It’s natural for me, should I have a problem in my life, to look at animals and how they overcome similar obstacles. For example, when I fell pregnant with twins, I researched animals that have multiple babies and how they cope with that extra pressure. This time though, it’s about my eldest daughter, who’s struggling with making friends at school.
It was very easy for me to imagine her being bullied, isolated and her desperately trying anything to fit in at school. I know all about pecking orders in the animal world and being down the bottom is not a nice place to be.
I didn’t want that for her.
Coping with your child being isolated
My first instinct is roar at the little girls who wouldn’t accept my cub into their pack. I didn’t, of course, but I wanted to.
When Miss six would come home telling me that she’d played alone again that day, I’d lick her wounds and cuddle her close and tell her how much I loved her. It was pure maternal instinct to want to protect her from the big bad world of social hierarchy.
However, humans are slightly more complex than other animals, and although I had a couple of ideas of my own on how to combat the problem, I’m very glad I consulted these three ladies for guidance.
Jackie from My Little Bookcase
Kate from Laughing Kids Learn
Pauline from Lessons Learnt Journal
How to help your kids build life-long friendships
In the Google hangout below, I was their guinea pig and they gave some very valuable advice on helping my six year old daughter build friendships and life-long skills.
This video is exactly what I needed to contain my inner lioness and give me real strategies to move toward.
So, what can animals teach us about building friendships?
Animals make friends too and there’s one tip that wasn’t mentioned in the video above. The saying ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ doesn’t just apply to humans. Social animals are always helping each other, whether it’s by keeping each other warm in winter or grooming parasites off each others’ coats. When we need help, it’s always nice to know someone’s got your back.
I’m not suggesting your child should groom nits off the heads of other children at school (although perhaps that’s an option we should consider, lord knows I hate doing it!). In the animal world, friendships are born through mutual help and respect. By teaching daughters to respect others, be kind, friendly and helpful, I hope to see her increase her chances of making more meaningful and lifelong friendships.
Armed with the tips from Jackie, Pauline and Kate, and taking into consideration my knowledge of animal social interactions, I’ve already seen a vast improvement in my six year old’s confidence with her fellow school mates. I can only see it getting easier!
Has your child ever struggled with building friendships at school?
Jo (down to eath mother) says
Doesn’t it make your heart break? My son is a “loveable brute” – he’s the silverback male roaring at everyone and beating his chest. Many kids baulk and run away – he often clears the pool of all other children – and all he wants is for them to play with him. I’ve learnt to hang back and let him find his own way, and he’s learning how to approach potential friends. It’s fascinating to watch, but so hard!
Great post! x
I love the image of you roaring at the girls who didn’t play with your daughter – but I’m glad you didn’t do that!
[email protected] In Progress says
I hope your little possum starts to enjoy recess and lunch more now! What great ideas. I am not a mother yet but I do worry about how to handle this situation if it happens, and it probably will since it happened to me. Jumping over from grace’ FYBF
Janet @ Redland City Living says
It breaks my heart when it happens to my kids! Miss 16 has had a bit of rough ride through high school – she was bullied (including cyber bullied) by two former friends in about Yr 9; even now she is finding that she no longer has much in common with school friends as all they are interested in is drinking and partying, and she’s not. Fortunately as she’s in Year 12 there’s only a matter of weeks to go and she doesn’t have to see them again (I should mention she has a very healthy friendship group in our church youth group).
Danya Banya says
I had a lot of problems with making friends at my primary school, and some of it I attribute to getting bad advice from adults. Both my mother and my grandmother were ‘loners’ so I’m sure they thought they were helping to arm me to be a loner too. My mother used to say ‘no friends are better than bad friends’ which I took to mean that I should build a wall a mile high and not let anyone get close. (And I don’t know who she meant as ‘bad friends’ – I mean, we’re talking about a bunch of 6 year olds!) It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started to ‘learn’ how to make friends and how to be a good one, and it’s something that I’ve been building on ever since. I think there is a bucket load of great advice here that I wish that I (and my mum) had received when I was little and going through this difficult time. xx
Penny, I’m so sorry to hear about Miss Possum’s hard time adjusting to school. I know what a caring, fun-loving little girl she is, so it must be hard for you.
It’s interesting to note how so very different we are to animals when it comes to social interaction. Just that unconditional, instant trust and respect they have for each other. We’re always so in awe of it when we see gorillas or chimpanzees looking after each other. Yet, we don’t apply it ourselves so much, do we?
Emily @ Have A Laugh On Me says
It’s very hard to watch your children go through this – my daughter is a little too sensitive and sometimes can’t understand why everyone doesn’t want to play with her and be her friend. Animals, they actually seem to ‘get’ it more than we do I reckon
[email protected] says
It does break your heart doesn’t it but she is so fortunate that she has a loving mother who is there through the good and the bad and that’s a wonderful thing. We can’t fight their battles for them but we can give them the right tools to go into battle can’t we. AND we can be there to bathe the emotional bruises from time to time. Good luck Poss.
Parenting Pod says
this is a good read. mother is always been good in protecting her cubs.