My posting has been a bit scattered as I’ve been preoccupied over the last five to six months working to improve my daughter’s health and well-being. I have mentioned to my friends that when our children are happy, then we are happy. The same is true when it is the opposite! This has been the case regarding my daughter for the last 5-6 months. Her father and I have been trying to find the source of the issue so that we can work on a resolution but it has come with much frustration (and tears!). We have not been able to locate the source of her unhappiness until just recently and it breaks my heart.
My daughter is in her last year of primary school – her friends are ones she has had since Kindergarten or even pre-school. This year is also a confusing year due to hormones and the body changing – puberty/ pre-puberty. As a result, the girls are changing as well as their behaviours. I’ve been observing my daughter and her friends over the years – they are all lovely girls but lately some of their behaviours have not always been so lovely. This has caused my daughter to be very unhappy – to the point of losing her appetite which is a great concern for her father and I. My daughter is petite, she always has been and cannot afford not to eat – she is very active so needs her nutrition for energy.
I am saddened by what is happening and that it is affecting my daughter in such a detrimental way. I do not accept the ‘girls will be girls’ or ‘boys will be boys’ mentality because you cannot stereotype and assume the behaviour that every girl or boy is explained by this statement. I feel this is what evolves and becomes an issue in high school and adulthood especially in the workplace. It is something that I feel needs to be addressed when our children are young to prevent these behaviours occurring as they get older. We advocate that women should support and encourage each other in the workplace but yet it is not happening in the school yards. The saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ is very true in advocating the type of behaviours in our children that we would like to see in adulthood.
I have explained to my daughter that I hope that her and her friends support and encourage each other as they get older as this is very important. Her father and I have also explained that if a girl is not being nice to another friend, then it is sad for that particular child. We’ve also explained she does not need to feel she should display the same behaviours if she does not agree. We’ve explained that friendships can change and that is okay, she may feel saddened by this and that is okay too. We’ve also said that things make her too upset, she can advise her friends so they are aware of how it makes her feel. We’ve suggested to bring a book to read quietly on her own or her sketch book to draw as she enjoys art. This way she can remove herself from the situation and ensure her well-being is not affected.
This situation is new to my daughter and I am saddened that she has to become accustomed to it but as her father and I explained to her, she needs to make sure she takes care of herself. She needs to ensure she isn’t affected detrimentally by what is happening outside her control. My daughter is very loyal to her friends and doesn’t like what is happening. She also doesn’t want to be a part of the drama unfolding. She knows what she likes and doesn’t like and I feel she is conflicted as they are all her friends. It is a learning phase for her and also for us as parents.
I feel it is important for us as parents to display the behaviours that we would like our children to display. As their first role models, their behaviour is learnt from us. However, it’s not always easy! As parents, we are also human and often emotions can get the better of us and we may display frustration or behaviours that we are not proud of either – it’s a learning curve for us all!
As a parent though, it is heartbreaking to watch your usually happy, cheerful child become sullen, upset and not enjoy things they used to – whether it be food, activities, outings, family gatherings, etc. As her parents, we hope we have caught it early enough and can maintain the open communication with our daughter to ensure we can help provide strategies so she is able to cope with what is happening around her. It’s early days and we are starting to see an improvement but we are still waiting to exhale!
I hope that no child is affected detrimentally by the behaviour of others, as a parent it is not something you wish on anyone. I hope by sharing this experience, it helps us to continue to Laugh. Love. Live! We are working through this one step at a time and waiting to get to the other side – maybe a little scarred but hopefully stronger as a result. As the Dalai Lama said; Do not let the behaviour of others destroy your inner peace. Wise words from a wise man and it is something that I am yet to master especially in regard to family! Peace and blessings!