In the course of a school year, your first grader will likely have his share of run-ins with mean kids. He may find himself
targeted by the school bully, but it is even more likely to be a matter of friend-gone-foe. Your child's best buddy announces
I don't want to be friends any more. Your child is devastated, comes home in tears, and needs your help to make it better.
A first grader's primary concern is that she has someone to play with. She is learning how to make new friends, and her choice of friends may change from day to day. If she wants to play with someone new, she may tell her pal of yesterday that she doesn't want to be friends--often in words that are hurtful or abrupt. Friendship conflicts in 6-year olds can also be triggered by:
Mean kids are often just regular kids who are dealing with normal developmental issues and trying to figure out the rules of
friendship. To get a more in-depth look at how first graders approach friendship,
take a look at this article on first grade social development.
1. Have your child draw what happened, or draw what she is feeling. Your first priority is to help calm your child down and find out what happened. This can be easier said than done. Drawing can help her settle down enough that she is a little more able to talk about it.
2. Ask some "I wonder" questions. Wondering is great because you don't have to know it all, you don't have to cast the other child as bad guy (you'll want to, but it doesn't help), and it opens you up to new possibilities you may not have thought of before:
3. Get involved only when necessary. Sometimes it will be necessary. If your child is complaining about mean kids day after day, you will need to talk to a parent or teacher. If your child was physically hurt, you will have to get involved. But for everyday friendship conflicts, it is often best to just stay out of it. Getting a couple of upset parents in the mix can escalate a situation that would have resolved itself quite naturally and peacefully on its own.
4. Equip your child for future conflicts. It is not enough to say, "Don't play with Jack any more; go make some new friends". These issues will come up over and over, and teaching your child what to do in those situations will give her the tools to handle these. Do encourage her to branch out so she has more buddies to fall back on, and help her choose friends who make her feel happy. Give your child key things to say when there is a conflict: