13 June 2011

young cliques


Here in New Zealand they have introduced a before school check with your local nurse. Included in the booklet to complete is a questionnaire, one copy for the parent(s) to complete and one for your child's kindy or preschool teacher to complete. I completed mine while the other copy was at kindergarten so I wouldn't be swayed or influenced by what the teacher wrote. On receipt of their copy I was pretty shocked at a few of the observations the teacher had noted, which went against what I had noted here at home. And the one that stood out for me was that it was 'somewhat true' that Lucy was being bullied or picked on. Imagine it! I appreciated the teacher making note of it, as I'm sure it would have been far less fuss to just say that it wasn't an issue, but it kind of shocked me.

I spoke to the teacher about it at pickup today and she very tactfully elaborated that there are a few tight-knit groups and Lucy is not always successful at breaking into them. I've noticed these cliques before, and was shocked at how early they form (I am talking 3 and 4 year olds). Lucy tends to get on better with the quieter, gentler kids, and this clique I mentioned is comprised of very outgoing, flamboyant girls. I would really rather Lucy didn't care about joining them but she is very social, and loves the interaction. The teacher thought, and this is my translation of her tactful explanation, that they take advantage of her and make her do things that they could otherwise do themselves. My husband isn't reading much into this questionnaire but I am pretty riled. I mean, imagine where she's older. I know how mean some girls can be.

I was bullied a little at school. I recall one girl, when I was 13 or so, who would walk really close behind me, for very long periods of time. Like a silent shadow. It was quite intimidating, and I still remember her name, and what she looked like at the time (squat body, no-neck). Troll.

Do you have any advice on raising confidence and esteem in young children, or any good books to share? I've noted down a few to look at, and I also wonder whether a drama-type class might be beneficial also.

As Patrick Swayze said "Nobody puts baby in the corner".


  1. I worry about this with my 4 year old. She is a very sweet and caring little girl. Thanfully her teachers in school haven't mention anything to me. But I worry when she begins kindergarten. I haven't read any books, but a friend of mine has read (she recommends) Growing Strong Daughters. She is religious and the book does have a religious outlook. I haven't read it, but I'm curious to read it and any others books that can help. Wishing you all the best!

  2. I started reading a book today which mentions the difference between cliques and groups. Having read that section I am surprised the teachers haven't done anything about it. It must be happening to other children too. The group I mentioned is such a closed group, and I really don't think that should be encouraged in kindergartens and schools. This book suggests pairing different girls together for set activities, which would be so easily to implement.

  3. I found Growing Great Girls by Ian and Mary Grant really brilliant, if you haven't read it. I worry about my daughter too (who must be about the same age as Lucy) and I think it's not so much about making them more outgoing but instilling pride, confidence and a strong sense of self. Easier said than done, right! Encouraging things they love and are good at is helpful.

    I remember wanting to be friends with the 'cool' girls at school too. Bbeing a girl is hard.

  4. I've worked with bullied teens, but not littlies. With the very cowed self-esteem work was good, for others simply a change of school worked better than anything, different groups, individuals, dynamics etc.
    In some ways being subservient to a domineering group/individual is healthy, perhaps the safest option-what might they do if she were to stand up for herself? but obviously is not so good in the longer term if it becomes her only way of relating to others.
    Hope you find a solution x

  5. Sending good thoughts to you and Lucy. she is terrific. The shadow thing sure sounds weird. i had similar experiences as a kid and poor self esteem so was not adept at addressing on my own. The girls in the cliques are the opposite side of the same coin. keep going and you will reap many rewards. I do not know books to suggest just encouragement. I mean there are adults who will take advantage of us if we let them. All in how it's handled and I know you and Lucy will prevail.

  6. At 4 my daughter would come home complaining so and so was not her friend that day...nearly every day it was one or the other of her "best friends". Always seemed early for that kind of talk to me and the teachers agreed. I didn't go to preschool myself but I do know that sort of cliquish behavior didn't start 'till age 7 or so...it's as if they mimic girls a bit older than themselves...sad. I too want to check out growing great girls.

