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Monday, 21 March 2016 22:25

I Won't Be Your Friend Anymore

It happened one day, as I was blissfully believing my children would stay young forever. I hear "I won't be your friend anymore!!" screamed across the downstairs playroom, followed by more unintelligible screaming and a sudden clamor of feet stomping up the stairs. 

"You WILL be my friend!!" I hear my 5-year-old daughter scream. Followed by "Don't tell on me!!! AAAAAHHH!!!"

I understand as a parent, that there may be times when you prefer your child to stop spending so much time with a particular friend - they may be a bit too bossy, or a downright bully. Or, maybe they just have a negative influence on your child that you would prefer to minimize.  The difficult part of understanding this - is understanding that someday that could be MY kid that another parent would prefer their child to avoid. 

My daughter is bossy. And selfish, although that seems almost universal in young children. It is a bad combination, though, because it means that she frequently wants all the things, as well as wanting everyone around her to play her games in EXACTLY the way she would like. 

This is another one of those character traits that I thought I had possessed because I was an only child (and Grandchild) for the first seven years of my life, who was a tad bit spoiled... evidently that is not always the reason children are like this.  

We are working with her on this - not that we have any real clue how - by talking her through the 'whys' of everything, and trying to make her empathize by turning the situation around and asking how she feels about it. It doesn't seem to work, but my parenting experience so far has told me that doesn't necessarily mean it isn't.  So we press on. 

In the meantime, how to deal with the 'I'm not your friend anymore!' concept? Thankfully, the mother of the child who yelled this at my daughter shares my view on this and we have told our daughters that this is not something you say to a friend - it is just simply not ok. As for my daughter - I try to make two things clear to her. The first is that friends fight, and that even adult friends fight - but it doesn't mean you are not friends. In fact, the closest friends are almost guaranteed to fight sometimes, and it is in the weathering through this that friendships become even more valuable.  

*I should note that by 'fight' here, I do not mean throwing punches, but rather frustrating disagreements that are not always as civil as you'd like to admit the next day. 

The second thing I would like my daughter to understand is that her actions are what makes her friendship desirable. Certainly not everyone is perfect and pleasant all the time, but it is important in a relationship to give back sometimes and not always be taking from your friend. This is a good thing for me to remember, as I write this, it seems to be just as fully an adult friendship issue as a childhood one. I want her to understand that meanness and bossyness WILL eventually make her friends prefer to spend time away from her. That although I can tell her that SHE is not allowed to end a friendship because of a fight, I can't control what another friend or parent might do - and at that point, it will be too late. I want her to know in her attention-challenged childhood that even in the moment, kindness really matters.

We had a number of discussions with her after a week of incidents similar to this one, and I think things have improved since then. Has anyone else encountered a similar situation? How did it turn out? How did you handle it? 

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