Help me to make my dd kinder to her friends?

(70 Posts)
nottonightjoesphine Thu 08-May-14 11:58:49

Sorry for posting here. I feel really upset. My dd (6) is an only child. She has a pretty fractious relationship with her 'best' friend' in that she is very intense with her, doesn't give her a lot of space and friend inevitably gets frustrated with my dd. Friend recently had a playdate at ours and my dd did her head in, I watched it with my own eyes.

I am not one of these parents who can't see my child's faults and more than ever I am seeing that my dd argues the toss with her friends constantly. If she has a play date at our house with them, she bosses them around, won't share her toys, and if they say black, she will say white. The latter point is excruciating to witness in itself and I can't help getting involved and telling dd off when I see it. A typical example will be, she will have three friends over....and they watch to watch film A. Before it even happens, I just know dd is going to say she wants to watch film B. She couldn't give a flying fuck that she's in the minority and will sit there arguing and arguing to have the opposite of whatever everyone else has agreed on. She argues about rules in a game, who's playing what role etc. Sometimes, i'm so aghast at her behaviour that I feel like crying because I just know their tolerance of her will not last. There are occasions where she is arguing against the most ridiculous of things, like she wanted a video clip on you tube to start from a very specific part of the song, and not at the beginning, so she makes everyone miss out on that part. She had a sleepover a few weeks ago and they were singing along to a song from a film and she was moaning at them to stop singing as she wanted to hear it. I am just constantly telling her off when friends are over because she only behaves like this around them. When I am telling her off in front of them (which I don't want to do), she answers me back, and I always end up so incensed that I want to cancel the date/sleepover but never feel that I can because of the other kids sitting there in the middle of a film or whatever.
Play dates are rarely reciprocated but always gladly accepted. I can't work out if this is just the area I live in (lots of takers) or if it's just that the kids don't want my dd around at their house because of her behaviour.

One of the biggest blows to me recently was that her after school club leader told me that she irritates the other children a lot, because she goes out of her way to argue about the rules of a game or whatever. This caused me to go home and cry. Literally.

What can I do? We don't behave like this in our home, we are kind to each other, we are patient, we take turns. I don't know where I have wrong and I'm so sad about it. hmm

Ilovehamabeads Thu 08-May-14 12:06:56

Will be listening and absorbing all replies to this as my dd is the same. She's 9 now and hasn't improved at all, despite also being brought up to be kind and to share.

ThePriory Thu 08-May-14 12:09:35

Are you a lone parent?
She sees herself as the centre of her own little universe, and hasn't learned sharing, whether it's objects or ideas...

Unfortunately if other children don't want her around because she is upsetting them, she needs to know this is what her behaviour has lead to.

She will never understand the consequences of over-assertive or agumentative behaviour unless she experiences it.

Lilicat1013 Thu 08-May-14 12:16:01

I am not sure I am much help I have two little boys, one a baby and the other autistic so he doesn't really have those sort of social connections.

Firstly you are doing a great job trying to help her with this, try not to get too upset about it. I think a lot of little girls are somewhat bossy from what I have seen as children's activities. It seems to be an age related thing so she might grow out of it.

I was wondering if social stories would help? They are used for autistic children to explain every step of doing something new, like going to the dentist. Maybe you could use one to explain how people feel she argues with them all the time? You could write one where someone argues with her about everything she would like to do and ask her how it makes her feel.

If the after school club leader has comments how she behaves then challenge them to suggest things you could do at home to help her. I often do this with my son, when issues with his behaviour come up I ask what I can be working on.

I am not sure if any of that is helpful but I thought I would give it a try!

dyslexicdespot Thu 08-May-14 12:22:50

I was a bit like this as a child, I've since become a very good nice person with loads of close friends! I started to change after my best friend sat me down and explained that she would no longer be my friend unless I drastically altered my behaviour.

tigermoll Thu 08-May-14 12:24:50

You could try introducing some consequences - if she can't play nicely she has to sit out for ten minutes or even not be allowed to have friends round next time? Do you discuss her behaviour after the friends leave? Telling her off (firmly not unkindly) in front of the friends might also have an impact?

DoJo Thu 08-May-14 12:28:45

What a nightmare - it's so awful when they act like savages, especially when you make a special effort to do something nice for them.