  7. I have that book Ella, and now I will dig it out! Thanks for the reminder.

    I got out from the library yesterday this book: http://www.amazon.com/Little-Girls-Can-Mean-Bully-proof/dp/0312615523

    The difference between a clique and group is interesting. The former is counter-productive, and the latter the opposite for a number of reasons. There are cliques at Lucy's kindy - so young to be forming those types of behaviours but they're obviously modelled on something or someone (TV perhaps).

  8. ~Hey Catherine,
    I would be with you,I am quite the mama bear when it comes to dealing with gits who pick on my kids,I don't care how old they are and to be quite frank,the leaders of these cliques learn it from their parents ,well in my cases the parents are the ones who like drama and high school nonsense still,at 30-40 years old!.I don't have time for them so I don't care if I piss them off:0)
    ~First off I arm my child with some quick one liners to shut the bullies up,we practice at bath time,example,"are you sure you're in the right class because right now you are acting like a pre-schooler"! and if things get really heated and mean (i will probably get flamed for this!) Issi has used "shut your mouth or i'll shut it for you" i don't encourage physical means by any length but I also don't encourage just don't hit back,and i'll tell you what,since she said that second one a few times she has been left alone,
    i'll email you a lenghty-er version if you like:0)
    hang in there,i too am dreading the teenage years,especially with Griff,he is such a sweetheart,such a big hearted boy,Ollie on the other hand will probably smack 'em and ask questions after:0)

  9. Ouch...Poor Lucy. How sad to think bullying starts so young and that it exists at all. I believe self-esteem is always the key. Asher is a quieter spirit and she enjoys going to Art Class as she loves to draw. It gives her loads of confidence developing a skill that she has a talent for. The class only has 5 children in it and she feels secure and confident.A small Drama class could be lovely for Lucy and give her a chance to shine. Could you invite one of the girls from Kindergarten that Lucy likes over for a play date? One on one might be a little less daunting. Good luck and always trust your instinct.

  10. My niece is 12 and she dealt with that from daycare on. There was always a group of girls that would try to exclude her. It was shocking at time the way they would treat her.
    Her daddy taught her some one liners and they would joke about what she WANTED to say, but then they practiced what she SHOULD say. Her Mom did the same.
    She has gotten pretty good at standing up for herself when they start being mean spirited.
    Recently one of the girls was really mean about a cute outfit my niece got shopping in "the big city" (they live in a very small town) so my niece didn't want to wear it anymore. A few weeks later the mean girl showed up in an outfit that was very similar.
    My sister kind of goes overboard making sure she is in dance classes or on the cheer team (she is really good at both so she isn't being pushed to do something she hates) and throws a big birthday party each year but I don't think those things worked as well as my niece learning to stand up for herself has.

  11. My gosh, that sounds familiar. Firstly, no I'm not sure of any books and honestly, I think they would just encourage you to bolster your own child's confidence as much as possible, not much you can do about that kind of behaviour. Both my girls have been affected by similar situations. Leila is doing a second year of 3 year old and is 4 years old so older than the other children. These girls, are a lot of them only just 3 to 3 1/2 and I regularly hear them saying to one another "you're not my friend" or "you can't play with us". I have to say it sends me CRAZY! I cannot comprehend how children of that age develop that attitude and I refuse to accept that it is in any way NORMAL. My girls would never speak to anyone that way and if they did, they would never do so again. That is learned behavious as far as I'm concerned. Managing it is tricky, because it's hard not to do so without setting your own child aside even more. I try and say things like "not everyone is as thoughtful as they should be" or "I don't think someone who speaks that way is being a good friend, so you should play with someone else." It's hard though, it really is. You can only encourage them, reinforce how special they are and that true friends will really appreciate them. Of course, when you're a child, that probably doesn't count for much but what else can you do. If you come across anything interesting, let me know.


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