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Lost my temper with my 10-year-old’s friends

Published: July 26, 2016 | By | 10 Replies Continue Reading
A mom feels mortified after she loses her temper with mean girls and their moms.



I need advice on how to handle a situation between my 10-year-old daughter and her three friends. We moved to the school two years ago and in the beginning she had a really hard time with girls being mean to her. Last school year was a little better but she still didn’t really make any good friends. This year (4th grade) she finally made two good friends. All year, they’ve been really close, a few play dates here and there. They talked all the time on their iPods when at home and were inseparable at school.

There’s a third girl involved that is really controlling of my daughter and has spread a few rumors recently that my daughter is talking about the other two girls. I work in the lunchroom and see some of this stuff first-hand.

The other two girls’ parents are in the “mean mom” group as many of us call it: Brand name clothes, luxury vacations a few times a year, beautiful houses, spend hundreds of dollars a month in various health club memberships, the list could go on. All material stuff I know. But we struggle a bit financially.

Anyway, the past month my daughter has been crying everyday at lunch and running to me after school crying, saying they are being mean to her, leaving her out, etc. My daughter is just like me; very sensitive, so many she takes things the wrong way.

What happened at lunch

A few weeks ago her two good friends got invited to a concert and that week, all they talked about leading up to it, was the concert. My daughter felt left out and would cry. I think this is where their friendship started to fade.
A week goes by and they are still leaving her out and she’s getting upset.

At lunch last week, I had had enough and unfortunately blew up. I started yelling at the whole group of girls. There were also other girls sitting there, too. I didn’t pin point to any one girl. I was just saying my daughter comes home everyday crying. What is going on? You guys were all such good friends and this is so sad. Your guys had no drama up until a few weeks ago, etc.

One girl wouldn’t stop crying. I apologized and kept saying I’m not just blaming YOU, it’s the entire group. I asked if my daughter has been acting any differently. She said no. I called the girl’s mom afterwards and told her what happened. She said she would have a talk with her. And we’ll either have them talk it out or just not hang out anymore.

The other mom texted me the next day to ask what happened. I told her. She didn’t respond until the following morning. And just said she got feedback from her daughter and we’ll have the girls talk it over this weekend. (We had plans to maybe go see a movie this weekend, but had never decided on a day). I told her to let me know what day works.

Well, she texted me on Thursday, today is Sunday and I haven’t heard anything. The girls haven’t talked to my daughter since I blew up on them. We are all in Girls in The Run together. The mom (of the girl that was crying) is also a coach with me. She was being cold to me.

I don’t know what to do. I feel like such an idiot for blowing up on them. They probably think I’m a crazy lady and now I just ruined my daughter’s friendship even more with these girls. Do I approach the moms and ask what’s going on? I told them multiple times that I know my daughter isn’t innocent in this but something is going on.

I have another friend at the school that was going through the same thing and those parents have arranged for a get-together with the kids and the parents of the mean kids.

I’m not getting any kind of feedback from the parents here. What do I do? I’m literally sick over this and haven’t slept all week. I’m embarrassed at myself for yelling and I feel horrible for my daughter because I thought for once, she had friends and now I blew it for her.

I’m scared for her. She has always been an angry kid, towards her sister. But to her friends, she let’s them step all over her. I know she’s going to start acting out at home even more now. I keep asking if she’s talked to them and she says no. I asked if it bothers her and she says not really. But I know that’s not true. She blows up really fast (like me) so it’s hard to have a sit down with her and get any true feelings from her.

I’m sorry this is so scattered. I’m really sad over this whole thing and I hope you can give me some good advice.

Signed, Greta


Hi Greta,

The situation you describe is quite complex and I’m not sure if these friendships are salvageable. I can understand how upset you must have been. The best thing you can do now is offer your sincere apologies to the girls and their mothers for how you conducted yourself, without qualification.

You might say something like:

“I’m sorry I got in the middle of the girls’ relationships and for how I talked to them. It will never happen again.”

No excuses or explanations—just complete acceptance of responsibility for your actions. Apologize to your daughter, too.

I’m sorry that your daughter is hurting. Given the contrast between the way in which she behaves at home with her sister, and the way she behaves at school, I think she might benefit from a few sessions with a child therapist to help identify difficulties she may be having with her relationships and/or in expressing her feelings. You also might want to speak to your daughter’s teacher to find out what she has observed at school regarding your daughter’s socialization skills.

Your daughter is at an age where kids start maturing at different paces and often in different directions. Her friendship groups might change a lot over the next few years. There will likely be tears and drama, which is common for adolescent girls.

Some advice:

-Rather than trying to solve her problems, ask her what she thinks she should do or say, and role-play with her.

-Validate her feelings, while trying to stay out of the details of the arguments.

-Talk to her teacher and/or guidance counselor if she’s crying every day at lunch.

-Seek professional support to help your daughter better identify and express her feelings.

Hope this is a bit helpful. The summer should provide a nice respite from the drama and give you and your daughter a chance to regroup.

Signed, Amy Feld

*Amy Feld, PhD, MSW has trained and worked as a child psychologist.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this or any other post is intended to substitute for medical, psychiatric or clinical diagnosis/treatment. Rather, all posts are written as the type of advice that one friend might give to another.

