"You can't come to my birthday party" - Dealing with friendship conflict
“Our daughter seems to have good friends in general but somehow, at 5, there's already drama! Every day someone tells another girl they won't be their friend anymore or that they're not invited to their birthday party next month etc. She also has a terrible time when she's not in charge of what she and her friends are playing. How do you coach a young girl through communication and understanding they're thoughts and feelings? She is a very sweet and kind girl with a stubborn and hard headed streak. Right from birth the doctor and nurse told us she's going to let us know what she thinks.”
“She comes to life when she gets to direct everything that's going on and has full attention on whatever she wants to play. She has flourished with kindergarten and is always excited about her day at school and can't wait to go back.”
Parent Education Answer:
It sounds like you are interested in teaching your daughter some emotional management. The reason she is saying, “You can’t come to my birthday party” or “I’m not going to be your friend anymore” is because she is experiencing an emotion she doesn’t know how to deal with.
Your daughter sounds like a natural born leader. She comes to life when she is in charge and is very vocal and communicative. These are excellent qualities we don’t want to squash. We do however, want her to have friends while she climbs her way to the top so the trick is to teach her some emotional management techniques.
When other kids aren’t obeying her, I imagine she gets frustrated, annoyed and disappointed. Can any Supermoms relate to this? It’s a pretty typical reaction. Our kids or husband won’t pick up after themselves, we feel frustrated and powerless, so we snap, yell or manipulate them into doing what we want. Hurt people will hurt people. Annoyed people say annoying things. Disappointed people, disappoint others.
There are a few ways you can help your daughter deal with her feelings of frustration, disappointment, or powerlessness.
- Talk about your own feelings. An emotion is one word, a thought is a sentence in your mind. Start describing your emotions with the phrase, “I feel _______.” (sad, mad, happy, scared). Put a poster on the wall with different emojis and work together to expand her emotional vocabulary. Make sure you model using vulnerable emotions like “I feel disappointed” or “I feel embarrassed”. Notice what your daughter is feeling and say out loud, “You feel excited” or “You feel defeated”.
- Role play with her. Use her dolls or lego people to work out common disagreements. Show how sad the doll is when she hears she won’t be invited to her birthday party. Make a rule that they aren’t allowed to say “You can’t be my friend anymore”. Instead, teach them to say, “I’m feeling frustrated” or “I’m sad and need a break”. Model how to take deep breaths, apologize and forgive.
- Teach the girls how to have a conflict. It is not only normal, but important for kids to learn how to have conflict. Playing with other kids is the perfect opportunity to teach them how to compromise when you don’t get your way. When it gets heated, point out what you are seeing and hearing: “It sounds like Sophia wants to play with the kitchen, and you want her to play dress up. I’m sure you will figure out a compromise.” Or “It sounds like Julia would like to play by herself for a while.”
- Help your daughter understand herself. Make comments like, “I see your fists clench and you hold your breath when your friend isn’t playing the way you want her to.” “I notice you really like to be in charge but Emma also likes to be in charge. Is it hard when you both like to be the boss? “Which of your friends appreciates it when you take charge and is happy to follow along with your ideas?”
Life Coaching Answer:
What gets in our way from helping our children learn to resolve conflict? Our inner people pleasers.
So many Supermoms get stuck thinking that good friends never fight or say mean things. When you hear that YOUR DAUGHTER is emotionally blackmailing other girls, withholding friendship and birthday parties, we get embarrassed! Moms often think this is TERRIBLE because we view our child’s behavior as a reflection of ourselves and our parenting.
When our child is flourishing academically, socially, physically, we feel like successful moms. We relax and feel satisfied in our job as parents. But as soon as there is a problem, we blame ourselves. It’s just SO EASY to think, “I’m not doing it right” or “I should have done better”.
If this motivated us to take productive action, it wouldn’t be a problem. The problem comes because thinking, “I’m not doing it right” or “I should have done better” makes us feel inadequate and embarrassed. When we feel this way, we blame. We get mad at our kids, ourselves, we avoid conflict, we stop inviting kids over. We try and get our kids to behave so that we don’t have to feel like lousy parents. When we are avoiding our own negative emotions, we aren’t going to be teaching effective conflict resolution skills.
In order to follow the parent educator advice of patiently observing, modeling and teaching kids that it’s ok to have a conflict, your ego can’t be involved. This kind of teaching requires a mom to feel calm and confident. Can you imagine there is another mom out there in the world, raising a bossy 5 year old who withholds friendship and parties, that you think is a really good mom? Create that image in your mind. How does that mom talk to her daughter? How does she talk to other moms about the kid conflicts?
It is totally possible to be a good mom and have a bossy daughter.
Supermom Kryptonite: Downplaying awesomeness
Do you struggle to accept a compliment? Do you downplay your achievements and deflect praise when it comes your way? How are you at receiving and appreciating gifts? If you have a pattern of dodging positivity, you may subconsciously be draining your energy.
The reason some people get uncomfortable with compliments and positive attention, is that it doesn’t match what we say to ourselves inside our own head. We spend all day thinking, “I’m not doing enough” or “I’m failing as a mom”. We can’t wrap our brains around someone contradicting our inner dialogue.
When we attach our ego to our children’s behavior, it means we struggle to accept praise about our children, too. It’s more comfortable to throw our kids under the bus sayin, “I’m sorry my daughter is so bossy” or “My daughter should be nicer.”
We don’t want to brag about our kids so we err on the side of humility, which sometimes turns into pointing out children's flaws.
There is a difference between bragging and being proud of your children. Bragging means, “My kid is better than your kid.” Pride means, “I think my kid is amazing, and I don’t take credit. I think your kid is amazing, too.” There is plenty of awesomeness to go around. No need to minimize, deflect or downplay. We are all moms in the trenches, parenting perfectly imperfect children, all of us worthy of praise.
Supermom Power Boost - Consider Banning Bossy
There is a movement to ban the word bossy when describing a girl’s personality. Popularized by Sheryl Sandburg and supported by Beyonce, Condoleeza Rice and the Girl Scouts of America, this movement says that bossy undermines female leadership. Boys aren’t called bossy, they are called strong leaders.
Support girls leadership by banning the word bossy from your vocabulary. I want to live in a world where girls who are strong willed, powerful leaders, feel proud and confident to show this side of themselves without a negative social backlash.
Teach your daughter to be an effective leader. Join the movement, buy t-shirts and tote bags, by going to http://banbossy.com/
Quote of the Day:
“Let me take a minute to say that I love bossy women. Some people hate the word, and I understand how "bossy" can seem like a shitty way to describe a woman with a determined point of view, but for me, a bossy woman is someone to search out and celebrate. A bossy woman is someone who cares and commits and is a natural leader.” ―