Giving children privacy: When to draw the line? Plus making new friends

We’ve been going through a bit of a rough patch the last few weeks.

One of our girls has been coming out of school moody and angry at the world.

At first my husband and I approached this sudden change of personality by trying to be patient and asking her to think about how she talks to other people.

We reinforced the idea that if you want people to talk nicely to you, then you have to talk nicely to them.

This didn’t seem to be sinking in, so we’d usually end up shouting and sending her to her bedroom.

Clearly, this wasn’t working and it wasn’t getting us anywhere.

One day she came home from school and refused to give me her coat. I didn’t think anything of it until I saw her sat in the corner of our living room stuffing something into her coat pocket. When I walked in the room, she froze and was obviously trying to hide something from me.

I didn’t make a big deal of it.

I waited for her to finish what she was doing before watching her put her coat on the hallway cabinet before going into her bedroom to change out of her uniform.

Now I’m all for allowing my children to have privacy, but when I have concerns about my childs’ welfare and state of mind, then I feel as a parent that I have a right to breach that privacy.

As such I took the opportunity to see what she’d put into her pocket with such secrecy.

It was a Lego man figure.

Without wanting to cause a scene or upset her, I took her to one side and talked to one another about what was going on.

I asked her where my nice little girl had gone. The girl who would wake up with a smile on her face and come out school excited to tell me all about her day.

She got upset.

Clearly something was eating away at her.

I asked if something was going on in school.

Was someone not being nice to her?

Did something happen to upset her?

After talking for a while the truth slowly came out.

The problem seems to be that one of her friends only plays the games that they want to play and won’t let her play the games she wants to play. As such when she says that she doesn’t want to play her friends games, she’s left on her own. It appears that her friend is a pretty strong character.

I also discovered that the reason she’d snuck the Lego man figure into her coat pocket was show to her friend.

I explained that it was ok to take such things into school to show friends and that there was no need to hide it from mummy or daddy, but I also explained that whilst she can let other children play with her toys, she’s not to let other children keep them because mummy and daddy paid for her to have them.

I think she understood, but I do wonder if her friend is only her friend because she’s been sneaking things into school to gift them to her ‘friend’ in return for friendship.

I explained that a friend is someone who makes you happy and asked if her friend is making her happy.

She shook her head and said no before getting upset again.

For someone so little at the tender age of just 5 years old, she seems to have the weight of the world on her shoulders.

She appears unhappy and stressed.

From the moment she comes out of school to the moment she goes to bed she’s moody, argumentative and generally not pleasant to be around.

Since our little chat we’ve given one another a new challenge.

My challenge to her was to find a new friend. Someone that makes her happy and someone that lets her play the games she wants to play, but also someone who’s happy to share their own games too. I explained that having a friend means compromise and sharing. It shouldn’t just be one way.

I said that it was ok to keep playing with the friend that made her unhappy if that’s what she wants to do, but if that person makes her unhappy then it’s time to walk away and find someone else to play with. Hopefully then her friend will learn that friendship is a two way street.

It appears she’s put all of her eggs in one basket. If her friend doesn’t want to play with her and decides to play with someone else, then she’s left with no-one else to play with.

My husband and I explained that it was good to have more than just one friend. She seemed quite excited by the idea of her challenge to find a new friend, and when she went into school she definitely seemed happier.

The smile has come back to her face.

Hopefully some of what we talked about will sink in. I’d like her to make some new friends rather than just have one friend.

I’ll keep you updated.

30 thoughts on “Giving children privacy: When to draw the line? Plus making new friends

  1. god, it’s so hard sometimes isn’t it? Best of luck Em. Our teen was like this, could only have one friend at a time and gave everything to that one person. Unfortunately the world doesn’t work that way.

  2. It’s very frustrating to see our children so frustrated and angry at the world.

    At that age they really find it hard to put into words what is upsetting them.

    Hopefully she makes a new friend that is kinder to her.


  3. I can completely relate. My little Miss has had some challenges this year too. I didn’t realise that friendship issues & challenges would start so young. I breaks my heart too…

  4. Oh bless her it’s so difficult. Both my girls have had this at various times and having worked in a school briefly, can say that lots of other children do to. You’ve handled it brilliantly, hopefully things will get easier for her and she’ll make some lovely new friends #ThatFridayLinky x

  5. It’s so hard isn’t it and sometimes they have to figure things out for themselves. My daughter at 9 seems to get embroiled in drama every day and I’m sure it’s a contest of who can be the most dramatic in the playground as every day someone’s got upset because somebody’s been mean, then she tries to help and they all get split up by the lunch lady. And if her favourite friend is in a lunch club then she seems to get a bit stuck for who to play with and ends up playing with the same girls who can turn on each other at the drop of a That! Bloody girls!!! I hope things get better soon. #thatfridaylinky

  6. I can empathise with this so much. My twin 2 (5) is going through the same thing with anger. I am trying so hard to be patient, with 2 others around it is very hard to cope with! #thatfridaylinky

  7. Aww its so difficult sometimes isn’t it! Mia started school in Sept and since then we have noticed a huge change in her behaviour towards me in particular and sometimes I think she is genuinely angry with me for sending her to school even though she loves it! A lot of it is tiredness but its hard not to get upset by the things she says to me! I hope your daughter finds some new friends to settle with that want to play the games she wants to play, I struggled at school and its not nice! She is very lucky that she can talk to you about it, I hope Mia feels she can talk to me when shes a bit older!


