Preschool Peer Pressure

Welcome to the March 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Tough Conversations

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have spoken up about how they discuss complex topics with their children. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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When I read the topic for this month’s Carnival of Natural Parenting, I thought it was going to be a cinch. Tough conversations? Peanut has that nailed down to a science. It seems like every day she’s asking me something incredibly awkward or weird. I mean, she’s a{n almost} four year old, for goodness sake! She’s asking questions about her Great Aunt that died a year and a half ago. She wants to know where our other kitty went. She recites to my mother how women bleed out of their vaginas every month. She asks why she doesn’t nurse anymore. As I said, piece of cake.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized talking about the awkward things has been a piece of cake for me. It just hasn’t been a big deal to explain to her why some words aren’t appropriate for her to say or what the dog is doing when she’s licking herself down there. I’m not an easily embarrassed person. I am good at talking about tough things like death matter-of-factly. Then it came to me, the one conversation that I’ve had a hard time addressing. The other little girls.

Peanut will be four this month, so you’d think it’s too early to have to worry about cliques. You’d think that all of the boys and girls in her preschool would just run around happily and play, but that’s not the case. Every day she comes home there’s a drama about one little girl. Of course, this happens to be Peanut’s favorite little girl.

We’ll call her Sam.

Peanut’s first day back at preschool was exciting, but also terrifying. Within moments of entering the class, a little boy yelled at her and she started to cry. So when I little girl walked up and offered to show her around, I thought it was the best thing that could happen that day. That little girl was Sam.

Sam is a year older than Peanut, but in the preschool 3 and 4 year olds are together. They quickly became great friends and I was happy for it. The problem is that Peanut is a child of habit, and when Sam didn’t want to play with her one day at school, Peanut was not so happy. From what I heard, there were quite a few arguments because Peanut wouldn’t stop following her around the playground.

This was just the beginning. Since then, they’ve had what I describe as a love-hate relationship. Sam always runs up and gives Peanut a big hug when I bring her to school, but that’s no telling how the day will actually go.

From watching Peanut (there’s a one-way mirror), she doesn’t take it too hard when Sam won’t play with her in class. She doesn’t even play with Sam every time that Sam is being friendly. She has many friends at her preschool besides Sam. The problem is that when she gets home, Sam is the one she talks about.

It started one day with her saying on the way home that Sam wouldn’t play with her today and it made her sad. We talked about who she did play with and how she had fun anyway. Since then, there have been many conversations about why Sam won’t play with her some days.

I’ve tried to explain that sometimes we just get tired of playing with someone for a while. I’ve told her that she’s a great kid to play with and Sam is missing out when she doesn’t want to play with her. I’ve tried talking up other friends who don’t sporadically decide not to be her friend. All of it is to no avail. She keeps not understanding and I’ve run out of explanations.

It all gives my flashbacks to when I was in Junior High. For whatever reason, a group of three girls decided I was (and a couple of my friends too, but I was the main target) their enemy. They spread rumors and called me horrible names in the halls, even though I’d never even kissed a boy. I soon started to have panic attacks and miss school, later transferring to a different school. I started to see a psychologist (who I still occasionally visit, like when I was dealing with my PPD). Throughout all of it, I remember my own mom being often at a loss of what to tell me. What do you tell your little girl who just doesn’t understand why someone can’t be her friend?

So here I am, feeling like I’m at the beginning of watching my own little girl go through problems with mean girls. Feeling at a loss of what to tell her when one of her favorite people in the world tells her to go away. How to I broach the subject that sometimes people are just awful with a four year old? Why is this starting so soon? Isn’t four too young for cliques? Or is this just the beginning?

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon March 12 with all the carnival links.)

  • A Difficult Conversation — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is keeping her mouth shut about a difficult topic.
  • Discussing Sexuality and Objectification With Your Child — At Authentic Parenting, Laura is puzzled at how to discuss sexuality and objectification with her 4-year-old.
  • Tough Conversations — Kadiera at Our Little Acorn knows there are difficult topics to work through with her children in the future, but right now, every conversation is a challenge with a nonverbal child.
  • Real Talk — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama explains why there are no conversation topics that are off limits with her daughter, and how she ensures that tough conversations are approached in a developmentally appropriate manner.
  • From blow jobs to boob jobs and lots of sex inbetweenMrs Green talks candidly about boob jobs and blow jobs…
  • When Together Doesn’t Work — Ashley at Domestic Chaos discusses the various conversations her family has had in the early stages of separation.
  • Talking To Children About Death — Luschka at Diary of a First Child is currently dealing with the terminal illness of her mother. In this post she shares how she’s explained it to her toddler, and some of the things she’s learned along the way.
  • Teaching 9-1-1 To Kids — Kerry at City Kids Homeschooling talks about the importance of using practical, age-appropriate emergency scenarios as a springboard for 9-1-1 conversations.
  • Preschool Peer PressureLactating Girl struggles to explain to her preschooler why friends sometimes aren’t so friendly.
  • Frank Talk — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis unpacks a few conversations about sexuality that she’s had with her 2-year-old daughter, and her motivation for having so many frank discussions.
  • When simple becomes tough — A natural mum manages oppositional defiance in a toddler at Ursula Ciller’s Blog.
  • How Babies are Born: a conversation with my daughter — Justine at The Lone Home Ranger tries to expand her daughter’s horizons while treading lightly through the waters of pre-K social order.
  • Difficult Questions & Lies: 4 Reasons to Tell The Truth — Ariadne of Positive Parenting Connection shares the potential impact that telling lies instead of taking the time to answer difficult questions can have on the parent-child relationship.
  • Parenting Challenges–when someone dies — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about talking to her child about death and the cultural challenges involved in living in a predominantly Catholic nation.
  • Daddy Died — Breaking the news to your children that their father passed away is tough. Erica at ChildOrganics shares her story.
  • Opennesssustainablemum prepares herself for the day when she has to tell her children that a close relative has died.
  • Embracing Individuality — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy addressed a difficult question in public with directness and honesty.
  • Making the scary or different okay — Although she tries to listen more than she talks about tough topics, Jessica Claire of Crunchy-Chewy Mama also values discussing them with her children to soften the blow they might cause when they hit closer to home.
  • Talking to My Child About Going Gluten Free — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama concluded that her family would benefit from eliminating gluten from their diet, she came up with a plan to persuade her gluten-loving son to find peace with the change. This is how they turned the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle into an adventure rather than a hardship.
  • How Does Your Family Explain Differences and Approach Diversity? — How do you and your family approach diversity? Gretchen of That Mama Gretchen shares her thoughts at Natural Parents Network and would like to hear from readers.
  • Discussing Difficult Topics with Kids: What’s Worked for Me — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares parenting practices that enabled discussions of difficult topics with her (now-adult) children to be positive experiences.
  • Tough Conversations — Get some pointers from Jorje of Momma Jorje on important factors to keep in mind when broaching tough topics with kids.
  • Protect your kids from sneaky people — Lauren at Hobo Mama has cautioned her son against trusting people who’d want to hurt him — and hopes the lessons have sunk in.
  • Mommy, What Does the Bible Say? — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work works through how to answer a question from her 4-year-old that doesn’t have a simple answer.
  • When All You Want for Them is Love: Adoption, Abandonment, and Honoring the Truth — Melissa at White Noise talks about balancing truth and love when telling her son his adoption story.

