School birthday party - do we invite a demanding child? Heeelllppp!

(42 Posts)
keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 10:28:55

Do I invite my child's friend to her birthday party when I know (and my daughter knows and has said so) that this child will try to keep her to the side, away from the group and stop her from joining in with the others because she doesn't like big groups and only wants to play with my lo. The simple answer is just don't invite the child, however, this child plays with my child at school, (the same problem is ongoing at school and we are getting totally lost with how to put it right), my child does actually like her generally, its just that this kid stops her from playing with others, and that is a major problem in my eyes. This child will fully expect to be invited, and will probably be heartbroken if she doesn't so it does feel really cruel, but I have to think of my own child here and the fact that her birthday will be essentially spoilt by one child selfishly wanting to keep the birthday girl to herself.
I have tied myself up in knots over this as I don't approve of the way this child behaves around my daughter, she's all over her squeezing her and squealing all the time, it feels obsessive. I don't want my lo to start being mean to anyone, but I really feel this is getting in the way of her own social development. Equally, my lo says she doesn't want to hurt her feelings. Its a really tricky situation. Anyone have any experience of this and how did you handle it? If i do invite the child, she'll take over and spoil things, if I don't, she'll be heartbroken.
Gaaahh!!! Help!!!

momb Wed 09-Jul-14 10:34:53

Invite her but manage the activities so your DD has to be 'the birthday girl' and mingle with everyone? Invite her but have a quiet word with her Mum?

Jennifersrabbit Wed 09-Jul-14 10:41:15

How old are the girls? If four it'll probably come out in the wash, if ten maybe a bit more of a problem.

As far as the party goes, do you know the parents and can you talk to them? It may be the girl has some delays or difficulties with social skills, and mum or dad might be able to attend the party and make sure she doesn't monopolise your DD. or as pp has said, be clear at the party that your DD is the birthday girl and needs to play with everyone - and if mum/dad are there they can handle the fall out! My DS has significant social skills delays and id go along to smooth the path in this way if needed very happily.

Re the more general problem Id certainly have a word with school if they are early years/ks1, they will have seen it all before and will probably have ideas how to help both girls.

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 10:42:24

Thats what we are thinking is going to have to happen. Its at a playcentre so there are organised parts to it but I will literally have to follow her around the whole time to keep her involved! Its so tricky. As for having a quiet word, I'm not sure they'd understand. They ask and ask my lo to go and play and we just aren't happy about it and we've had countless reasons not to go and they just keep asking, and to be honest, these messages and 'requests' are getting less and less friendly from her. More of a demand than an invitation! I'm glad its nearly summer holidays so we can get a breather. How do you help a 6/7yo manage such a complicated situation!? We've talked to the school and I think things are improving in the classroom but on the playground, who knows?

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 10:49:27

Girls are turning 7. Its clear that the girl doesn't like big groups, but my lo is very social and chatty. She gets on great with anyone and it is becoming clearer to me that the only situation where she isn't social and chatty and attentive is when this other girl is there. She is incredibly demanding and is quite literally up in her face all the time. She's said things like if you don't play with me I'll tell the teacher, well, my lo doesn't want to get into trouble! The parents don't seem to intervene when she's behaving this way, they let it continue for ages before giving a gentle and fairly useless instruction to get her to give my lo some space. They just don't seem to have a grip on her. She also seems very demanding towards us as adults, asking very forthright questions about why I won't let my lo do this or that, and even then the parents don't intervene!

slackcabbage Wed 09-Jul-14 10:50:55

We had a situation a bit like this with dd three years or so back. It will pass, honestly. It's just a phase. Things change very quickly at that age.

I would definitely, definitely invite the difficult girl. I know it may spoil things a little for your dd and make life more complicated for you, but it's a good life lesson in how to overcome social difficulties without being unkind.

I personally, would definitely NOT speak to the difficult child's parents. That sort of conversation never ends well.

Knowing what is likely to happen in advance is the key to handling this. However difficult, or expensive (within reason of course), suggest you find a friend or a family member, or hire a sensible and willing teenager, so you have an extra person on hand to 'monitor' this girl in a very friendly and positive way to keep things on an even keel, and leave you free to deal with everything else!

Hope it goes well!

bughunt Wed 09-Jul-14 10:52:57

Does your dd want her to come?

