same page. We knew it was something they had to sort out on their own.

Honestly, I think that if your dd doesn't want to be her friend right now, you should honor that. For whatever reason, she is not clicking with her. Give her some space. Who knows, maybe the other girl did or said something that really bugged your dd. You need to let her use her own insticts when it comes to the friendships she will have. Since you and her mom are good friends, I am sure they will get over it soon.

Really, the other mom telling you that her dd was upset by it all is borderline emotional blackmail to me. While you want your dd to learn to be respectful of others and to not do anything intentional to hurt anothers feelings, she is not the keeper of their feelings. If she prefers another playmate right now, then that is her choice.

Also, when it comes to kissing and hugging someone else, even another child, she needs to make those decisions herself. If she feels uncomfortable for whatever reason, then she does not need to do it. And, the other mom telling you that it hurt her dd's feelings is innappropriate, in my book. She should be telling her dd that not everyone wants to hug and kiss her goodbye all the time. Frankly, she shouldn't expect it - even from other children.

Just some things to think about...
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What stuck out about your post is the other girl demanding a hug or else she didn't want to be friends. That's manipulative.

However, I agree with other poster who said that these things sort themselves out. The girls are little still (3?) and they are learning what it takes to "be" and "have" a friend. I also think a break is a good idea. Let your daughter explore her new friendship for a little while without the demands from the other friendship. It can be so overwhelming!

Originally Posted by PumpkinSeeds
What stuck out about your post is the other girl demanding a hug or else she didn't want to be friends. That's manipulative.

However, I agree with other poster who said that these things sort themselves out. The girls are little still (3?) and they are learning what it takes to "be" and "have" a friend. I also think a break is a good idea. Let your daughter explore her new friendship for a little while without the demands from the other friendship. It can be so overwhelming!
Gosh, ladies, thank you so much for all your responses. This last post really made me think about a few things. It put into perspective the conversation I had with my friend. And I have been feeling really defensive about it, like she expects me to do something really proactive about it. I have seen her dd act really mean towards my child as well, and they do act like siblings for the most part lately, which is really understandable. If I had seen my dd start acting like that with all children and people in general, then we would have a huge problem. And, as far as the hug thing, I, too am a little uncomfortable with that always being an expectation. My friend tends to be really overprotective to the point where she sometimes seems blind to the typical phases children go through. Even when my own girls fight, I sometimes let them sort it out, even though they are young, they are suprisingly able to do this lots of times. Only when it gets physical or exceptionally verbally abusive do I intervene. So, you've all given me a lot to think about and I really do appreciate it! I was freaking out that I wouldn't be able to hang out with my friend ever again! You know how your mind goes a little nutty when you're home all alone with young children? Thanks for all your advice!

Ladybug Mama to two beautiful girls, (3 yrs. & 18 mos.), and wife to crazy freefalling DH.

Seasons of Cosleeping:

...dd1 ... dd2 ... me with both ... me with dd2 ... dh with dd1
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I think I can relate, if you take your friend's child out of the picture. My friend's DD, at about 3, started REALLY asserting what she wanted. And quite often what she wanted was me, GONE. I visisted too much, in her opinion, and that peeved her b/c she wanted to play with her mom or other people.

I figured it was normal. I'm the oldest of 5, and all the sibs seemed to go through that at some point. Especially with the youngest three, b/c I'm so much older than them, it would often turn on me, telling me to go home. Or maybe it's just me.

Anyway, I think it's pretty normal. It feels bad, b/c it's hurting the other girl's feelings, and it's keeping you from seeing your friend. My friend and I did slow down our visits for awhile, and at the time that was a bummer, but really, when you see each other that often you're not really talking about anything of substance, you're just blathering. Or maybe that's just me.

As the friend's DD got older, she changed out of that "go home now!!!" phase and was able to have multiple friends. I think that might be part of it too...I don't remember being able to have more than one or two friends at a time, like the differences between them were too much?

I don't know that the other girl was emotionally blackmailing, and I don't think your friend is, either. They are both communicating their thoughts and feelings, which is good! If the other girl wants to hug and is used to a hug, then it *hurts* her to not receive it. She'll either realize that not everyone hugs and get over it, or will in the future only make friends with people who will hug.
Kids get really used to what they are used to, if that makes any sense beyond the obvious. Each of my friends had different routines, and if I'd come in to babysit and did something different, ooh boy that was not just different, it was WRONG and had to be changed. So if the other girl is used to hugs, then no hugs feels WRONG to her. It's probably just what she's used to. As for your girl not wanting it, well, she's just different. I have had a friend all my life who stands FAR too close while talking (made worse by bad breath, at least as a child). It bothered me, but never too much to end the friendship or even talk to her about it (though once I started singing The Police's "dont stand (so close to me)" while she was talking to me). She wanted to stand close, I didn't, we were just different people.

Anyway, it's complicated b/c of the two women and two kids thing, but if my experience with my friend's girl is anything to go by, it's pretty normal for her to start setting those "go home! I don't want to see that person!" limits.
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Another tool: look in the library for age appropriate books about friends and different kinds of friends, maybe ask the librarian. A copy of Frost's 'make new friends but keep the old, those are silver, these are gold', for toddlers, kwim?
Really, I agree with Molly in that I got the feeling that the child was not necessarily emotionally blackmailing, but when your daughter decided she didn't want to give hugs anymore, it kinda hurt because that's what they ALWAYS used to do, kwim? And, I see the mom calling you as being concerned about it. She sees her daughter crying and hurt, and wants your imput, too. Of course, you're the one in the situation, I'm just telling you what I think from the bit you were able to explain. Sounds like you and she have a close relationship and she feels comfortable communicating these things with you...

I'd use it as a teaching situation. Talk about how it's okay to have personal boundaries, and that she should never feel pressured into giving affection. Also, how to be conscious (sp?) about other's feelings, and how to treat people, whether they're our best friend or not.
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