8 thoughts on “Preschool Peer Pressure

  1. This is hard, and I do not feel like I have anything useful to contribute. My son has been in similar situations, but it is more because (I think) he is so hesitant to join in the play of others. Coming from the position of being on the outskirts of those cliques myself, I wish I could protect all kids from feeling left out
    ~Dionna @ CodeNameMama.com

  2. Peer pressure and group identification are difficult at any age. There is only so much a parent can do. And we hope that it will be enough.

  3. Oh man… I hate this. I remember struggling with it when I taught preschool. 3-4yolds can be just as fierce and catty as 13-14yolds.

    As a mother to a 2yo girl, I fear this day. I went through it, painfully, and I know in some way she will too. Homeschooling is an option on the table for us for many reasons, and I won’t lie; this is one of them.

    I don’t know if this would help much, but I found this post very powerful and inspiring in dealing with a daughter’s struggling self-confidence.

    http://shelovesmagazine.com/2013/sheponders-mean-words/

  4. Oh, I wish I had advice! I’m dealing with the same with my 3.5 year old. She doesn’t get why people sometimes don’t want to play with her and it’s been known to make her cry. She is VERY bossy and very dominating though so I sometimes think that’s why. It pretty much runs in the family, but I’ve had 30 something years to learn when to take a step back – she still has to learn those lessons. I guess we can’t protect them from everything or they won’t grow, but we can be there to at least let them talk through what they’re feeling? If we’re there now then hopefully when those real mean girls come along later, our girls will have the freedom to speak to us then too?

  5. when my daughter was 2,5 we went on a weekend with her niece and nephew and two other kids. The two oldest girls were donright mean to her, simply because she was the youngest. She obviously didn’t understand this behavior, as we live in rural Africa and kids aren’t mean to eachother. I was very pregnant at the time and found myself having to look after all those kids all the time… It became so nasty in the end that even I broke.
    I told those girls to wonder how they would feel when someone older would be treating them that way. I told them that because they are older instead of teasing, they should be helping and caring for the little ones. I told them their behavior was really nothing to be proud of.

    I ended up crying, having to drag my daughter- who really didn’t understand any of it – out of there. The two girls also became upset but stopped their teasing the next day.

    To this day it hurts when I bring this up.

    I am happy we live in Africa and that this behavior isn’t normal among kids

  6. Oh I totally relate! Abbey has a friend at preschool (or two or three) that she comes home with “preschool peer pressure” stories about. “Brooke said nanny nanny boo boo I won’t play with you! So then Maddie and I played without Brooke. We said she couldn’t play with us”. And when I drop her off the next morning, Brooke runs to Abbey for a hug. I just explain to Abs that we should be kind and safe and honest with all of our friends – and she hasn’t had any days thankfully that she’s been too broken up over something that happened. It’s hard, watching your child grow into relationships with peers, because you want to protect them and help them always. We just have to remember that in loving and nurturing kindness in them that we’re helping them all the time!

  7. Ah, that’s so hard. You’re bringing flashbacks to me of junior high, too! Why can even little kids be so dang mean?

    When Mikko was in preschool, he was obsessed with one little “bad” boy (as he kept referring to him; not sure where he picked that up), and it was the same sort of thing where clearly he could just avoid this boy, but he couldn’t stop thinking and talking about him.

    Anyway, I have no suggestions for you, just hopes that your support will help your daughter through any future meanies life throws in her path.

  8. Poor Peanut. <3

    I hate those sorts of talks and dread the in the years to come. We've had a little show of it at a local play place — Miles will chase after kids who won't want to play, until he comes tearfully back to my table to declare, "My friends don't like my anymore!" Its so hard to explain that not everyone is a friend, and not everyone wants to play.

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