Every once in a while, I answer questions anonymously from parents seeking advice. One parent asked about bullying and what she should do. Here’s her question
What do you do when your daughter’s best friend might be bullying her?
My answer: This happened to my daughter and she was terrified to stop being friends with the girl because she thought she would bully her more or make everyone stop playing with her, which she did. This first grader was a master manipulator; extremely sophisticated for her age; she had my daughter going in circles. She cried about all the horrible things she did to her and then cried at the thought of not being her best friend. I was a tough cookie growing up and although they tried, no one dared to try twice to bully me, so it was frustrating to see my daughter let this little girl bully her to tears and was almost paralyzed with fear to do anything about it.
I think the thing that made it all the more frustrating is when the little girl pretended to be playing around while wrestling with my daughter and it got serious; my daughter ended up beating the little girl up yet remained emotionally and psychologically imprisoned by her. That’s when I realized, it wasn’t the fear of the little girl that was the problem, it was the lack of confidence, self-esteem, and resilience in my daughter, so that’s what I worked on.
It took awhile, but my daughter was bold enough to break away from her and did it without any physical or emotional retaliation. The girls went to school together through the eight grade and although they never really became friends, the bullying stopped and they were cordial. Looking back, I do believe the girl not only admired my daughter, but was envious of her and all of the attention she received from everyone (my daughter was one of those “perfect” kids, all the teachers praised her behavior, all the kids liked her, she got great grades, was very talented and won roles in plays and performances, and was extremely nice and kind).
She wanted my daughter all to herself and she did what it took to make her believe she was her friend, by protecting her against others, bringing her gifts to school, drawing her pictures and other nice gestures. But, she also wanted my daughter knocked down a few notches and to let her know she had control over her when she would throw wood-chips at her on the playground, steal from her and try to encourage others to laugh at her after she pushed her!
Kids can (and will) be cruel (as well as adults), so you have to make sure your daughter knows her self-worth and knows she has the right to remove people from his life that doesn’t treat her with kindness and respect. Sometimes we stay in relationships because they are comfortable and we’re afraid we aren’t good enough or worthy enough for something better. Work on her and she’ll work out the situation.
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