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First Grader - Trouble with Friends at School

Posted by on Apr. 16, 2014 at 3:55 PM
  • 29 Replies

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.

by on Apr. 16, 2014 at 3:55 PM
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by Gold Member on Apr. 17, 2014 at 7:56 AM
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First I want to commend you on taking an active roll in your stepdaughter's life, especially since her biological mom doesn't seem to care.

Since you mentioned that school is closer to her mom's house, is it possible to maybe move her to a school closer to your home, this way she could make new friends and have them over?

Brownies/Girl Scouts is definitely a good start.  My dd used to be in them and not only did she make lots of friends it kept her busy, plus the things they learn really do help with their self confidence.  Also, my dd used to attend the girl scout summer camp, this will be the first year she's not going.  And I have to say she loved it.  It was a great character builder and she made lots of friends there.

How about some sort of class, I've heard karate builds self esteme, or maybe a dance class.  We have a rec center that offers all kinds of stuff, do you have something like that by you?

It sounds like she's talking to you, so she may not need a therapist, but it's something you could try down the line if things don't improve.  

I wish I had more advice, my dd is 12 1/2 and she's very outgoing, she's always been that way.  I wish you and your stepdaughter lots of luck.

** It's 5 O'clock Somewhere **

by on Apr. 17, 2014 at 8:50 AM
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Poor little kiddo...being teased stinks..especially if you are a sensitive soul. 

Honestly, both of my girls take Karate. It has really helped them both with self discipline, and self esteem. My oldest is 8.5 and she is not bullied at all as she is just very confident in who she is- much of that is just her personality, but some of it came from the past 4 years of Karate. My youngest is a bit more sensitive..she has some little girls at school that try to exclude her, but I have told her that if she stays away from them and has fun with a couple of other little girls, they will learn that their behavior is not hurting her- only them as others will begin to exclude them for their snotty attitudes. It's working too...these little girls are trying to play with her more at recess now after her walking away and not giving them a target. They are taught in Karate to walk away when the bullying starts, so that has helped her immensely. 


" I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 

by on Apr. 17, 2014 at 9:26 AM
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You are doing such an awesome job with your stepdaughter. Thank God she has someone to help her. DS is also a sensitive soul and more mature, too, so I have had a few struggles. He was never teased, but just had trouble finding kids to connect with. Can you find a school closer to your house then her school friends can come over? It sounds like her present school may not be the best fit for her. Find groups of interest to her that she can join. Once she makes some friends there, that will help her confidence. I hope things improve for your little sweetie. It is so heartbreaking when kids are teased. Talk to her teacher about it and if things don't improve, I would find a different school for her. Best of luck and keep up the great work of supporting her!
by Melissa on Apr. 17, 2014 at 10:09 AM
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I see a lot of people have mentioned karate. That was my suggestion too. It builds a lot of self esteem. I was bullied a lot and karate really helped me. I wish I would have stuck with it. By 8 I was a belt away from black. But hockey became more interesting to me. Keep talking to her and building self esteem. It's tough when friends move. My daughter has been the one to move several times. She makes friends easy though and she is now much older. Good luck.
by Gold Member on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:09 PM
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Poor lil gal....She is kinda like my dd....Dh and I were just at school yesterday talking to the principal about girls picking on dd in the bathroom...They like to whisper and say she has ugly teeth....They are jealous....Does this look like ugly teeth to anyone????

by Gold Member on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:12 PM
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Girls can be so mean.

I think she's beautiful and she has great teeth!

Quoting bizkit_fanky:

Poor lil gal....She is kinda like my dd....Dh and I were just at school yesterday talking to the principal about girls picking on dd in the bathroom...They like to whisper and say she has ugly teeth....They are jealous....Does this look like ugly teeth to anyone????

** It's 5 O'clock Somewhere **

by Gold Member on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:18 PM

Ty, yes they can ge cruel....Some are sooo insecure they find someone to pick on....

by on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:24 PM
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Meet with her teacher and see if there's something that can be done that involves her whole care team.  You can't do it alone, and that is one of the jobs of her teachers, especially at that age, is to help socially not just academically.  They know the other students and can do a more hands on job of maybe pairing her up with another child they think she would click with.  Talk to her teachers!

And I don't care if your the step mom or birth mom, if you're raising her it's absolutely your problem, so good on you for being so involved!

by on Apr. 17, 2014 at 1:30 PM
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 First off I want to commend you for doing what you're doing for your little one. Well done! I don't think that we parents get enough of that. I have 4 crumb snatchers ranging  from college age to kindergarten so I've had just about every personality type in my house.  I think all of the suggestions here are great and I would add just a few things for you to think about.

