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OT: Help! Long re:my daughter and my friend's daughter...

Forum: Attachment Parenting


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February 12th, 2013, 10:06 PM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 6,905
Warning: Long Post.

I need a little help with something. Not entirely AP related, but thought you mamas could help me most. I want to start with the preface that I have, for lack of a better way of putting it, social communication issues. These issues affect me more when I’m face-to-face or on the phone than online, but it does affect me in ALL social arenas to some degree. I think it’s a combination of feeling compelled to be honest, while trying to be positive and not hurt anyone’s feelings, and not having any social finesse (so, I think to some this comes across as passive aggressive, but anyone who knows me really well can tell you I am actually more confrontation-aversive than aggressive in any way. Which is actually why I’m struggling so much with this situation I’m in.

My daughter is in gymnastics with a team of girls she’s been with for about a year and a half. She loves every girl on the team and says they are ALL her best friends. At the same time, she *generally* is more focused on gymnastics than socializing. It seems to be an overall good balance for her. However, my daughter living in a house with two special needs children has definitely affected her in some ways. One of which is not being great about problem solving, maybe because a lot of problem solving skills we use are designed to be used with children who DON’T have special needs, which is why more recently we’ve been telling her to go through the steps (we came up with an easy 1,2,3 process for her, with step 3 being come to me to help her mediate.) This is new. Up to this point, when she gets mad at someone she crosses her arms and gets a REALLY HUGE attitude with them. Now, a year ago, this would happen MULTIPLE times in her one hour gymnastics class. Now she goes to gymnastics 2 hours at a time 3 times a week and it happens MAYBE once a month at most (really, I think maybe it’s happened twice in the last 6 months, aside from what I’ll talk about coming up). So there has been major improvement.

Last Wednesday, I’m talking to one of the moms I am pretty close to. Her daughter that is my daughter’s age (6) is also on the team and her other daughter just got added to the team maybe 2-3 months ago? She’s about 10 years old, if I had to guess. Well, her daughter came up to us and said my daughter stepped on her foot. Well, the way she said it, it sounded like a malicious act! So when my daughter came up (looking grumpy and mean) I was like, “Hey, what happened?” and the other girl is again like “She stepped on my foot!” (upset) and my daughter is like, “It was an accident!” (angry—because my daughter expresses upset as anger, which is something we’re working on but that’s another story for another day.) Anyway, I’m like, “Did you apologize?” and my daughter said, “She wouldn’t let me!”

To be honest, at first I thought the problem was my daughter. It wasn’t until yesterday that I realized what MIGHT really be going on. And knowing that that might be, I’m looking back on that situation and seeing that my daughter was mad because this girl was basically trying to get her in “trouble” for an ACCIDENT, that she KNEW was an accident. I also realize that this girl might not have necessarily had those intentions—I’m just speaking from what I could see a 6 year old’s point of view being in this scenario. But remember, it wasn’t until Monday that I considered any of this, before it starts to sound like I’m Little Mrs. Assumptions.

Now let’s hop over to Friday. I go to pick up my daughter and the mom friend comes up to me and say, “I guess your daughter had a problem tonight.” Turns out she walked away from the table when they had a break for pizza and ate by herself. Right now I’m thinking, really? I’m just shocked because at this point, I’m like . . . two classes in a row? This is the more like my daughter from TWO YEARS ago. What’s going on? I’m wondering if it’s something to do with me being pregnant, which is weird because my daughter was the one who wanted me to get pregnant in the first place (of course I wanted it to) and she comes with me to EVERY appointment and never wants me to go without her. She loves babies. And I’ve given her tons of extra attention because I would never want her to feel replaced. And I don’t think she does AT ALL. But I just don’t know what else to think!

So I get in the car and talk to my daughter about it and she tells me “They were throwing popcorn and telling me to clean it up! So I walked away.” So I’m thinking, well, actually . . . that sounds like she made the right choice to me! But I get another problem was this girl was also purposefully trying to distract my daughter while she was doing bars, and it was frustrating my daughter. I did tell her that is part of the sport (noise while you compete) and you have to learn to block it out. And normally she does. So I think it’s more that my daughter asked them to stop and they KEPT doing it, which to her probably seemed malicious but in reality probably wasn’t at all. Fast forward to Monday again for a second, where I find out from another mom that yes, my daughter did eat dinner alone. I also heard the full “popcorn .tory”. Which was that the girls got in “trouble” (verbally reprimanded is all) for throwing the popcorn and told to clean it up. So this mom asked her daughter, “You got in trouble today for throwing popcorn, huh?” and her daughter said, “I didn’t do it. (GIRL) did it!” (girl being the girl my daughter had a problem with on Wednesday and who “tattled” on my daughter on Friday, for what turned out to be nothing to tattle ON in the first place…