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 11:00:42

Thanks so much, its a heartbreaking thing to watch. I really feel that our lo's other chances of friendship in the playground are being spoilt by this situation, and it really is breaking our hearts. She's not tough enough to stick up for herself but we're trying to help her to be assertive and not let anyone tell her what to do. She's also very kind in nature and we don't want that to be spoilt either.

We certainly know what will happen and between me and my husband we'll just have to be in the middle of it all the time. And if the kid doesnt like it, well tough. Its our party and our rules. It happened last year, this one was at home, they were all upstairs and the girl kept trying to get her to go upstairs and get under the covers in her bed!! I just don't like any of it!

I'd love to just not invite her though, and see my own lo play freely and dance with her other school friends, and mix in like she should be able to every day. sad

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 11:02:50

Actually, last night we said lets make a list and she told us that she doesn't want her to come, and gave the above (very valid) reason. That she would be pulling her away and distracting her and not wanting to dance all the time. Which has caused us to think, well maybe we shouldn't invite her if thats what our daughter wants. But we are aware that this child will be upset.

Sleepsoon7 Wed 09-Jul-14 11:03:57

I know the problem as my dc had similar issue. I would not speak to the parents - bound to be disastrous IMHO! I didn't want my dcs party ruined so I invited the other child to a separate "special" birthday lunch in a local pizza restaurant for my dc, the difficult child and another compliant child. It was sold to them on the basis they were special and the party was for general friends. I think I took them to the local pool for a swim first to ensure they were too tired to play up in the restaurant. Any parent with sense would see through it all - but only if they want to. The parents of the difficult child in my case did not want to ....Good luck!

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 11:08:35

The 'special' birthday is a great idea but tbh we want to discourage the friendship as much as possible - an exclusive party would only make her think she was extra special and she'd be getting exactly what she wanted - my lo all to herself! We want the friendship to mellow out and not get stronger! Otherwise I perhaps would have done this though.
I don't think it would end well talking to the parents, esp when they aren't any good at stepping in even when they can see it going on in front of them.

bughunt Wed 09-Jul-14 11:13:16

Don't invite her if your dd doesn't want her to come. This is a party for your child, not this friend.

Invite her round for tea or something on another day. She will get over it.

It sounds like you need to start putting a bit of distance between them anyway. Maybe if she doesn't get an invite she'll start getting the message that she can't monopolise your dd and look for other friends which will give your dd a bit if space.

Sleepsoon7 Wed 09-Jul-14 11:35:08

Why not ensure party is in the hols (if not too late). In any event send invites by email / post with a note to recipients to please be sensitive / kind and not discuss with anyone not on the list you put on the bottom of the invite, as owing to numbers unfortunately you can't invite everyone, and don't want to upset anyone. Then decline any summer visits to difficult girls house (sounds v stressful for your child at the moment). By Sept should hopefully all be long past and forgotten and hopefully difficult child has a new "best friend". Simples!! PS sorry about overlong sentences!

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 11:35:18

I agree with everybody's points! Gaah! What to doooooo!

slackcabbage Wed 09-Jul-14 12:04:50

Bughunt - I get what you say, but it's horrible to exclude one child (who will 'probably be heartbroken' according to opening post)

And what does that teach our own dc?

Each to their own but I couldn't do it.

And the child concerned is only 7 fhs (hardly her fault if she's a pain in the bum!) Admittedly, equally, not op's dd's fault if party ruined but that's life sometimes! Personally, I would prefer to look back and be satisfied I'd included everyone. It's a life lesson. A party isn't exclusively about your own personal enjoyment is it? It's about giving your guests a good time too!

bughunt Wed 09-Jul-14 12:27:42

What solution can you suggest then slack?

I think sleepsoon has put it more tactfully than me.

The whole party invite thing is frequently blown out of proportion from christenings up to weddings and everything in between. If it's your party you should have the people you want there. If you're not invited, you need to learn not to take it personally. It's a hard lesson to learn at this age, but it stands you in good stead later on in life.

This morning my 8 yr old ds watched a friend of his dish out invites in the playground. He didn't get one. Before he went in to school he ran up to me and gave me a big hug. He never hugs me in the playground.

The hug said "I wish I had got an invite to that party".

