My child is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Not both kids, but the one who seems to fall into trends the easiest; the one who easily falls in love with certain looks / styles / games / songs, the one who I will presumably have to keep a close eye on when she gets a little older. The rock is the desire to hang out with the “cool kids”, the hard place is the guilt of knowing that if she follows along, she is doing something that Mommy would not approve of.
Did I mention that my kids are only 5 and in preschool??
I only have the benefit of knowing this because her twin brother, who is a quintessential rule-follower and is in the same class as she is, will sometimes let his guilt tattle on his twin sister. I’m pretty sure that there are things that he doesn’t tell me because there’s an unspoken bond of protection between twins that not even Mom can break. But there are two situations where he cannot and will not keep his mouth shut – one is if he feels like she is being reluctantly influenced by the cool kids, the other is if he feels like she is doing something wrong to the OTHER kids in class.
“B got in trouble today at circle time because [cool kid] pushed her and the teacher got mad at them both…”
“B would not let [other kid] play with her and [cool kids] at recess, and [other kid] was sad and cried.”
Initially, I would ask her about it and she would outright lie.
“No, I didn’t get sent to the quiet corner today…”
“No, I wasn’t mean to the other girl…”
I explained to her that we won’t be mad if she tells us the truth, but that we would be sad and disappointed if she lies. I repeated myself.
“Did you get in trouble at circle time?” or “Were you mean to [other kid] by telling her that she couldn’t play with you?”
She would hesitate.
“Remember, Mommy and Daddy won’t be mad if you tell us the truth…”
“Maybe a little…”
I asked her if she thought what she was doing was right.
I asked her if she thought what she was doing was nice to the other kids in class.
Then I asked her why she did it.
“Because I want to play the fun games and [cool kids] play the fun games.”
In talking to her, she explained how some of the girls in class (AKA, the “cool kids) won’t let her play with them unless she follows along, doing some of the things she knows she is not supposed to do. She also explained how they told her not to let the “other kids” play because “they are all babies.” (Most of the other kids in class are a full year younger than she and the other “cool kids” are).
We had a conversation about how she can’t control the other kids from doing mean things to her (pushing her at circle time), but how she can remove herself from the situation. We talked about thinking twice before doing something that might hurt the feelings of others, and I asked her to think every time about how she would feel if she was in [other kid]’s spot.
I’m reluctant to talk to the teacher because I feel that learning to navigate the influences of other kids on her own is going to be a skill that she’ll have to learn as she gets older. Then again, I’m sensitive to the fact that if we don’t nip this behavior in the bud, my child could end up becoming a “mean girl.” So, I’m going to wait it out a little bit; letting her think about her actions and trying to do what we discussed. In the meantime, I’m totally going to take advantage of the fact that my son can be my secret “eyes” in the classroom and if I don’t hear that she is making progress, I will address it with the teacher then.
This is 5…I really thought we had another 5 years before “peer pressure” ever became a real issue.