April 25, 2014 in Features

Carolyn Hax: As mom, job is to help daughter learn

Washington Post
 

Hi, Carolyn: My daughter is in seventh grade. Her best friend brags a lot about her grades (“I got an A” … said with a sing-songy voice). Same best friend has issues with perfectionism.

My daughter is an all-A-and-one-B type of student so far, which is fine with us.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to help my girl deflect the bragging, yet I think she’s loath to say any sort of “quip” in retort, because perhaps she knows instinctively that this girl lives for A’s. I don’t want to teach my girl to be mean or to ditch her friend, but I also don’t like seeing her be “made” to feel bad for not getting all A’s. Any ideas on how to deflect bragging short of dumping the friend? – H.

Wait – dumping the friend? Quips? Who’s the middle-schooler here?

To the extent your daughter invites your help, provide her with chances to understand her friend’s motivations better. “What would motivate someone,” you can ask her, “to stoop to nanny-nanny-boo-boo taunting of her own best friend? Is tearing someone else down the behavior of someone who feels good about herself?”

If she says yes, then the next question presents itself: “Is that what you’d do, if you got an A and she didn’t?”

A “no” answer at either point signals a lesson learned by your daughter that she can, on her own, learn to apply in real time as she deals with her friend. Revisit as needed.

If instead you get yeses, then you note that you’re disappointed by her answer, because you expected her to understand as well as anyone how it feels to be on the receiving end of such taunting.

Then, again, you back off and let her work on this in her mind and on the ground as she navigates her friendship. Friendships are emotional laboratories for kids. Don’t take over the experiment just so your daughter gets an A.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.


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