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I need some advice about my 8 year old DD who is being bullied by her best friend

(7 Posts)
missykix Mon 12-Oct-15 22:02:00

My DD is 8 and has ASD (aspergers) and is in mainstream school. Since Year 1 she has been best friends with another girl in her class, I'll call her Emily. It has always been quite an intense friendship, partly because DD has always been a bit obsessed with her.

There are also 2 other girls in the friendship group, however they are more friends with Emily than with my DD.

They are now in Y4, and as tends to happen around this age, friendships are changing.

Emily is a popular girl and always has lots of friends to choose from. I think her and DD are gradually growing apart, but they still, for the most part, play together in a group with the 2 other girls most of the time at school.

However, Emily is now displaying some 'mean girl' behaviour and it seems to be targeted towards my DD. It's the usual stuff- ignoring DD and whispering to the other girls and getting them to ignore her. Laughing and rolling eyes at her. Running away from her. Telling DD she isn't her friend one minute, and then telling her she is the next. Lying to her. Lying to her friends and teachers to get her into trouble. This has been going on since around Easter.

I know this is fairly typical behaviour for Y4 girls, I remember it myself. However I do think it is bullying because it is directed at my DD who just doesn't have the social skills to even work out what is going on. Emily is quite socially adept and popular, whilst DD is massively naive and immature. She doesn't understand why her friends are ignoring her and just follows them around asking "why won't you answer me" whilst they snigger at her. She believes her friends would never lie to her. She gets really confused and anxious and upset, but doesn't really understand what's going on. This lead to 2 massive meltdowns at the end of summer term, and it looks like it's going that way again...

I also realise that Emily might be being like this because my DD is hard work. She isn't a easy person to be friends with, and maybe Emily doesn't want to be friends with her any more, but doesn't know how to end the friendship.

So basically, for all these reasons, I think DD and Emily need to end their friendship. But DD will always be a loyal friend to Emily, regardless of how she treats her. And Emily seems to be happy to string my DD along, being a good friend one minute and a mean one the next. I also think DD realises that if she wasn't friends with Emily she would have no friends (because the other 2 girls in the group would ditch her too). So I'm getting nowhere with trying to get DD to move on.

What do you think I should do? I've spoken to the school about this twice but, whilst they acknowledge DD has friendship problems, can't really stop DD from playing with Emily if she's choosing to do so herself.

For further info, DD is quite isolated because of her ASD, doesn't attend any out of school clubs because she can't cope really with anything else after a day at school. She has no interest in making friends with anyone outside of Emily and the 2 other girls in her group.

2boysnamedR Mon 12-Oct-15 22:39:01

Look up your schools bullying policy. Bullying isnt just mean words and hurting. It's exclusion too.

Point that out to school and get them to talk to Emily (sounds mean but been there myself and that worked). Emily needs to know it's not ok. They don't need to name names or single anyone ( Dd or Emily) out either. Then ask school how they can help Dd to expand her social group. Sitting next to new people, reading or working with new people.

School did this with my Ds and it felt very mean, but it did help ( took a while).

They should have a policy anyway to follow.

Most kids can be quite mean. My eldest boy was picked on for years by one boy who got others to pick on him too. My Ds reacted which I guess they enjoyed. He did punch someone ( the shame!) it stopped for a bit but then they goaded him to the point he almost got excluded. It was horrible. The school wasn't constantly doing the same thing. Head walked into the class one day and asked everyone to stop picking on Ds.

So they started off well then they cocked right up. Horrible.

missykix Tue 13-Oct-15 12:46:24

Im sorry that happened to your DS sad I agree kids can be mean, and seem to good at spotting the vulnerable ones to pick on.

I'm not sure it would fall under bullying policy unfortunately. This is just seen as typical behaviour in this age group - girls fall out and make friends again all the time. She isn't be excluded completely, and they will play together nicely a lot of the time.

The teachers don't see any mean girl behaviour going on either, it all happens at play time or lunch time or outside of school (when we've met up in the holidays etc).

Emily will lie to the teachers to get out of trouble and be smiley and polite - and DD says they always believe her. DD will get into trouble because she is the one shouting and screaming.

DD does sit next to different children in class but refuses to (or can't) be friendly to anyone outside of these 3 other girls so that isn't particularly helpful. The teachers have tried to get her to play with other children but she refuses.