I doubt if he'll think about it much or mention it when we get home, but if he does we'll have a conversation about how it can't be everybody and a reminder that he has 2 other invites over the next few weeks.

Ime this kind of thing bothers the mums much more than it bothers the kids.

slackcabbage Wed 09-Jul-14 12:38:13

Agree that 'being left out sometimes' is also a good lesson to have to learn.

I suggested a solution below (having an extra person on hand to monitor the difficult child's behaviour leaving op free to deal with everything else). This is what I did in dd's case and it worked fine.

In your ds's case, as you say, it is hurtful to be excluded but, he had you to draw comfort from and has other invitations. That might not be the case with this particular 'difficult' child or other children who are often left out.

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 12:42:32

School playgrounds are minefields! I'm sure it happened to me and to everyone else that sometimes, you just don't get invited. I just think in this case that the girl will have a very big shock if she doesn't get an invite, since she seems pretty much obsessed with my child. And as I said before, its my child that has said she doesn't want her there, we were just going to bite our lips and get on with it up until that point. So many parents would just think sod it, I've got to look out for my own, I think we have been too soft sometimes thinking of everyone else's feelings when the most important person to us is our little girl. This other child has been nasty in the past which is why I am particularly wishing she wouldn't be there. She has said and done some mean things to both my children which is why my sympathy for her is a bit thin.

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 12:47:36

Thats a point slack I am not sure that this child has many other friends which is why she is so intense towards my child. Yet that intensity is spoiling things for my child and so who do I look out for first? My own or someone else's? Very tricky stuff. If she was just less intense it wouldn't be such a problem. It will be extremely difficult to control this child at a party. She is very demanding and forthright and just doesn't seem to bother/realise that she's being a bit cheeky to an adult. If she's that demanding to us how is she to my lo at school all the time!!??

bughunt Wed 09-Jul-14 12:47:42

My ds is one of those children who is often left out. It's a minor miracle that he has 2 other invitations at the moment. I think it's even more important that he learns that being left out out is just part of his life as this may not change for him.

I'm hoping I do this well, so his self esteem and confidence are kept high.

I would hate the thought of him ruining another child's party, but even more I hate a pity invite or an invite from a mum who thinks he should be invited rather than a child who wants him there.

The op's problem lies with the parents of this child though she is lovely to care as much as she does.

ILoveCoreyHaim Wed 09-Jul-14 12:51:05

Me and my friend have dds the same age brought up together. Mines the youngest of 3, friends is an only child. Both of us realise there is a problem. My dd is very sociable, friends will want my dd all to herself. School had them seated together and friend went in to ask them to seperate them. The school did but said awww they are best friends and very close. Friend realised this wasnt doing her dd any favours. She has movee away now and my dd has loads of friends but when they come bk dd will drop them like hot bricks to play with friends dd by themselves. Neither seem to like playing in a group and prefer to play together. Friends dd has improved since she has been forced to make friends. Doing the clingy one no favours keeping them together imo. Sounds like your friend knows there is an issue, as for the party invite her but tell friend to watch her dds behaviour. She should understanr

slackcabbage Wed 09-Jul-14 12:57:29

I guess the way I look at is, is by teaching our dc to include others, even if it's difficult, that's also doing right by them too (not immediately of course but in long term).

And yet Bughunt brings another perspective totally.

As you say, it's a tricky one. (Just to add though - I hope I would never ever invite anyone out of pity though, more a sense of fair play I guess.)

Agree parents of difficult child are the ones at fault here.

CheeryName Wed 09-Jul-14 12:58:53

DS had a friend like this who monopolised him and interfered with him making other friends. Luckily for us he moved schools. DS then really blossomed and I felt very guilty for not doing something sooner. He hadn't been unhappy as such - but it was like a massive burden lifted that we hadn't realised the size of before.

The friend is still a friend but out of school and more controlled. Plus DS is old and assertive enough now to tell him to leave him in peace! Friend has since been diagnosed with a few problems which I think were disguised by him clinging to DS so much, so it has done him good to separate too, because now he is getting proper support.