1) Remember that she's 7 and in the 1st grade so treating her like an adult may be making it a little more difficult for her to identify with her peers in some ways. See if you can find some age appropriate activities that you and/or dad can do with her. That way you can see how she interacts with children her age outside of the stressful environment of school. From there you can give her some tools to help her better navigate how she interacts with others her age. I think that in her little heart, she's associating school with a lot of loss. It's close to her mom's house whom you said she really doesn't see that much which has to be tough,and her BFF  isn't there anymore.That's a daily reminder of people she loves who are gone or checked out, stressful for adults, let alone a little one. When children can't express what they're feeling they tend to create drama in the relationships that they think have some control over without even knowing it. So this may be why things are tough for her with others at school. Kids are mean to one another. They pick up on any little insecurity and use it to push each other around which is what it sounds like other at school are doing to her. Once she has a better handle on what she is feeling and why, she'll be able to ignore the meangirls at school!  

2) Get involved at her school. Even if it's just twice a month volunteer in her classroom. This is going to do two things for  you. First, it's going to give your sweet girl a good association with school that has to do with you. Someone who is invested in her, loves her and is present. She will begin to  think of school and think of  you being there spending time in her class. This will bring a world of change for her. Second it will allow you to see the classroom dynamics. You'll get to know the kids in the class, who they are, how they behave, interact and when she tells you about her day you can share in it with her in a different way than before, she will feel connected. This is what she wants, what she needs.  

3) If you have the latitude, reach out to her teacher. Let her know what's going on and how the other kids have been treating her and that you and your husband would like for her to partner with you to help get your daughter back because you want school to be a positive experience for her. If she doesn't respond or follow through, keep going up the food chain until someone does, your little one deserves it and no one is going to be her advocate if not her parents  right? 

4) Lastly, see if you can talk to the school about sending your contact info to her BFF's family if they have have their up to date info, or see if you can get their contact  info from another parent who may have kept in touch with them and surprise your daughter with a Skype session with her BFF. that would rock her little world and would give her a much needed confidence boost. 

I hope that some of this helps. It's all simple, it's just not easy!  

by on Apr. 18, 2014 at 12:31 AM

First off I for one think its awesome you are so involved your stepdaughter's life!

 It's hard for kids when their good friends move away, I am going through the exact same thing with my 10 year old. She is in the 4th grade and she is going through that exact same thing right now. Right before Christmas her best friend (BFF or soul sisters which her mom and I always referred to them as) moved away and it broke her heart to have to say goodbye, but we have made sure the girls keep in touch with other through letters, pictures, and occasionally they talk to each other over the phone which has helped out a lot. It helps her to know that even if they aren't in the same place they still have each other and they're still friends no matter what.

It hurts my heart that your little girl gets made fun of and cries. Kids can be so mean! My daughter goes through the same thing at school. She is very smart and funny, but she has very bad anxiety in social settings. It's probably not the best advice but whenever someone is mean or says hateful things to my daughter I tell her that they say those things because they're just jealous. I also tell her that they only do and say those things to just to see if they can get a reaction from her, so for her not to let them win and don't give them what they want. Instead of getting upset I've told her to kill them with kindness. For example, one little girl  that she has known since kindergarten tends to be very catty and tacky (we'll call her Tacky) towards Taci (my daughter). Just the other day they were out on the playground and Taci said hi to Tacky, who deliberately went out of her way to ignore Taci and instead of saying hi to Taci and another little girl she was standing with she only said hi to the other girl. I guess Taci felt she couldn't let Tacky's attitude go unnoticed because she turned around and very excitedly said," Oh my gosh Tacky that's great! I was afraid you forgot how to talk or your hearing was bad but since you said hi back to her I'm not worried anymore!" It's silly I know but it seems to of worked because Taci said that every time she sees her, Tacky is the first to say hi.

My daughter has never been involved in the Girl Scouts program, but she does play sports. When she was in the 1st grade I signed her up for every single sport that our local activity center offered, just to see which ones she would take a liking to. Soccer was a complete bust bless her heart but she really enjoyed softball and has stuck with it ever since. I would recommend signing her up for any type of team sport, club, or activity in your area where she can meet new friends who enjoy doing the same things she does. Girl Scouts, dancing, gymnastics, FFA, 4H, anything where other kids her age are involved in. Not only will she meet new friends but it will also give her confidence.

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