When other girls are mean, is it really JUST a Personality Clash?
What would you do when your 5-year-old comes home everyday with tales of ‘C says I’m naughty but I’m not!’ ‘C says I smell’ ‘C always tells on me’ ‘C doesn’t want to play with me’….
We have generally encouraged Georgia to avoid playing with C, “Play with someone else” we say; “Ignore her, if she wants to be nasty you don’t have to play with her”.
But I remember being nine, in Standard 3 in primary school and always having ‘trouble’ with one particular girl.
Even at that age, I thought she was mean, conniving and generally not very nice, she told lies with the sweetest smile ever; but looking at her you’d never have guessed it – she was cute and sweet and very pretty, and for some bizzare reason, for that one particular year our paths always crossed and we always had run-ins; in short, for a while, she was the bane of my life!
I think eventually I learnt to avoid her, choosing other friends to play with, and as we got older (we stayed in the same school) but we got placed in different classes, based on different subject choices, and thankfully I didn’t ever have quite another experience like that throughout the rest of my school life!
Now I must admit, I’m not very good at confrontation – being a typical ‘Rabbit’ through and through, I seek to avoid any form of confrontation if remotely possible; so lucky for me then, but now that I find myself older, I am none the wiser in dealing with issues of this type – and it frustrates me no end that I can’t help Georgia navigate this minefield of ‘female-dom’ any better.
In the run-up to Christmas (2010) last year, C kept being mentioned, and it was always in the context of, ‘C says my angel costume isn’t as pretty as hers’; ‘C says I’m naughty but I’m not’ ‘C says my angel wings are ugly’; by all accounts, C sounded like one ‘not very nice’ child. But I know Georgia, and much as I love her, I do know she can most of the time stand up for herself and give as good as she gets, usually, which makes her no angel either.
So my responses then, were along the lines of ‘Why did she say that?’ ‘What did you do?’ (Typical of me (!) -to expect that my child must have been nasty to warrant such comments) It progressively got to the point where it was upsetting her so much she didn’t want to go to school!
So I had a word with her Class teacher and mentioned that Georgia was upset at C’s behaviour. Her general response was ‘I hear what you’re saying but it’s the end of term and they are all tired and grouchy, but we will keep and eye on it’, and so I left it at that.
We had a C-free Christmas and New Year but when the new term started, the C stories generally started again. It was half-way through the term when I found out from another mum, that Georgia was not C’s only target! It was a thankful revelation, a bit like a solidarity, even if it technically was a solidarity of being victims.
Armed with this little store of knowledge, and the C stories continuing at home, I talked to her teacher once more and this time came away with this response ‘There really is just a personality clash. They are both strong characters and both very similar.’
The peace-maker in me reigned – I left it at that, fuming and rather annoyed but saying no more.
We occassionally have a week free of C-mentions and I claim those as my weeks of calm. Generally though, C has been a constant virtual visitor in our house every day, and we have repeated our advice ‘Play with someone else’ ‘Ignore what she says’ over and over until yesterday the penny dropped.
It finally occurred to me, that maybe Georgia wasn’t tell us to ask for help in ‘solving’ the situation, she just wanted us to listen!
So today, when the C stories started again, we listened, and we encouraged her to think of ways she could feel better and deal with C better.
I keep wondering though, is this the best we can do? Do the realities of life, of there being unkind, nasty people in the world, really have to start at age 5?
Have you encountered this? How did you deal with it? Any advice, thoughts or comments would be gratefully received!
© 2011, Li-ling. All rights reserved.
Unfortunately, I don’t think there is much more you can do. But know, that having your support likely means that this will be a building experience for Georgia rather than a crushing one. I had a bully all the way through school from the age of 7 and though it never stopped, my mum standing by me, listening and empathising meant so much. That girl made me so miserable in many ways but she couldn’t touch my self-esteem. I hope for the same for Georgia.
I’m so sorry to hear about your bully but what great support and belief you must have had to not let affect you and your self-esteem – well done to your mum! 🙂
I think you are right in that there isn’t much more I can do except give her the support and hopefully some tools with which to deal with this.
Thanks very much for sharing!
Hi there, thanks for dropping by my blog. I thought I pop by to check out yours and am pleasantly surprised to read a few of your very thought-provoking posts. I love them!
I like this post and can empathize with you. What your child has experienced sounds like a form of bullying. Girls tend to bully others in this way, compared to the more physical form of bullying by boys. It is so easy for educators and some parents to just shrug it all off as ‘personality clashes’ or child’s innocent play and that the ‘bully’ really means no harm.
I think you are on the right track to help your child, especially with lending her a listening ear. Sometimes 5 and 6 years old kids may not really know what kind of help they wish parents can provide, so it may be a little too passive to wait till our kids tell us how they want us to help them out. But being always available to listen to their problems is important and to always believe their side of story is important (of course sometimes some degree of investigations are necessary to learn the true picture).
It is a good practice too to discuss and brainstorm with our child on ways that he/she can try to handle the problem. By doing so regularly with them, they learn to take control, or at least start to take some control instead of feeling helpless and overwhelmed. Feeling empowered to find ways to solve his/her own problems is an important way to help the child build his self-esteem, which is usually a key factor to fight the negative feelings that surround a bullying victim.
My older child, now 6, has been experiencing different forms of bullying in schools from time to time and it is hard for me to deal with too. But I do insist that the teachers take on a more active role in dealing with the situations, especially since the situations happened in school. So I would keep the dialogue open with the teachers. At home, I do all the above with my boy. It is not easy but I see it as inevitable too. It is part of growing up and I tell myself (and him) that it is an opportunity for him to learn to deal with negativities and he will emerge stronger.
All the best to you and Georgia! Sorry for the long-winded post.
Hi DomesticGoddess, I’m glad you enjoy the read, parenting can sometimes seem like such a challenge, it helps to share doesn’t it? 🙂
Thank you so much for your support, it’s so good to know that we are not alone, and things like that happen – all the way around the other side of the World.
I’m sorry to hear about your 6 year old having to deal with bullying – some part of me feels that it’s so unnecessary for children this young to have to deal with issues like that, and yet on the other hand, this is what the world is like, and we are all different.
You’re absolutely right and I’m sure he will emerge stronger and knowing that you’ll be there to love and support him makes all the difference! We’re hopefully getting that message through to Georgia.
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