Have you tried having a sit down conversation with her, when everything's calm rather than as part of a 'telling off' and asked her why she feels the need to argue with everyone. She might reveal something that helps, but if not then you can explain to her that she runs the risk of upsetting her friends and ending up with nobody to play with.

The other option is to warn her that if her behaviour doesn't stop, you will spend a morning/afternoon/set time behaving to her the way she behaves to others, so that she can understand what it's like to be on the receiving end of it. A bit of role playing can often help in a way that just telling someone something cannot, so if she can understand how frustrating it is for her friends then it might click. You can give her coping strategies (such as 'do things someone else's way for 5 minutes, and then ask to have a turn at your choice of activity, counting to ten before disagreeing with someone etc) so that she is equipped to make a change without feeling as though things have gone too far the other way and she never gets her own way.

Good luck - it sounds really difficult, and if all else fails then maybe your local children's centre might have some behaviour management ideas which could work.

Gurnie Thu 08-May-14 12:35:24

Don't panic op, I totally understand. I am going to change a few details about this post to maintain anonymity but...... I have know a little girl (through work) who has similar behaviours and she is adorable but so argumentative and egocentric. She actually is also an only but she really is NOT spoilt, she just acts like it ifyswim! Mum and dad are incredibly sensible, calm and firm with her.

Anyway, this is what we do. Set up little drama activities for her, very simple ones. E.g I pretend that we are playing a game together and I want to change the game. She has to see if she can sort it out calmly and kindly with me so we can continue the game happily. We also look at various "dilemas" (you can buy a little pot of these cheaply with really great child friendly problems in such as "you see your friend cheating on a spelling test, what would you do?") and we talk about them in a group.

Also I talk to the little girl on her own about her behaviour and say quite bluntly "You can be rather bossy and it's putting people off". Everytime see you talking to someone in a kind and positive way I am going to reward you with a sticker, or point, or whatever. It really is working.

I think when friends come round I would say to her that by and large the guests get to choose. I always did that with my Dd if she started to bicker with her friends. That was the default rule. Good luck OP!

MsMarvel Thu 08-May-14 12:51:15

I used to 'show off' a bit when I had friends round when I was younger. If my mum was going to tell me off she called me out of the room so it wasn't in front of my friends, where I would continue to show off.

I remember once my mum making me go to bed and she ran the girls home, and she logically explained it all to me, in that I only behaved like that when I had friends round, so they were going home so I would start behaving again. I still remember this so clearly, I couldn't believe that my mum had gone through with it. The shock of it really made me watch my behaviour.

nottonightjoesphine Thu 08-May-14 13:22:09

Thanks so much everyone. I really appreciate these ideas re: social stories and role play.

I always give my dd the 'choice' if you like, to behave or take a telling off in public. By this, I mean that I'll lean in and whisper ( or do it in private) to my dd that she's being unreasonable or unkind, and explain that she will be told off in front of her friends if she keeps it up. My daughter chooses EVERY single time to be showed up, because she simply carries on and on with the behaviour until I crack. She is, to put it mildly, an out and out brat to her friends and even I can't stick her behaviour when they're around, so goodness knows how they feel.
My eyes and mind boggle when I see some of the lengths she will go to, to pick a fight or get her own way. Ridiculously stupid things like argue about the colour of something being light pink when it's clearly dark pink, or she will argue that today is Saturday when it's clearly Sunday. You can see her friends not knowing which way to turn, exchanging looks because this little girl in front of them is adamant about something so completely ridiculous. My dd's 'stance' in an argument is to simply repeat her viewpoint over and over again. She won't offer a reason for her beliefs, just a repeat of them (is IS Saturday, it is. Today is Saturday, not Sunday, yes it IS!)
It's beyond exhausting. I hate the idea of so many people thinking this way about her. How long has this club leader been dying to tell me my daughter irritates other kids? Is she disliked? I know how awful it feels as a child to be unpopular and disliked, it's truly awful, but in this case my child has brought every bit of it onto herself.

