Friendship problems and an upset dd [long](9 Posts)
My dd is having a bit of a time at school at the moment. She's 8 yo and is in y3. It's entirely relevant to state that dd is pretty much top of the class across the board - and is gifted and talented in some areas - and is excelling in a number of extra-curricular activities too.
Since reception, she's had something of a love/hate relationship with another girl. This girl is also intelligent and like dd, successful in most areas. She's also a very strong character whereas my dd can be more sensitive. This other girl, lets call her F, is incredibly jealous of my dd's achievements - which she is generally very quiet about - and has been really quite awful about them to the point where dd was wanting to give up a much-loved hobby that they share. Mercifully the organisers of the hobby worked swiftly when I spoke with them so that's all fine now.
F is sarcastic, rude and tries to take dd's best friends away from her (they've backed this up when the teacher spoke to them). She accuses dd of lying about anything she's done outside of school, swimming badges for example. F shoved her out of the way last week.
I'm not friendly with the mum who has also been staggeringly rude to me, for example commenting unkindly on what dd eats, making a fuss to me about the part my dd got in a play and will talk over me to other parents.
The class teacher is involved, as is the pastoral support manager, but F is targeting dd at break times and lunch, and when dd tells a dinner lady she's told to go and play nicely. Dd has been told to tell her teacher - I was there at the meeting - but she's finding this very, very difficult. Moreover, it's a significantly large primary that they have specialist staff for some sessions so she can't always.
I'm trying to teach her coping mechanisms, but I'm at a loss now, and I'm heartbroken that my dd, who loves to learn, doesn't want to be at school.
Do you believe your dd is being bullied by F? If so:
1. Keep a diary of incidents
2. Ask for a copy of the school's anti bullying policy
3. Follow it/insist the school follows it.
Make a note of who you've spoken to and what has been agreed. Confirm this in writing (email is fine) following each meeting. Chase up if not working/done.
It will also help your case if you stick to the facts, rather than speculate on motives - after all it makes no difference how sensitive or talented your dd is, or what F feels about it. Behaviour is either acceptable or not.
Dd feels she is being bullied, so yes I guess she is.
I think I'm trying to speculate on motives because I can't understand why she'd do this.
Very bright children often want to be "top dog". They think they have all the best ideas and should be recognised for all their talents - egged on by their parents. As you say, it is jealousy of your DD and this girl sees your DD as a threat to her position. This girl is not a "friend" but other children will be in awe of her and will want to stay friends with her. Often the less "look at me" child will be excluded from playground activities by the "Queen Bee" child and the others will go along with it for obvious reasons.
I find it interesting that your DD is still fascinated by this child. She clearly cares about what she says. Perhaps keeping quiet about swimming badges is a good idea? My DDs never talked about dancing exams, piano exams and swimming badges because they were nothing to do with school. It would have been viewed as boasting. It sounds like there is too much competition between them. (I am a higher achiever at X activity than you are).
In a large school, there must be other pleasant children. However, if other children are feeling less good about themselves because your DD is so gifted, in lots of areas, this could make them wary of being her friend and sticking up for her in the face of adversity. Instead they take the easy route and stay with the Queen Bee.
ls it not possible to foster friendships with other children at the clubs and in the classroom? Often other children do not like to see a child targeted by another one but can stand back if they think they will upset the Queen Bee by befriending your DD. I do think your DD needs better support from the playground supervisors and all the teachers on duty should know about the situation. I think it is bullying and you should see the teacher again if the strategies are not working. I would also be confidant that this will sort itself out when they all mature a bit. My DD eventually realised competing with the Queen Bee was a waste of time and other children were nicer. Try and invite pleasant children round to tea and see if new friendships can develop.
Do you have any friends among the other parents? Coffee perhaps? Try and build up a supportive network. Avoid the rude mother like the plague! If she moves towards you, make an excuse and move on! Or you could shout over her! Whatever makes you happy!
