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I'm rubbish at conflict/confrontation - need to help my DD be better at it than I am! Re issue with my best friend's DD

(13 Posts)
JessiCake Tue 25-Apr-17 10:40:29

My best friend's DD and my DD are the same age. (both 4.5)

For clarity, I'll call my best friend's DD Amy and my DD Bridget.

Amy is, how do I put this, an extremely belligerent child. Has form for pushing, spitting, but more generally is quite verbally aggressive, the sort of thing I'd expect from a much older child (eg 'You're not my friend and I don't even like you' out of the blue, not even in the context of an argument)

(I'm actually very fond of Amy btw, she has a really sweet side but is VERY difficult at times)

My own DD, Bridget, is a different kettle of fish in that she's got a hot temper when frustrated but tends to play well with other kids. Amy is pretty much the only child she has conflict with but by God it's big conflict when it happens!

For example, they were playing with each other at the weekend, just me supervising them in the house and trying to keep as much of a back seat as possible as (with other kids at least) my own DD is much better at negotiating/handling her emotions if I'm not there for her to appeal to.

I was keeping an ear out though as I know there is often trouble with them.

THey were playing with dolls and the conversation went something like this:

Bridget: Let's each have two dolls and they can all be princesses.
Amy: OK. But one of yorus has to be the maid.
Bridget: No, I want both mine to be princesses too. This one (grabbing a different doll) can be the maid
Amy: No, one of yours has to be the maid
Bridget: No, that's not fair! I want both mine to be princesses! That one can be the maid.
Amy: No, one of yours has to be the maid.
[at this point I run in because I can hear Bridget about to lose it]
Bridget: Mummy, she's saying one of mine has to be the maid!
Me: OK, well, look, why don't you both have two princesses because that seems fair and another one can be the maid if you want a maid...
Amy: No. I want her doll to be the maid. Her doll can't be a princess.
Bridget: [makes INCOHERENT RAGING SCREAM, RED FACE...]

Bridget ran off crying...

It was just exhausting and it's a frequent theme when they play. Amy won't compromise on ANYTHING and sets some genuinely unfair and arbitrary rule, Bridget (my DD loses it and ends up being the screamy shouty one in tears...)

Long example but I really need advice. I was brought up ALWAYS to give in to somebody else's desire, no matter HOW unfair/unreasonable, and it honestly left me a bit of a mess in later life (imagine that upbringing and attitude when you're a teenage girl encountering boys who want you to do things you don't want to do... it didn't stand me in good stead frankly. Plus I've often been utterly walked over in 'friendships' because of it. I do not want the same for my DD)

Honestly, not trying to think my child is a perfect angel (she's not) but frankly I think Amy's demand was completely unfair and I could really see why it frustrated my DD. There was no reason to insist that DD's doll had to be the maid, another doll was available for that, DD did suggest that pretty calmly at first, I honestly struggle to see why Amy refused (apart from the fact that she's 4. And we all know 4 year olds can be unreasonable and territorial. But they're also supposed to be slowly learning to compromise, play together etc and this is what always happens when Amy and Bridget play together.)

So my question really is: over a seemingly trivial matter, how can I begin to set DD down the right path of not feeling obliged to kow-tow to somebody else when the demand is unfair? What I told her on this occasion was that she MUST not scream like that, that was totally unacceptable especially when Amy was our guest, but that I understood why she had been frustrated. But I was then at a loss to know what else to say to help her when it (inevitably) happens again. Apart from keeping her temper in check (which she must learn how to do) what are good conflict-resoution techniques for small kids to begin to learn?

I do feel that she tried a bit of this with her suggestion that another doll could be brought in as the maid... but when that broke down in the face of Amy's refusal, what could a 4 year old do next that ISN'T screaming blue murder but also ISN'T just giving in?

It's a perpetual problem as my best friend is more like my sister and even if our girls aren't best pals themselves (which is fine) it would be nice if they could learn to get along. They're both strong personalitites, maybe they're just a bad combo. But it's highly illustrative of a real parenting issue that I feel badly-equipped to solve/navigate, and if there's one thing I want for my DD it's for her to be assertive (politely so) and not a pushover the way I've always been.

