Mother worries about her 5-year-old's mean friends

QUESTION

Hi,

My daughter will be five years old. She is happy, well-mannered, loving, and pretty. She has attended a Montessori school since she was 16 months old and made two friends. The three girls were always together, or talking about each other.

By the end of the last school year, the girls told my daughter that they will not play with her if she keeps playing with this boy (who was rejected by most of the class). My daughter always finds good things in others and insisted they play with him, too.

This year, one of the friends told my daughter she doesn't have straight hair and shouldn't play with them. Then she started ignoring my daughter. My mother in-law decided to iron my girl's beautifully curly hair.

Recently, making birthday cards, my child decided to invite her "girlfriends" to her party. When I asked he why, she said because they are always together.

I know that my child feels hurt and I'm concerned about her now and in the future. I feel lost, not knowing how to help my child. I am not the most social person (she is though). Thus, I can't provide with her with more opportunities to meet others than what I already do -- taking her to different classes (music, dance, art, French, etc.) in addition to her attending preschool full-time.

I just got an RSVP stating that one of the girls will not attend her party and still do not know what to tell my child. I don't know what is wrong and what is right. Thank you.

Signed, Worried Mom

ANSWER

Dear Worried Mom,

It's always painful to a mother when someone hurts her child. Your daughter's friends weren't nice to her or the other little boy but little kids are still learning how to socialize. As a result, young friendships are often fleeting---even changing day to day.

Your daughter seems to be remarkably resilient, sensitive, loving, outgoing and mature beyond her years. Perhaps, you need to reiterate how proud you are of the way she treats people and tries to include others -- acknowledging that some kids don't always act as kindly as she does.

While I don't generally complain about mothers-in-law, ironing your daughter's hair didn't send your daughter or the other girls a good message. It implies that there is something wrong with her the way she is. Since this happened some time ago, forget it for now. But if your well-intended mother-in-law gets involved again, you can explain that even though she means well, ironing your daughter's hair isn't a good idea.

You have no option but to let your daughter know if one or both of the girls won't be attending her birthday party. If she seems upset, remind her that other friends will be there. My guess is that she will rise to the occasion.

In all truth, your worries seem to be a bit out of proportion. You are giving your daughter ample opportunities to find friends and to learn to play with other children. You might want to let her teacher know some of what has been transpired with the other kids so she can keep an eye on things at school.

Hope this helps.

My best, Irene

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