  8. oh bless her, she’s so young to be having trouble like that with friends, I hope your advice works and that she finds a new friend that she’s happy with. x

  9. Poor little thing! That was a wonderful talk you had with her though and I hope it’s something that stays with her for life. You may have just created a new path where she always tries to find a new friend in whatever she does in life! Pretty cool! I moved every year until 5th grade and I can relate that it stinks to have only one option for fun. #thatfridaylinky

  10. Thank you so much for sharing this. At every stage of child rearing there’s a different issue to contend with. I’ve got two children and I’m only at the two-year-old tantrum stage, it’s quite an eye-opener reading other people’s experience with older kids. It helps keep me on my toes and arms me with the knowledge I may need for the future.

    Your husband and you have dealt with this incredibly, I admire your approach. Thanks again for sharing! #ThatFridayLinky

  11. It’s amazing how young these issues begin, isn’t it. We tend to completely underestimate the complexity of children’s feelings and thought processes. Even with young toddlers you can look at their expressions and almost see the little tumblers spinning around inside their heads. All the best with your daughter! It sounds like you’re on it. 🙂

  12. It’s such a tricky balancing act, Emily! We’ve been having trouble with our eldest testing boundaries and being rebellious. This could be down to our new addition and the need for attention which is understandable but we also need to be firm and teach her right from wrong. Great post!

  13. It sounds like you handled it so well and patiently. Some children can be so cruel at this age; this really don’t fully understand that their words hurt whereas others are so sensitive. It’s such a hard thing to learn isn’t it? I expect your little one just can’t understand why she can’t make this child her friend. I hope she makes some new friendships soon; it may be idea to let her teacher know so that she can support this. Good luck. #thatfridaylinky

  14. Poor wee lamb…I hope she finds a new friend. My son is the same age and while he seems to be pretty sociable he does only play with one other boy every play time. It’s led to some squabbles between them! It’s so hard when they’re at school and you only hear bits and pieces about what goes on.

  15. So sorry you are facing this challenge and friendship at any age is a minefield and who knows what his going on for the other girl? Keep a good eye on things, talk to the school, check out websites like Young Minds and know that this too will pass and there will be learning in it.

  16. Oh goodness, I vaguely remember the school days in my early years and actually life was really stressful at times. Friendships are building, characters are changing, hormones are raging, personalities are defining and all of this requires our kids to test boundaries with themselves, with their friends and with their parents.

    I think you are dealing with it fantastically. I hope things improve. All the best. pen x

  17. Oh God that made me cry!! We’ve had a very similar thing with my daughter when she was 3 she started a new nursery and didn’t want to make friends and spent a lot of time alone, unhappy, not wanting to go to nursery and it cut me up. On talking to her we finally realised she thought her best friend Jess (her Godmothers daughter who went to her childminders and we see alot…her BFF) would be replaced…she thought she shouldn’t make a friend cos she already had a best friend and she was pushing everyone else away. It sounds so silly but in her mind it was so clear but so clearly making her unhappy. We explained about having more than 1 friend and she has taken time to adjust but she’s now happy in nursery and has a few friends there 🙂 great post.

  18. Bless her. It is hard to watch them go through such tough things when they are so little. My little boy tends to get upset if certain friends aren’t at preschool and it has taken a lot of encouragement for him to make other friends. It is one thing that worries me the most – hopefully your chat will have helped her and she will go back to her happy self #ThatFridayLinky

  19. I have a 7 year old with similar behavior, and we are going crazy! The tantrums, the doom, the gloom, the tears. HELP! I hope you solved it for your little! Wish me luck! xoxo #ThatFridayLinky xoxo

  20. It’s so hard! My son is also 5 and there’s a boy in his class who has caused us some worries. My son is extremely popular as he is just a gentle soul, but he is also very kind and sensitive and this boy seems to prey on that. It’s little things like moving away if my son sits by him but it really effects Skylers mood. I can always tell if something has happened as he is so quiet. Seems like you handled it really well x x #thatfridaylinky

  21. I really hope Ben will be open with me about any problems. I hate the idea of not knowing whats troubling him! Love your challenge idea, might have to keep this in mind for the future! #thatfridaylinky

  22. This sounds like a really difficult one to deal with, and I’m not looking forward to these little problems. Not nice for our little people. But also sounds like you dealt with it really well. #thatfridaylinky

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