But I'm RUBBISH at it myself and feel I'll mess it up for her in the long term if I just tell her, for example, the way my own mum would have done, to let Amy force DD's doll to be the maid etc etc...

This was soooo long I'm really sorry. And I get that it sounds bizarrely trivial over 4 year old playing princesses. But it honestly is a long-term concern for me and I think it starts when they're this small.

justwait Tue 25-Apr-17 10:43:21

If she wants her over to play then she's just going to have to toughen up a bit. Wait till they get to 14 hmm

justwait Tue 25-Apr-17 10:44:33

All I can say is that my dd2 is extremely popular and people just like her straight away. She would have been the maid but made the maid really cool.

JessiCake Tue 25-Apr-17 10:44:38

Oh gawd what happens at 14? shock

JessiCake Tue 25-Apr-17 10:45:16

justwait, now that's a great idea...

Justmadeperfectflapjacks Tue 25-Apr-17 10:48:05

Maybe intervene and put the dolls away? Dolls don't want to play with all that arguing!!!
Suggest something else. . When they realise fighting over the game results in it ending they may think twice.

JessiCake Tue 25-Apr-17 10:50:01

Thanks flapjacks... it's pretty much what I ended up doing (and then stuck the TV on for a bit for them both to get their minds off it...)

PandasRock Tue 25-Apr-17 10:56:48

It is difficult when there is a child who just will not compromise, ever.

My dd2 has a similar problem with a non-compromising friend, and she finds it really difficult. Dd2 is (also not an angel!) generally happy to compromise/take turns, but finds it is often her friend's way or no way.

She is just beginning to be able to stand her ground if it is something really important, but be aware this does then sometimes end in a huge argument over 'making a huge deal out of it'!

I would try to get her to suggest a neutral activity if compromise doesn't work - an 'agree to disagree' situation.

Racmactac Tue 25-Apr-17 11:36:33

I guess you need to tell your dd that it's ok to say. Well that's not fair and I'm not playing dolls with you anymore then.
Absolutely the screaming is not acceptable and you need to teach it's ok to get angry and frustrated but maybe next time you give her the words to say and the right to walk away from situation she is not happy with.

JessiCake Tue 25-Apr-17 11:50:10

Thanks everyone.

That's great advice Racmatac and honestly the sort of thing that just doesn't occur to me. I will absolutely say that to DD in advance of my friend coming over next time. Great advice thank you.

Also PandasRock, agree to disagree is perfect and again something I'm terrible at doing. I never had a single argument with a friend ever in my childhood or adolesence as I was so terrified that if you disagreed that person would never be your friend again (I had some terrible parenting from my mum on this front tbh and it did a lot of damage). Good words to live by, agree to disagree. Thank you.

Yellowcups Tue 25-Apr-17 11:57:32

I thought your daughter handled it well. The outcome wasn't going to be great because of your friends little girl who quite frankly is not nice. I would introduce another child and cut back on play dates.

The whole your my friend/not my friend, you can't come to my party happens with both sexes from preschool onwards. Often spoken out of the blue and usually with those who have siblings but in my sons case not.

If it was my son, I would suggest to him that if other children are not sharing or being fair then he should stop arguing about it but say loudly, "child you are not being fair and you are not sharing," . Same if they are being hurt, "child stop kicking me". To say all these things loudly so teachers and parents can hear.

At this age they are starting to learn how to play and play well so they are going to need some help. Let your daughter know that's it's ok to not play with someone if they are being rude etc. She stood up for herself so you should be proud.

LiarLawyer Tue 25-Apr-17 12:46:27

You have to let her fight her own battles sometimes and not interfere otherwise she will never learn her lessons.

waterrat Tue 25-Apr-17 14:27:56

I think 4 year olds still need some adult involvement in their play so you are over thinking this a bit. Just step in and tell them thst they need to play nicely or do something separately for 5 minutes. You can still tell them basic rules at such a young age.

You sound overly anxious about something very minor - are your projecting an issue of your own? The basic rule of life is thst kids will decide for themselves who they like playing with and bossy kids will eventually find they aren't very popular.

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