Hey girls! This week we’ve got a question from Tina, the concerned mom of an 8 year-old:
Blaine- My 8 year old daughter has a friend who is bossy. She has tried to tell her friend to stop to no avail, tried ignoring her (then her friend was telling everyone my daughter was mean) and even told her camp counselors about the issue. I am trying to listen and be empathic but I don’t know what my daughter can say to this friend to have the friend back off and give my daughter some room to express what she wants and needs. Any ideas?
Eight year-olds are tricky because at that age, girls are learning how to make real and lasting friendships, and I can only imagine how frustrating it is when another girl’s bossy behavior thwarts your daughter from getting the opportunity to grow in these arenas. It is so great that your daughter stood up for herself, because many girls are too afraid of the repercussions if they do try to take on the bullying friend.
It sounds like your daughter is getting nothing but hurtful actions from this girl. One idea is to ask her to tell you the specific behaviors of the bullying friend, so both you and she can get a clear idea of what this girl is doing that is so inappropriate. That way she can define what bad friendship means to her, and also, she can use that to tell the bully that she is hurt when she, for example, isn’t allowed to swing next her or when she spreads rumors about her.
Have your daughter practice telling the bossy friend how she feels with you first, so she can figure out exactly what she wants to say and how she wants to say it. The friend will most likely not respond well to this, and it will be painful, but your daughter has the opportunity to express why she is hurt and what she needs.
I also suggest encouraging your daughter to branch out to some of the girls less affected by the bossy friend’s behavior. Beyond that, it may be a good idea to inform the other adults in the situation that your daughter is making an attempt to break away from this friend and is looking for others to look for new friends, and ask that they support both you and your daughter as she does so.
Good luck, Tina! It must be unbelievably painful to endure this with your daughter as she hurts, but hopefully it can be a learning experience for everyone involved.