Pressure to be friends

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-02-2005
Pressure to be friends
1
Fri, 12-02-2005 - 6:43am

I come to these boards when I need some advice from other moms - I always get good advice and new perspectives on my problem. So...here's my story!

My daughter is 6 and in first grade. There is a particular boy, who was also in her kindergarten, who has very persistently been pressuring her to play with him and be his friend since the start of school. This has been stressing my daughter out since the beginning of the school year. There were many nights when she was crying at dinnertime because this boy was "bugging her" and she just wanted him to leave her alone so she could play with who she wanted to and not have him following her around all the time. At first, she simply told him she did not want to play with him, but he has been very persistent, and eventually they seemed to have a truce and become friends. I was happy about this apparent solution to the problem until my daughter explained to me that it's just too hard to tell him no all the time, so she finds it easier just to give in. This was a huge disappointment to me, that at such a young age, she has been broken down into a relationship she does not want. He will tell her things like "If you don't play with me every day, you're not my friend." and give her a hard time if she tries to play with other friends. If she does play with others, he spends his time following her around. The teacher noticed this early on and took some steps to give my aughter some space, including moving him to a different table and not allowing him to sit next to her in group time, but this does not help at recess or on the bus. I have spoken to the teacher about it, and after that they seemed to be friends, so we determined that things were OK, but just tonight, my daughter woke up with a bad dream for the third time this week, and I finally got her to tell me what the dreams were about - and its about this boy bothering her. Now I can't sleep! There are other things involved here too - the boy and his older (3rd grade) brother have been telling my daughter on the bus that "God is mad at her" because our family does not go to church, and that lying is a sin (not sure how they got on that topic), and other religious comments - we are not a religious family and I am bothered by them sort of ganging up on her - obviously lying is wrong, and my daughter knows that, but no kid, whatever their background is, needs to be told "God is mad at you"! Another thing, there is a little girl in their class who was singing the "sitting in a tree , K-I-S-S-I-N-G" song at my daughter and this boy, which was very upsetting to her. He also writes her "love notes" which she crunches up. It just seems she cannot escape him, no matter what she does.

I have consistently told my daughter that she can pick her own friends and that no one can tell her she has to play with them, tried to explain that good friends don't force you into things you don't want to do. The fact is, though, she probably spends more hours with this boy on a school day than she does with me if you consider she's at school for 8 hours and I have about an hour in the morning, and 3 hours between when I get home from school and she goes to bed. I am going to contact the teacher again today, I think, after I have talked with my husband and had a chance to calm down, because I am feeling pretty emotional about this right now. My daughter can't even sleep due to this harassment! Something has to change, and I am not sure what to do. I have thought about trying to switch her to a different class, but I don't know if that's possible, and in any event, I am pretty sure all the first grades have the same lunch and recess times.

So, as I said in the beginning, I am hoping for some good advice and some perspective on the issue. Thanks for reading my long story and thanks in advance for any advice or support you can offer.

-Meg

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-31-2004
Fri, 12-02-2005 - 11:04am

Wow! Harrassed at the age of six! That is amazing...

It sounds like you do need to get the teacher involved again. Describe the situation to her just like you told us, or better yet send her an email with cut and pastes of your message here so you make sure to get all the details in. Especially the "God is mad at her" part and the nightmares your daughter is having.

You might also cautiously ask around to see what kind of parents this child has. If they are nice people whose children are just a little too forcefully exuberent they will want to know so that they can work on correcting their son's behavior at home. But perhaps it is better for the teacher to be the one to talk with them. Hard to say - you would have to judge that for yourself.

You can also talk to the recess teachers if they are different from the classroom teacher, as they are at my own son's school. A friend of mine whose daughter was having some trouble on the playground at school did this with great success. Once the playground teachers knew what was going on, they were all over the situation.

I just recently heard of a study that showed that children were most open to learning about God at the age of five or six years old. I am discovering that is the case with my own six year old. He talks about God all the time. Although I am a religous person, I am fairly private about it and it is not something I discuss all the time. But my son has really picked up on it and does discuss it with his friends. So I have tried to be careful to tell him that God gave everyone a choice about whether or not to believe in Him and we must be careful not to try to take that choice away from people who have chosen other paths for their lives. Maybe this little boy who is bothering your daughter is just a little too excited about what he is learning in church and is coming to his own erroneous conclusions about God being 'mad' at people. If it were my son who was saying this to children, I would want to know - not only to stop him from bothering people, but also just to correct his own theology! So maybe his parents will be open to helping to fix the situation.

Good luck, I would be interested in hearing updates of your daughter's situation. Everyone has the right to feel safe and comfortable at school.

Susan

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