02-09-2023 08:13 AM - edited 02-09-2023 08:18 AM
My 5th grade daughter has been struggling with the behavior of her best friend for a while now. When it is just the two of them things seem okay, but the girl will exclude her when they are in a group setting by ignoring her, telling her to go away, or telling her there is no room for her. She even asked the teacher to move her seat away from hers. She has been sending mean texts to for a while now and and reacts with jealousy and anger when something good happens to my daughter. We happen to be very close with her parents and have attempted to manage it on our own by coaching our daughter through it, which has seemed to keep things somewhat at bay up until now.
A few months ago the girl started telling the friend group that my daughter has been talking behind their backs (my daughter maintains that this is untrue); when my daughter spoke up and said she was hurt, the girl proceeded to cry and had a large group of their friends gather around her (she is very popular). After that day almost their entire friend group excluded her and would not speak to her. Even a friend who was experiencing the same treatment whom my daughter supported has sided with this girl.
Every time my daughter tries to make a new friend this girl invites the friend to their group and my daughter is again isolated. I finally had a discussion with her mother. The girl denied everything and the mom is angry with me and believes that her daughter has done nothing wrong. My question is, should I cease all contact with this girl knowing that it will continue to cause my daughter social exclusion? The girl's mother keeps extending invites despite me voicing my concerns. I can see that my daughter is trying to hold healthy boundaries, which I am very proud of, but I also don't want her to continue to be the target of this behavior.
I don't want to send the message that she should take this treatment, but I see now that this girl holds a lot of social capital and can make my daughter's life awful at school (it is a small private school). We are even to the point of moving our daughter back to public school to have a fresh start where this girl doesn't hold as much influence.
Thanks very much.
02-09-2023 01:10 PM - edited 02-09-2023 01:12 PM
Hi there @Mo_81
I'm very saddened to read about your daughters' experience. I can only imagine how it feels for you to watch this situation with her best friend unfold, particularly the groupthink that tends to kick in with friendship struggles. It sounds like you've raised a level-headed and resilient person - but one can only take so much!
The added complexity of your existing relationship with the family must make this hard to navigate, too. Your questions about whether to cease contact and your concern about further social exclusion are valid considerations. I'm curious to know if you have anyone in your life to unpack this with. A partner, friend or family member?
Bullying and friendship group dynamics can make a deep impact, and I'm wondering if you've considered arranging a counsellor or psychologist to chat with your daughter? It must be heartbreaking for your daughter to lose the friendship she once had with this girl.
We are an Australian-based service, so unfortunately, we don't have as much information about possible support services for you. However, I found this website with some information that may come in handy. Also, I thought sharing some of the resources about bullying might be helpful.
This page has a number of articles for parents supporting their child through bullying.
Let us know what you think and know that we're here to continue talking this through with you.
02-10-2023 02:04 AM - edited 02-10-2023 02:10 AM
Thank you so much for your reply. Thankfully, I do have a very supportive spouse and a wonderful group of parents who I have been able to lean on. Hearing you validate my daughter's experience is very impactful, especially after the mother has made us and my daughter feel as if we are overreacting or being untruthful.
The positive thing that has come from this is that my daughter has communicated to me that she is thankful for the support we have offered. I think that we are closer now than we have ever been. I feel grateful that she is continuing to open up to us and that she feels confident enough to leave behind a friendship that has been unhealthy for a long while now. I agree that talking to someone can giver her the added support that she may need to navigate this. I will definitely take a look at the resource that you offered. Your kind words mean a lot!
Thank you very much:-)
02-10-2023 03:44 PM
Hi @Mo_81 it's lovely to hear from you!
It makes me smile to read how your and your daughters' relationship has grown throughout this experience. During the tough times life throws at us, sometimes the best we can hope for is that the significant relationships we have with others can carry us through. It sounds like you are providing a soft place for your daughter to land as she navigates things. Well done to you both!
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