Thursday, January 27, 2011

Unqualified

I'm having a situation with my 7 year old, and I'll be honest. I feel unqualified to adequately handle it. Oh, sure, I can handle it, but I worry I'm not saying the right things or making the right impression or teaching the right lessons. Allow me to try to explain.

Cancel that explanation. I just started typing it all out and none of it was very clear and it was drawn out and long winded, so perhaps I can summarize my core concern. 

To a 7 year old, how can you instill a need to demonstrate kindness, even if a "friend" of hers isn't very kind? How can you suggest she "not be friends" with another child because that child is getting her into trouble (of the talking too much, not paying attention in class, excluding other children from being their friends kind of trouble)? How can you communicate qualities that aren't the making of a good friendship into words and ideas a 7 year old can grasp?

Because to her, the "friend" that's getting her into trouble is a friend. Someone who's company she (for whatever reason) enjoys. And this "friend" is damaging Kaylee's friendship with true friends because Kaylee is a bystander to the mean-ness and exclusion.
(at least, from what I've gathered, she's a bystander. I certainly hope she's not a participator.)

For the last few days, I've been "angry" at this so-called friend. Angry that this girl is a bad influence on my Kaylee, helping Kaylee get into trouble and damaging her friendship with other people.
Of course, I haven't shared this anger with Kaylee, but I have shared it with my husband.

Until today.
I was in Kaylee's classroom to chat with her teacher briefly, and I saw the "friend," which was exactly what I needed.

Because she's just a little girl too. Just like my Kaylee.
She's 8. And in my heart, I believe 8 year olds aren't mean. They aren't manipulative. (well, they are!, but not vindictively so). And maybe she doesn't know better, or wasn't taught better, or has her own issues she's working with.

So while I still don't like the influence, I do care for the girl.

9 comments:

  1. Oh, Megan, I completely understand what you're going through. It is hard to make a 7 year old understand. What I usually tell my daughter is something along the lines of "think about how you would feel if someone said or did those things to you." Then "when you see that happening to someone else, try to make them feel happy by letting them play or sticking up for them." As far as classroom time, try explaining that there is a time to play and talk and a time to work during school and when it's time to work it's okay to not pay attention to the "friend." I don't know if that will help, but maybe it'll get the conversation started.

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  2. Wow that's tough, but then no one every said parenting would be easy. I don't feel incredibly qualified to offer advice since my oldest is only three, but here are some "thoughts" anyways. You are onto something with her only being 8...she is just reaching the age of reason and still learning and growing at that. She is barely even capable (if at all) of even "sinning" at this stage and you must take that into account. So much goes into the way children are...from the way they are "wired" so to speak in their genes to their home environment and all sorts of other external influences. I'm sure there is a reason Kaylee is drawn to her as a friend and you don't want to ruin that for Kaylee, but at the same time, she is impressionable as well. But from all that I know of you, it sounds as if Kaylee has a very grounded home life and lives in a positive, good environment. Has she ever had this little girl over? That may be your first key on how to handle all this, is actually observing the two of them interact together?

    I don't know, I'm going to quit now, because like I said, I haven't been there so I feel a bit iffy talking about it in the first place. But I agree, it isn't fair or even charitable to just up and tell her they can't be friends anymore.

    I hope my ramblings have some sort of coherence. Good luck, I will say a prayer for you and the situation.

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  3. Isn't it crazy reliving being 7 through grown up eyes? Aubrey's been having problems making friends because 1)she's shy and easily embarressed but 2)once she opens up she can be..... well for lack of a better word-bossy. This weeks she's been upset because one of the girls in her class starting teasing her because her last names Potter so she must be related to Harry Potter. Aubrey gave the girl a reaction (and tattled) and now its escalated.
    Its hard because you want to teach the life lessons you learned from being 7 without them learning the hard way.....

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  4. I remember having bad influences for friends at that age. I don't think there was anything my mom or dad could have done to dissuade me. I think it's just one of those things you realize on your own, even at that young of an age.

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  5. man what a tough one! not looking forward to those types of issues with Landon!

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  6. At 7 I was as stubborn as they come....good luck, I can only imagine what parenting will be like:)

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  7. @ Katie, mine is bossy too. And ULTRA competitive and a terrible loser. Sigh. It's not easy being a parent.

    @Kara and Kristina, gee thanks for the hopeful messages!

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  8. @ Monica, thank you for your thoughftul message. I'm hoping I could find a few social stories that I could read with Kaylee and hopefully open up some communication that way.

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