Anyway, then on Monday, this same girl comes up to me and says, “Your daughter pushed me for no reason!” (Now I’m thinking, really? NO REASON? None at all . . . ? This is when my spidey senses went off, because my daughter NEVER does ANYTHING without being provoked—it’s just not her personality. However, she does act inappropriately when provoked, which was the first thing I dealt with). When my daughter comes up to me, I said, “What happened?” She told me that another girl cut her in line and then (GIRL who’s being complaining) was being mean to her and not letting her get water after that and “siding” with this other girl (let’s call her C.) As this is happening, another little girl runs up to her mom and says C was being mean to her, but her and C used to be best friends! We come to find out that since GIRL has joined the team, C has been more friends with GIRL and less friends with other girl, even “laughing” at her about things (teasing). Which is VERY unlike C! Meanwhile, C and GIRL are the best “listeners” in the class, so you can only imagine how this looks to the adults involved, outside the parents who are seeing what I’m seeing… anyway, after my daughter told me what happened I told her a few things.

1) It’s NEVER okay to push anyone. If you have a problem you can’t solve with your words, find an adult to help you solve the problem.
2) If someone is being mean to you, stay away from there. You are here for gymnastics, not for them!
3) We will start bringing a water bottle for you to keep in your cubby, like your friend A does, and you don’t have to worry about the water fountain anymore (seems to be a problem for ALL the girls on the team every time they get a water break...)

Anyway, at this point, I know I can only deal with my OWN daughter. I’m focusing on MY daughter’s behavior, and her responses haven’t been what I want them to be, but I know she’ll learn. I do feel bad because it seems a bit like GIRL is trying to get her in trouble and not always telling the whole story. And her mom thinks she is an angel . . . and I thought she was too, until recently.

Of course I should know that NO child is a perfect angel. They all make mistakes or do things they shouldn’t, and that’s part of growing up. I’m not mad at this girl and I don’t think she’s the problem. However, I’m getting the impression that HER mom DOES think that MY daughter is the problem… Because she keeps bringing things up to me. I mean, maybe it’s just in a “I thought you’d want to know” kind of way (which I do) but it also feels a bit like “your daughter is being mean to my perfect daughter who did absolutely nothing wrong” . . . which doesn’t seem to exactly be the case… so, I feel a bit like she’s judging me without even realizing she has no room to judge. BUT she’s my friend, too, and maybe I’m misreading that, and whether I am or not, I feel like it WON’T help for me to be like, “Well actually your daughter is provoking my daughter” (and again, don’t think she’d believe me anyway because her daughter is a perfect angel to her…).

Where I need help is what do I do the next time her mom is telling me the wrongs of my daughter I need to fix. I mean, I DO need to fix what my daughter does, but I also would like to see the trigger go away (not the Girl, just the provoking). But I know I can’t voice what I’m realizing her. I don’t want to make a big problem out of it but I don’t want it to become a big problem for my daughter either. I was thinking of just simply saying, “My daughter told me (abc—ie, tell her what my daughter says provoked her, but say it in a neutral factual way), and I handled it by (xyz—ie, how I corrected MY daughter’s behavior).” Is that okay or a terrible idea? Should I just keep biting my tongue?
I did talk to the coaches about it so they can keep an eye on it. I’m also going to encourage my daughter to go to the coaches if she has a problem because I think it would be better, since it’s happening at the gym, if the coaches talked with both girls and helped them work through it. Because I can help MY daughter, but I can’t help my friend’s daughter or tell her she needs to! But, the coaches could TOTALLY run problem solving, and there would be not biases (ie, my bias from my love for my daughter or my friend’s bias from her love for her daughter).

Any ideas, feedback, etc, would be welcome here. We have a plan for avoiding the problem. We have a plan for how my daughter needs to learn to handle this. We have the coaches involved because that seems most appropriate. But HOW do I handle the friend when she’s coming to me to tell me her daughter’s most recent complaint about my daughter (which is often one-sided).
Thank you Jaidynsmum for the beautiful siggy!
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February 13th, 2013, 06:00 AM
TheOnlyPink's Avatar .... In a house of blue!
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Ireland
Posts: 9,071
Am I right in thinking that your daughter is 6? My son is 5 and have some experience of this type of thing!

What I usually do is laugh it off initially. Say something like "oh kids, theres a pair of them in it!" or something like that, that acknowledges your child did something wrong, but not leaving out the fact that hers did too. Its not all your responsibility.
More often than not it works, because it doesnt get the other parents back up about you blaming their kid, but it also points out to them that they have a part to play too.

If it continues then maybe you need to talk to your daughter about how to handle herself when the other girl starts picking on her. She needs to handle it herself, and show confidence to this other girl. It sounds like she is a right little bully, and in my experience getting my son to stand up for himself calmly had the most effect.