Sleepsoon7 Wed 09-Jul-14 13:05:13

Keepon - follow your instinct. I wouldn't invite her - but I've lived through several such situations and have learnt to toughen up. Parents can be worse than the kids and I regret now inviting children to parties to make my life at the school gates easier. We all hate our own child being left out, but life is like that, and that's where we perform one of our hardest roles in supporting our child to deal with disappointments, as well as making difficult decisions. Best way is to carry on as usual whatever you decide. Sackcloth and ashes is not a great look so shoulders back and weather the storm whatever works best for you..

defineme Wed 09-Jul-14 13:08:02

I would really recommend 'stand up for yourself and your friends:how to deal with bullies and bossiness' by patti criswell
it's a bit American, but it transformed the way my then 7 yr old dd dealt with bossy friends like this because it helped her find her own way of doing it -I had been telling her whst I would do but thst was no good because we are very different personalities.
As for the party- how many are invited? Awful if it's all the girls or whole class, but if it's just a few then fine not to invite her. If you feel you must then one parent can mind her to ensure yhingd go smoothly.

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 13:10:40

My dd is left out sometimes too, but I explain that everyone can't go to everyone elses party and she accepts it. She might be sad for a bit but she does get over it. I worry that this other child will get angry. When we have invited other friends to play and she finds out she has shouted why don't you invite me?! at my dd. And the one time she did come to play (so we could see how it all works) I overheard her telling my dd that other people wouldn't come if she didn't invite them! This was shortly before slamming the door in the face of my younger little girl and not letting her play - I was bloody livid! I opened the door and summoned every bit of patience I could muster and said very quietly, 'In this house we don't leave anybody out, we all play together or not at all!' Luckily it was time for her to go home so I had to leg it out and beg my hubby to take her back whilst I counted to 100 in a dark quiet room!!! She still demanded that she wanted to stay and sleep over after all that too! Err, no, its definitely time to go home....!!!
If it wasn't so heartbreaking it'd be funny!

CocktailQueen Wed 09-Jul-14 13:14:37

Personally I wouldn't invite her. It's your dd's party and you should think about what she wants. Yes, it might be a tough lesson for the other girl to learn but she needs to learn it -esp, if this has been ongoing for a while and you've tried to sort it to no avail!

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 13:14:57

I'm going to look up that book defineme I just got Queen Bees & Wannabes but not had a chance to read it yet and I get the feeling its more aimed towards older children.
as for how many, well we have that to decide. Ordinarily we would have just said for all the girls and a couple of the boys she is pals with but like you say, if you invite all the girls except one it seems even worse.

Sleepsoon instinct says run for the hills as far as this child is concerned!

defineme Wed 09-Jul-14 13:15:06

If she has been unpleasant to your child then be very careful - you need your dd to know that you listen to her and protect her.
my dtwins had to get used to not being invited to ones their sibling was and my ds1 has asd and was left out increasingly as they got older (though we were thrilled to get sympathy invites as ds1 had no awareness thst that was why he was invited and loved parties)- such is life

CocktailQueen Wed 09-Jul-14 13:15:40

Just seen your last post. Sounds like she definitely has behaviour issues that need to be nipped in the bud -doesn't sound like a very pleasant child or nice behaviour. What's her mum like?

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 13:24:45

I hardly see her. Just get text messages asking if she can come to play. I turn them down very politely. I should never, ever have handed over my phone number! If I had asked someone over and been declined that many times, I would stop asking!

To an outside person, it may appear that they are just great buddies. But they don;t see the tears at the end of some school days when something mean has been said, or the fact that my dds behaviour changes when around the intensive behaviour of this other child. She goes from mellow, to messing around in a second. I know all children are like this some of the time, its what children are like. But this child seems to be like this all of the time, in a very silly mood and literally just all over my lo. And when its all of the time, its not a good thing.

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 13:34:02

Just wanted to say thank you to everyone for your opinions. Its good to hear that people 'get it' and both sides of the story are put forward. I'm going to talk to my dd after school and ask her again what she thinks and how would she handle it when this child finds out, or has she already announced it to her? There you have the remaining problem if we don't ask - will this cause even more stress for my lo and how can we help her to manage it assertively, honestly and gently all at the same time!? Thank goodness for the summer holidays.

mummytime Wed 09-Jul-14 13:36:22

sorry its simple. Don't invite the child. You aren't inviting the whole class and leaving one child out, you are just inviting those your DD wants.

