As a child I had girl problems. I was shy, I was weak, I did as I was told and I never questioned people. I became an easy target and whilst I did have a little bit of a spark that refused to be put out, for the most part my schooldays very quickly made me a shadow of my former self. They were my worst days and it has taken me fifteen years to move on from them. Almost. I’m still a work in progress. When I became a mum, one of my biggest fears became my daughter going through the same experiences.
So, here we are. Holly is five and nearing the end of her first year at primary school and already has gone through her own girl problems. Already. And my old feelings have resurfaced. I want to teach my daughter strength, confidence and the ability to stand up for herself, but often I feel like a hypocrite as I hardly hold those skills myself.
There have been a few incidences at school, one which revolved around one girl in particular telling people they couldn’t play with her, or they couldn’t go to her party. The usual five year old drama. Holly was unfortunate to bear the brunt on a couple of occasions and was upset to go back into school. My heart broke a little bit.
Fortunately the teacher nipped it all in the bud and it seemed to die down, but lately there have been more problems arising. Sadly I learnt Holly was on the other side of the fence. She was the one making someone else cry. She was the one telling someone she didn’t want to play with her.
I hadn’t seen it coming.
In my bid to teach my daughter resilience, had I taken it too far?
It turns out that Holly wasn’t trying to be mean, and was in her rights to try and get a bit of space from a girl who was getting a bit too much, but I worried a lot that week on how I was going to get my child to understand her words were hurting others. Holly is quite a sensitive girl and I was surprised at her actions.
I’ve explained to her as best I could that you may not always want to play with someone, or even like them some days, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be nice. Having said that, if someone is unkind to you then the best thing to do is telling them you won’t accept it and walk away. Of course at this age, this involves basic words and trying to explain these more grown-up concepts in a way they can understand. But I think she got it.
When I look back on it now, in a way I’m actually glad Holly has gone through these experiences so young. To me, the earlier you can learn to deal with confrontation and how to handle differences between friends, the better. Young children are still learning every day and these are important life skills I want her to grasp. And what better way to master them than with practice?
My hope is as she grows she will actually experience more times like this so she can practice these skills, meaning when she is grown and dealing with life’s downright nasty characters she will have the strength and character to handle them without it breaking her. To me that is one of the most important life lessons I want my daughter to learn.