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.