My daughter, Maya (5), has been experiencing a lot of hurt and sadness at school recently. Her “best friend” who has been in her preschool class for 3 years has been “really mean” and saying things like, “If you don’t do ______ I won’t be your friend anymore.” I know the other little girl very well, and she seems to have a lot of built up fear inside of her and seems to feel powerless. For example, her parents have been trying to hold the limit of “If you don’t eat your dinner, then you might be hungry later because there will be no snack.” This little girl responded by eating a magnetic rock and then needing surgery. I have mentioned HIH to her parents before when they asked for some suggestions. When I am with the little girl, I have to do almost constant playlistening to keep us (and my daughter and her) connected.
So Maya comes home from school at best sad and hurting, and on harder days angry and fighting (though not able to tell me why – I have just learned why). I try to listen and be empathetic, but I’m honestly not sure what to tell her TO DO. She wants to stay connected, or re-connect during difficult times with her friend (“you know, how you stay with me when I’m mad mommy”), but I don’t think (having spoken with them a few times) her teachers have the capacity/understanding to make this happen without being punitive to the other girl (“bully”).
I’ve told Maya what a kind, loving heart she has to want to be with Chloe when she is mad, but how hard that is to do when her own heart feels hurt. I told her that it’s so hard, that it’s really a grown-up’s job to do that for kids. Then she said, “I know, but you’re not there!!!”
I’d love to hear suggestions on how to support Maya through an HIH lens. I want her to feel like she can protect herself and make choices that will keep her emotionally safe (“I can’t walk away, then she cries until I come back or says we aren’t friends anymore). But, I also don’t want to alienate her friend, or show judgement/criticism toward her.
First my apologies for not getting to you sooner. Our internet was down for a few days and we’ve had a big emotional project going on over here.
You are such a good awesome Mama in the deep way you support your daughter. I just re-read the lovely story you shared in your last post about the great staylistening work you and your husband are doing with Maya. Well done, good parents!!! She is so lucky to have you. Having YOU is what is going to help her move through this tough time.
And this will come as now surprise that the first thing for you to DO is take this to Listening Partnership. With your Listening Partner work on the idea that I Can’t Fix This. In this kind of situation, I’ve found it very powerful to work on our old sense of powerlessness and old messages we got that we are responsible, it’s our fault, we need to fix it, if we could only be good enough, then… All of those old messages and hurts tend to clog up our thinking, creativity, playfulness and especially our ability to be present with our kiddo. We are too busy trying to tamp down our worry to be able to think and be present.
That doesn’t mean do nothing. It means TRUST that you are supporting your daughter really well. You are even supporting this little girl whenever you can. So you can TRUST that your support is enough – even if it doesn’t seem to change the circumstances right this red hot minute.
Then you just keep doing MORE of what you are doing – lots of Special Time; lots of rough ‘n ‘tumble play where you take the LESS powerful role and let her easily conquer you. You want to pour in safety and connection and counter her own feelings of powerlessness.
Look for places to Set Limits where you might normally do a ‘work-around’ because it’s faster. Your husband did a beautiful job of that with the pillow case. Give her every opportunity you can to connect, play with you and tantrum.
You might see if she’d like to play “school” or “recess”. Let her tell you who to be and what to do . She might choose that way to work on feelings around this. I’m not a big fan of “getting out the stuffed animals and role-playing” That’s imposing your ideas on the situation. I much prefer to let things unfold and trust that her limbic system will let you know if things are hard.
As for what to DO at the school, we do have a plan for working with a classroom on feelings around being excluded. You might share this with the school and see if they would be open to doing this plan.
Then, a Mom shared her success story – she got IN the play to transform it.
But the most important thing is for YOU to get Listening Time and work on the idea “I can’t fix this”
I have no doubt that your beautiful girl is going weather this just fine with your support.
Let us know how it goes…
Peace & Smiles,
Hand in Hand Certified Instructor
Conscious Child-raising Creating Cooperation and Peace
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“If we are to teach real peace in the world, we shall have to begin with children” – Gandhi