She is very fixed in the way she thinks and behaves and it's almost impossible to get to see things differently, as I'm sure many parents with a child with ASD will understand <sigh> sad

AgnesDiPesto Tue 13-Oct-15 21:45:32

Does your DD know she has AS? Is it something she is willing for teachers to talk about with other children e.g. when she is not there? If so then that can really help. It may mean other children in class will reach out and include her more. Research has shown talking to and 'training' peers can help a lot.

I sort of agree that just labelling this as bullying and talking to Emily probably isn't going to resolve things - & you are right it is not untypical behaviour especially where one child is considered less cool.

My gut feeling would be that someone needs to coach your DD how to cope with these situations. Because they are likely to crop up from time to time. I had a similar situation with a friends son who doesn't have a diagnosis but is clearly (to me) AS. The school did loads of nurture groups etc which didn't achieve anything - things only improved once his Mum decided to teach him rules of what a friend is and isn't, how to recognise mean comments etc and what to do in certain situations and role play / practise them. That took a lot of coaching. Because before that he was getting upset and lashing out and then getting in trouble for hitting other kids (even though some of the boys were deliberately winding him up to make him lash out). The school couldn't see he was being manipulated by the other children to lose his temper. There are lots of books about social skills or perhaps there is a local autism professional who can do some social skills coaching?

My DS is more severe ASD and we have always had to be open about his difficulties as its so obvious he is very different - the teachers have always explained to the other children about him and about autism and as a result he has never been bullied and if anything we have the opposite problem that he is too mothered by other kids.

I honestly don't think its a big deal for other kids if its explained sensitively.

Meloncoley2 Tue 13-Oct-15 22:06:04

I would put my energy into building up your DD's self esteem, by focussing on her strengths and talents. I would also make sure she could extend her friendship circle such as brownies/guides /martial arts /choir etc

missykix Tue 13-Oct-15 22:32:46

Yes DD does know she has ASD, in fact she talked about it in front of the whole class recently, although I'm not sure how much the teacher explained it to the other children.

I have spent a lot of time this evening talking to DD about what has been happening. I explained that even though someone is your friend, they don't always treat you in a kind way and gave examples.

It was really difficult firstly because DD just got really upset, and kept putting her hands over her ears saying "you're trying to hurt my feelings" and "I don't want to talk about it". She either doesn't recognise that her friend is being unkind and that she is doing it deliberately, or she doesn't want to believe it. She'd rather believe the lies that Emily tells her.

It doesn't help that the teachers have COMPLETELY mishandled previous incidents. For example Emily was being unkind to DD, DD was upset and told the teacher. The teacher questions Emily and Emily says it isn't true. The teacher says to DD "do you think it's possible that you misheard what Emily said?" and DD agreed that this was indeed possible (being completely literal of course) and the teacher then said "so you're telling me that you're lying?" and DD got into trouble!!!!

Because DD misreads situations and misunderstands peoples intentions she totally can't tell if people are being unkind, and even if she suspects they are, she doesn't trust her own feelings because either people will lie to her about what has just happened and she believes them, or teachers will tell her she's lying and she's got it wrong.

I just feel this is just beyond her capabilities at the moment. She doesn't receive any professional help with social skills as there's none available. I do my best with her, we have books on social rules and skills aimed at her sort of age group and I do what I can. But it is honestly like trying to teach a blind person to read a book when they can't even see it!

ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH I just feel so angry about this because it is destroying DD's self confidence (not that she has any anyway) causes her so much anxiety and makes her school day even more difficult than it already is, and it's bloody hard getting her in some mornings she hates it that much!

missykix Tue 13-Oct-15 22:41:12

Meloncoley2 DD can't attend any after school clubs like brownies because she can't cope with anything else after a day at school. We have tried some in the past, and some on weekends but it causes meltdowns and refusal to go and she didn't make any friends any way. In fact she got pretty much kicked out of choir last year (they suggested she wasn't cut out for it) because she wasn't singing when she was supposed to and they were worried about their show.

She does attend one after school club based at school (childcare on the day I work late) but apparently she doesn't play with any of the other children, she prefers to play alone, and she absolutely HATES going and cries every Wednesday morning because she doesn't want to go.

I have tried and tried with this, I honestly have, but I can't do it for her!

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