Over the years, I've watched her friends grow out of the behaviours my child is still displaying. I've been on a million playdates with little girls and all of them over the ages have displayed the cantankerous Madame routine of being argumentative, not sharing, arguing black is white etc, but each and every one of them has left all that behind when they were 5 or so. My dd is almost 7 and if anything she is years behind them in her social development.
I would be mortified to end a play date and take a child home because of her behaviour. Imagine explaining it to the parent?

nottonightjoesphine Thu 08-May-14 13:27:10

PS I got so upset with her yesterday after the conversation with the club leader that I told her that she would not be having friends over until she improves. Of course she argued work me that I wouldn't be able to see that she was getting better unless I saw her playing with friends.
She argues with me as well - relentlessly, high pitched whiny arguing that invariably gets her a punishment. Argues over bedtime, argues over wanting two stories instead of one, argues over food, argues over what she is going to wear. I find every day a struggle sometimes because I know that whatever comes out of my mouth will be met with a protest of some kind and an attempt to draw me into an argument. I am getting more and more militant in my interactions with her because I can't take it.

Anyone else have a child like this?

CrohnicallyHungry Thu 08-May-14 13:30:39

If you don't want to end the play date, what about separating the children?

For example, 2 friends watch to watch film A, she wants to watch B. If you have 2 TVs you could send your DD to watch film B in another room, tell her she has the choice between watching A with her friends and watching B another time, or watch B now on her own. With the YouTube clip, maybe you could all watch from the start and if she wants to watch from a specific point she can play somewhere else and you'll shout her over when it gets to that part. If she receives no extra attention (and arguing back is attention) maybe she'll stop?

Pugaboo Thu 08-May-14 13:33:20

That sounds exhausting. I've no specific advice but have you read "how to talk so kids will listen"? I wonder if you will find some tips in there help diffuse the arguing between the two of you.

nottonightjoesphine Thu 08-May-14 13:39:00

Thanks. I have that book although admit I could so do with heading back to it and reading it properly. I know this probably sounds awful but I genuinely think my dd needs to 'learn her place'. I just would never have got away with arguing with my parents the way she does. She doesn't do it at school, just with her friends and with me.
Dd once told me a lunchtime supervisor called her a troublemaker. I was annoyed at the time, but as I leavers the full extent of her behaviour during playtime, I believe it to be true.

PurpleAlert Thu 08-May-14 13:55:14

123 Magic is a good tool too- a bit cheesy and Americanised but I found it very useful when my DDs were little and playing up.

AbbeyBartlet Thu 08-May-14 14:01:16

Does she actually want the playdates? I only ask because it sounds like she isn't keen on spending time with them at home. I was like that at her age, tbh.

I think this is one of those things that she has to learn for herself through natural consequences - if she isn't pleasant to her friends, they will not want to spend time with her.

The kicking off at you is completely out of order though - unfortunately I have no suggestions for that.

nottonightjoesphine Thu 08-May-14 14:20:15

Yeah she wants the play dates. Begs for them! smile

post Thu 08-May-14 14:21:39

There's a really great book called 'the unwritten rules of friendship', aimed at parents and carers, about different types of children who get it a bit wrong, and ways to talk through and practice better ways to interact; I'd thoroughly recommend it. Was great for dd.

post Thu 08-May-14 14:26:07

And she had similar stuff going on, I think. It was like she wanted to show how important she was, and mistook that for being liked. There are great lists, like 'a joke is only usually funny once' and 'if there's a game already going on, join in, rather than trying to make a new game'. I paraphrase! but that kind of simple stuff.

Corygal Thu 08-May-14 14:26:45

"she simply carries on and on with the behaviour until I crack."

I think you have your answer. Time for firm boundaries and consequences. She will lose her friends soon anyway if it carries on, so it would be helpful for you to persevere before that point.

You must be exhausted - but keep it up. Ask the school to help.

christinarossetti Thu 08-May-14 14:27:45

In addition to the excellent suggestions above, the next time she asks for a playdate, say that this won't be possible because she's behaved so badly in the past (with clear examples) that it makes you miserable to have friends over. It also seems to make her miserable, as she is so rude and disagreeable. You don't want either of you to be miserable ergo let's cool on the playdates for a while.

ScarletFedora Thu 08-May-14 14:43:37

I think I may have done some of these things when I was little. I think it was a lack of confidence in how to behave 'properly'. I went to play with a cherished friend once and was so intolerable I was never invited back. It was such a shock to me that I immediately changed my behaviour. I think at the time I was 'putting on' a character to seem confident - do you think your DD could be doing the same?