This is a key lesson for your DD. You do not have to like everyone. You do not have to invite anyone just because "otherwise they will get upset". If the girl asks why she says "sorry but Mummy said I could only invite 10 (or whatever)".
Being able to say No is a key lesson for all children to learn. Your DD's feelings are just as valid as this other child's.

Give your DD permission to have other friends, choose her own friends and say No.

slackcabbage Wed 09-Jul-14 13:49:48

It's not that simple though is it? To quote from the op "my child does actually like her generally" and "my lo doesn't want to hurt her feelings"

Got to dash out (in the pouring rain) and away from this thread now. It's interesting to hear everyone's opinions but have to beg to differ as I just don't like it when I hear of 7 yr olds being left out (not directing blame at you op btw - it's v. understandable how you feel in the circs). It's just that, how will she learn a different way if everyone avoids her? sad

YOu sound lovely op, hope it works out for you and your dd!

Definitely go with what your DD wants, year 2 is old enough to know who her top 10 friends are or whatever. Obviously it's not kind to invite 14 out of 15 girls or 29 out of a class of 30 but it doesn't sound like that's what you're doing anyway. Perhaps you could also help your DD find a way to explain how she feels when the other girl pressures her into playing exclusively with her? E.g. "I didn't like it when you tried to make me go upstairs at my last party because I wanted to play with all my friends together".

keeponkeepinon Wed 09-Jul-14 17:53:40

slack thanks that made me cry a bit! I hate to hurt the kid but I cannot stand to see the way it is going with my own little girl. It is literally breaking my heart to see her get pushed around even though she doesn't always realise it.

She came home from school in bits all sad because of a fall out and said please don't make me invite her. So thats that really. We've made a mixed up list of several boys and several girls and she'll have to accept it if (when) she finds out. We would accept it without causing a fuss so she can too. I was worried my lo might forget all about being upset with her and it all get flipped on its head again. They do fall out and make up but this is certainly a bit more complicated than that.
Apple I like this: E.g. "I didn't like it when you tried to make me go upstairs at my last party because I wanted to play with all my friends together". Perfect example. In fact, when she wants to chat about it again I'm going to mention this as something she can say. Its just honest. Its not being mean or anything, its just the truth.
Thank you all, we really have been in knots over this.

mummytime Wed 09-Jul-14 20:39:46

My DD has often been the 7 year old who is left out. I never hand parties for my DDs much above 12 friends in number. So someone is always going to be left out.
I have also had the "friend" who hangs around and begs for an invite (i felt sorry for her, she had a chaotic home life, I even once invited her as we had room, she didn't turn up unfortunately).

At 7 children are prefectly able to understand that sometimes they are not invited. And most children are fairly philosophical about it.

I don't like 1 child in a class, or one boy out of all the boys being left out. I also think it is sad when it is always the same child (but I accept it and wouldn't complain, even when it is my child).

slackcabbage Thu 10-Jul-14 13:46:48

sad Mummytime

glad you have come to a decision that feels right for you and your dd keeponkeepinon! Hope it goes really well too and your dd has a great time!

keeponkeepinon Thu 10-Jul-14 17:26:18

Not really, still wracked with guilt. ItsIts not that this would be the only child left out, I think she would have a shock when she found out she wasn't invited. Like someone said above, why have the parents not taught her not to be selfish and monopolise one child? Its their fault not mine.
So I still don't know really its a bit of an ethical dilemma!

slackcabbage Fri 11-Jul-14 14:16:00

Try not to feel guilty Keeponkeepinon. It's not as though you hadn't considered her feelings at all (which is what some people would do!). On the contrary, you've taken your time, consulted others and agonised over the decision.

Enjoy the party!

BarbarianMum Fri 11-Jul-14 20:10:42

I very much doubt she tries to monopolise your dd because she's selfish, I should think its much more likely to be related to a lack of social skills or social confidence. She's just a little girl trying to navigate her way through the minefield of playground politics.

You don't have to invite her and you don't have to justify your decision by being unkind either. If she was that awful your dd wouldn't have liked her at all.

Ohheavens Sat 12-Jul-14 21:12:02

Watching with interest, my DD (9) is in a very similar situation.

The other girl wants DD only to her self and sulks massively if DD plays with others at school.
Its definitely stopping DD having other friends.
She can also be extremely rude.

Other big problem for me is I am good friends with her mum. What to do???

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