Dd offers information about her achievements when asked: why shouldn't she. She certainly doesn't go marching round the playground boasting, but this girl does. Dd realises that not everyone can excel at everything - for example telling me all about a little boy who is a whizz at times tables and how great she thinks that is - but F doesn't seem to get this. Or so it seems!
She does have lots of friends including some very close ones who have been sticking up for her. I have plenty of mum friends and good support,
The competition between them is absurd and I think it's coming largely from F's mother: I've been badgered by her asking how something is going that they both do (how much she does, does she struggle) and was confronted when the girls were split up doing their shared hobby.
I tell dd to keep away from her but she says she'll be the one who gets told off: there's also been quite a serious issue with F getting upset in playground after dd told F she didn't want to play, and Y6 children getting involved and being unpleasant to dd.
Oh I feel for you. My DD (now Y5) was always the best at maths in her year and, in a very small class, the only girl at the "top table" for maths. Some of the other girls had very, very strong personalities (that's what the school called it - I have another word beginning with "B" and ending with "ullies!!), and were often jealous of her achievements. After 6 months of, to be frank, Hell, we moved her to an all girls' school where she is happy and thriving.
I know from experience that avoiding someone in school who is bullying you is often almost impossible. However, you have said that she has lots of friends, as do you - that's worth its weight in gold (my DD was utterly isolated which the bullies took great pleasure in). Our saving grace was our wonderful friends outside school who, quite frankly, couldn't care whether you were pink, green, purple or orange, as long as you were a nice person.
Your DD has done nothing wrong. If she has achieved something outside school then I believe that is to be celebrated, both in school and out. You must, must, must push this within the school. Camp out outside the Headteacher's office if necessary (you know what I mean). Contact the governors (often the mere suggestion you might do this does wonders). For us, ultimately, the only option left was to move schools, but you shouldn't need to do this when you're the victim. Best of luck.
I don't think moving schools is an option as there aren't really any options! It's likely they'll end up at the same high school but the way I view that is they will have either a) sorted themselves out or b) can just completely move apart from one another.
I do feel sorry for F though: she seems to be under enormous pressure at home to achieve, achieve, achieve and her mum has made it quite clear that F has the edge. One amazing example from swimming lessons: for a while, both dd and F had swimming lessons at the same time but with different teachers. F's mum spent the entire 30 minutes quizzing me on what dd had done in the way of badges and watching her technique like a hawk. The swimming coordinator happened to come over to say hello at which point F's mum started demanding to know what the difference was between the two classes and was dd's more 'advanced' (I think it was, just slightly), and if so, F needed to be in it. He was suitably floored by that. It was so embarrassing.
I'm aware of how drippy I'm coming across here .
I've had a somewhat similar situation. The solution was a mixture of social skills classes (ELSA?) for my dd and some of the other quieter girls in the class, maturity and a new teacher this year who clocked the dominant girl as a potential bully immediately and has been very hot indeed on behaviour management for the whole class.
The previous years' teachers were NQTs who (it seemed) didn't realise that the crying and accusations of being horrid were a way of deflecting attention from the fact the child was doing the bullying.
It's made a massive difference - my dd now has some friends. I hadn't realised how much this other child had been preventing that, and blamed it all on my dd's lack of social skills.--bad mum--.
We also have the academic issue, and I'm wondering if the school shifting away from ability groupings / tables this year has helped, too. Though it's still fairly obvious who is doing the more challenging work, but the fact the kids choose their own level of challenge maybe makes it less divisive?
By celebrating all this achievement it seems to drive the other Mum on with her agenda. My children didn't celebrate their outside achievements in school. No-one did! Lots of children were sporty, spoke a MFL, were good at dancing and gymnastics, had umpteen Brownie/Cub badges and excelled at music. We just kept a lid on it. F is clearly under pressure. If your DD has friends and you do too, then the only way forward is to ignore F and for you to explain why to the school should they be worried. Celebrating achievement is only making things worse in my view. We were a bit more humble and my DDs were never asked about their hobbies - by children or staff. We just got on with school, at school.
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