As she's 7, I wonder if a bit of a shock might actually be what you need. In your place, before she has another play date I would tell her:

1) She's in great danger of no one wanting to play with her if she carries on. Several adults (playground supervisor, play leader) have told you that people don't like her when she behaves that way. You don't like her when she behaves that way. She has one playdate to prove she can be someone people like to play with, and if she insists on being horrible then it ends instantly.

2) if she is horrible during the playdate, take her friends home as soon as she refuses to behave. Pre-warn their parents you may do this as you are trying to help DD realise the impact of her behaviour.

3) Don't have any playdates for about a month. Each time she asks say 'not until you can prove to me you can be kind'. During that time do lots of roleplay etc. as suggested above.

4). Try another playdate. If she's horrible, repeat!

Can you also talk to her about the concept of being a good host? e.g. the guest gets to choose the DVD, their favourite snack, has the first turn with something? She could put all that bossy energy into 'no, no YOU first I INSIST!' A definite lifeskill for a Brit wink

scouseontheinside Thu 08-May-14 14:52:17

What about Brownies?

I find it's good to have a friend group for the DC outside of the school network, and as Brownie leader myself, I know they do a lot of work on team building, social interaction, etc.

You've had some good suggestions - what do you do if she kicks off like this whilst having friends round? Try having a chat beforehand, and agree on a consequence, i.e. 5 min out of the room to think, or in more extreme circumstances, friend goes home.

Ohbyethen Thu 08-May-14 14:57:48

It's very difficult, particularly when you feel they are old enough to get it and so are choosing not to.

What worked for me may not be the standard, or even good, advice but I was at the end of my tether and was worryingly close to not liking dd. When I realised that her mum, who should be immovable and completely in her corner was thinking she didn't like dd it made me feel awful but also made me shake things up.

First thing was a long chat to see if there was anything I had missed, did she actually understand, did she feel bad about anything etc. Nothing new came to light so it seemed to be selfish and attention seeking behaviour.
I set out clear rules about interaction and consequences and put the rules up in her room so she could remind herself before going out.
My response was really exaggerated, black and white parenting for a while as it bedded in - I didn't get drawn into arguments about anything outwith the rules (if she was tired or hungry), that behaviour was completely ignored, I carried on as if she was saying what she should be. If she broke the rules I punished immediately and hard, each rule had a prescribed punishment (thought of when calm so I kept things proportional) and there was no budging or bargaining. This included friends going home early or making her leave the park or activity.
I praised harder! Similar to lovebombing I think. It was hard at first to get in before she managed to get herself in trouble but she had real, genuine praise and reward for anything positive. I tried to make sure that we had ringfenced quality time to do something fun - I spent a lot of time with her but it included a lot of coming along to shop or whilst I was doing other things, she was there but only got focussed attention by being a brat as I'd tell her off and that was completely my fault.
We would play games or read stories that had themes of being kind, sharing, problem solving, empathy, how to accept other ideas or compromise and how to argue constructively.
I tried to rebalance the control she had, she was a lazy little minx so preferred things to be done for her but because of that her need for control came out in other ways. She had to do more but because of that she got to choose more. She didn't really like that initially but being consistent with punish/praise/ignore worked well.

She learned how to get positive attention from her friends (and isn't a push over) and as she became nicer the group and activities she was invited to became larger. She learned how to put her frustration into words. Most importantly because I stopped her being able to turn every situation into the dd show she learned that sometimes you just have to wait with good grace (when anyone was doing anything that wasn't what she wanted) and that doing so led to the good stuff (things she wanted) occurring more quickly.
I needed to get a handle on it most definitely but my biggest ally was age, she seemed to mature a bit and it really showed how immature she was compared to her siblings and peers. Once we got into the swing of things the rules kept her in enough people's good books that she still had a good group of friends when she finally caught up.

She really is lovely now. She is brave and feisty and witty so I didn't crush her spirit! But she just doesn't rub people up the wrong way anymore. And she still likes me, which is always nice!

Ohbyethen Thu 08-May-14 15:00:01

Lots of cross posts. At least I wasn't too far off the mark which is always good to know when you're making your parenting up out of thin air blush

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