For example there was a boy at school who was telling him he couldnt play with him. Jake was getting really upset about it, the teacher had a chat with the other boy and it was still happening. So I told jake to just turn to him calmly and ask who made him in charge of the playground? That he only listens to grown ups telling him what to do. The teacher told me he pretty much said it word for word. Other boy was speechless and we havent had a problem since.

If all else fails, tell her not to react, say nothing and just come right over. Dont give the other girl anything to tell tales about.

I hope that helps and you get it sorted!
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February 13th, 2013, 08:01 AM
Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 6,057
I would just tell your friend that you know your daughter and her 10 yr old have been having conflicts, it has been discussed with the coaches and they have an eye on it, so there's no need to get into who said what and what today's little spat was, it is under control and you are well aware of the whole situation including your daughter's perspective. I would have a tone of like "end of discussion" about it and just refuse to talk about it any more. The 10 yr old is using her mom to keep the drama going and cause more discomfort for your daughter and you need to just shut it down. I would worry less about staying buddy-buddy with the mom than about that. Hope that helps. It sounds like you have a good handle on the rest of the situation!

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February 13th, 2013, 08:28 AM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 6,905
Thank you both for your feedback. That helps a ton <3 This kind of things always stresses me way out. When I was talking to the coaches I was shaking. Not because I was angry but because I hated even going to them about it. It made me anxious and stressed It's our first time dealing with this, too. My daughter is pretty much friends with EVERYONE she meet. My main focus is of course getting HER to respond the right way in these situations, because that IS in her control. I'd like the kids to become friends, but I know I can't control that. But I like the advice on how to deal with the mom. I don't want this to turn into a "well your kid did/said this" type thing. I know she's saying those things to me but basically, that would be like fighting fire with fire (not smart!) which is why I want to be calm and non-accusatory about it, but I definitely don't want to be like "oh yeah, my daughter is a problem, all by herself." because I feel like that's not fair or respectful toward my daughter to join in with someone else putting all the blame on her. anyway, your responses really helped me with how to deal with this <3
Thank you Jaidynsmum for the beautiful siggy!
Check out the Attachment Parenting Board for Effective Parenting Solutions.
PM me if have questions about autism, TTC gender swaying, natural childbirth, going "vaccine-free", or if you are looking for gentle discipline advice.
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February 13th, 2013, 08:47 AM
ashj_1218's Avatar Hiya!
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 11,971
I think I, too, would say something along the lines of "oh no, not again, it seems our gals are a lively pair together."

Honestly though, if she doesn't think her kid is ever part of the problem, chances are that she isn't going to suddenly start thinking so even if you subtly hint at it. Even if you blatantly said "Your kid is just as much a part of the problem as mine is," I don't think she would believe it. Normally, she would already know that her kid is playing a part in it and work with her child as well on her behavior.

I think your method of helping your daughter handle the situation better and alerting the coaches to the issues at hand are the best way of going about it. I truly think you are taking the right actions. And if the mom keeps mentioning your daughters "slights" at practice, I think I would eventually (like if the subtle hints don't get through) say something like "why don't we let the coaches fill me in on the details, I prefer to get both sides of the story at once."
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February 13th, 2013, 09:07 AM
alittlelost's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Jul 2012
Posts: 6,905
Yeah, I guess if it came down to that, I could say something about the coaches handling it. Like maybe, "seems the girls both have their own idea of things so I'm letting the coaches deal with any conflicts and when they let me know my daughter's part I'll deal with her also." or something like that.

I hope I just don't freeze up and word something poorly. It's always harder on the spot!
Thank you Jaidynsmum for the beautiful siggy!
Check out the Attachment Parenting Board for Effective Parenting Solutions.
PM me if have questions about autism, TTC gender swaying, natural childbirth, going "vaccine-free", or if you are looking for gentle discipline advice.
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February 13th, 2013, 10:23 AM
ohnicole's Avatar Platinum Supermommy
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 5,756
I think that telling the coaches about the situation is really the best way to handle it- you shouldn't have to feel like it's your job to let the other mom know what her daughter is doing. And I also think you're doing a great job of teaching your daughter more appropriate ways to respond to what sounds like flat out bullying. I also liked the suggestion that you could tell your daughter some calm, respectful ways to stand up to the bullying.

If the mom brings it up to you again, you could always take the super nice approach and say that since this is an ongoing problem between the two girls, and you want to make sure that your daughter is treating the other girl appropriately, you asked the coaches to keep an eye out and let you and the other mom know if they see any inappropriate behavior.

That way, you don't have to really get involved in telling her that her daughter is the bully, and she will also have a heads up for when the coaches may come to tell her that her daughter is behaving inappropriately.
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