Hello ladies, I need some advice on how to handle my first grader's social problems. I'm a step mom to a fantastic intelligent thoughtful sensitive 6 year old, she is in first grade. Last year she had one close friend, who, unfortunately, moved to Paris which kind of left her hanging in the social world.
I know what you're thinking - you're the step mom! It isn't your job. But my situation is a little unique. Her mom has pretty much checked out, and doesn't see her daughter much at all (maybe three hours a week tops). Her dad is working all the time, so I am the most hands on of all three of us. All the emotional development and life lesson learning falls on me, which I'm thankful for, because I believe I have the right tools and the right outlook on life to help her grow up happy and healthy.
Anyway, since her BFF moved, she's kind of been left out socially. She has very deep conversations with me about how the kids make fun of her, and how she cries a lot at school, and how they make fun of her for that, which just makes everything worse. She also talks about how she tries to play with the kids but they will tell her things like, this game is only for two people, you can't play. The kids are already starting to bully, especially the girls, and they can be downright nasty.
Her school is near her mom's house, we live too far away to have the school kids come over to play with her. There are a few kids in our building who love her, but it's hit or miss -- everyone is always busy.
My heart breaks for her. I've explained to her that if she doesn't cry when they tease her, they will find someone else. She said she can't stop it, so we made up this game where she would pretend like the kid is a giant monkey running around and making no sense, so she could concentrate on something funny instead of whatever the kid was saying, and not cry, but rather, laugh. She's got a great imagination so this is easy for her.
Easy in theory, but hard in practice.
I have her do a lot at home for herself, and praise her for her independence. She's very thoughtful and intelligent, so I treat her like an adult, and teach her adult card games and things, and remind her that she's smart enough to learn these things. She teaches me a lot, and I remind her how awesome I think that is -- she teaches the adult! I think that's way cool.
But I know my words only go so far, and everything is undone when she goes to school and faces this battle, and when she sees her mom who does nothing but lower her self-esteem.
What are some things you would recommend to help in this situation? Does she need therapy? I've heard programs like Girl Scouts really help to build self esteem and strengthen social skills. Has anyone tried that?
Thank you ladies, I appreciate any advice you can give.