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Category: Child and adolescent friendships, Helping children deal with friendship problems, KEEPING FRIENDS

Comments (10)

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  1. Whitby says:

    i agree with a lot of the other advice, including Amy’s: an apology is definitely in order, therapy for your daughter is an excellent idea, as is encouraging her to detach and distance herself from “mean girls” and their shallow, vicious culture. Seeking to please mean girls ends up making adolescent and adult women “other-oriented” as opposed to authentic and self-reliant – and that’s not a good way to live. But there is one more factor that no one else has addressed, I think: it’s that you apparently blew up while on the job in the lunch room? Did I get that right? That’s why I think an apology is in order pronto – for even though motivations abound in your private life for such an outcry, I don’t think it’s appropriate for someone on the job. And I can imagine that in some contexts it might be grounds for a dismissal, especially if a parent or parents complain that “the lunch lady” was verbally abusive towards their child/children.

  2. Tracy says:

    actually, although you reacted to all this, I don’t agree that you owe anyone an apology. Just because a mom hits the end of her fuse doesn’t mean she thinks her own kid is an angel compared to the others. Sure we see mainly one side, but I doubt you have done anything unwarranted. So you’re getting the cold shoulder? Sounds like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I think i would definitely talk to the teachers and admit what happened and ask what they advise a good way forward to be.I would also stop hashing this out in your mind, and infact act friendly enough and confident around these childish women and their kids. Spend some time reaching out to other girls and help your daughter connect elsewhere. I absolutely believe when this type of thing happens, a parent should be involved -4th grade is very young. Letting her figure everything out alone seems a bit much at this age. Encourage her to shake it off by modeling that behavior too. Kids watch us! So yeah, she saw you lose it and she can learn that we can move on after a meltdown too. I honestly wouldn’t apologize for this – I would let it stay. If you apologize they feel entitled to carry on being mean. Just let it go and move on emotionally and look elsewhere for connection.

    • Claire says:

      I agree completely about not apologizing, as they will use it as justification to carry on the meanness. The apple not falling far from the tree is exactly right. Best to try to find kinder friends, but it can be hard in a small community. Good idea to discuss with the teachers. They should be aware of bullying, which this is!

  3. PeachPie says:

    I understand the sentiment mom, but as you may already realize, I think you are over-involved. That’s okay though, we mothers live and learn just like they do.

    By labeling the other girls as “mean girls” (and their mothers too) you have it firmly in your mind that your kid is an innocent angel in all this. And let me tell you, chances are you are wrong. If she “acts angry” with her sister then chances are these friends were on the receiving end of some of that, too. If the other girls said she was talking about them, chances are she was. You might see a little bit in the lunchroom but you didn’t see it all. Chances are your kid too has been, is, or will be the one in a “mean girl” group with someone else’s angel running home in tears every day for a spell but she won’t tell you that part. Just for possible perspective there…

    That said, I recall a time at about that age when my kid was on the receiving end of all that mess. One of the ringleaders came by our house on his bike and seemed to be trying to make up with (or sneakily mess with him some more, who knows) my “angel” (who, come to think of it, also had no problem being nasty to his sibling, either- indicating oh yes, he too has the “mean kid” streak in him even if I don’t always see it). Anyway, I was watering the flowers and I still remember how much it took not to turn the hose on the little snot. Well, I may have inadvertently got his little cloven hooves a bit damp accidentally…

    Instead, I (mostly) made our house fun and gave my son a popularity boost in that way, as well as coaching him on what to say and encouraging him to bring home a different friend or get involved in a different activity when things weren’t working out.

    If your daughter sees mom acting like this is a giant tragedy, that ramps it up and may actually be contributing to the crying and other drama. Kids can ALL be mean (ours too) and drama can be irresistible to them. Instead, consider an attitude of “meh, who needs them” or “you’ll probably all be friends again soon,” and encourage her to go in a different direction and bring a new friend home after school.

    About the other mothers and such, it’s over so why not just let it be over rather than bring it into focus again. Also, just because a child cries doesn’t really change anything and it can also easily be a learned way to get what they want (I know a fifty year old woman who still manipulates with tears). Don’t overreact to crying (your kid’s or someone else’s kids). Try just casually waving or asking the mother who is mad at you how she’s doing (without mentioning all this because it’s over) and she’ll probably come around after a while. Good luck. Remember, this is only junior league practice for when their fights are with their dreadful teenage boyfriends. :p

    • Amy F says:

      I agree completely. It’s hard to have perspective and see the bigger picture when you’re over involved.

  4. Suzyq says:

    Dear Greta,

    My heart goes out to you. You have been put in a difficult situation to say the least, and on top of that you are trying to protect and fix the problem for your daughter, who I can see from what you wrote, you love a lot.

    Amy’s advice is really good advice to follow. She is spot with the advice, especially with a few sessions to strengthen your daughter inside, with a child therapist, giving her skills to deal effectively I would think.

    Unfortunately someone is always the target of mean girls, still hasn’t changed. Perhaps it’s even worse now. Fictional shows in the media in my opinion glamorize and grow our girls up even earlier. Some of these mean girls and bullies in adult settings don’t grow up emotionally. Mean girls and bullies, boys or girls in my experience make themselves feel better by demeaning other: anything that makes you slightly different, no matter how insignificant and and who that person feels they can be aggressive to – with the most chance of winning against if in a “stand-off” to win the prize popularity prize.

    The skills building with the child therapist and also you doing some role play is great to help your daughter find her own voice, and good suggestion as Amy advised.

    Mean girls never change, but in changing ourselves we can protect our children and give them skills to be strong in life and value their own self worth – above fitting in with others.

    My suggestion about those girls and their mothers – forget them. Use the summer constructively to help your daughter move on and make new worthwhile friends: look for any other activities that will help her to meet girls not associated with the mean girls group, your local area and at school she attends.

    Once back at school if she’s still finding new friends to be with at lunch etc, find anything to occupy her at free time away such as, band practice or track, basically anything giving opportunity to make new friends.

    Truly, these girls aren’t worth trying to cultivate any friendship for your daughter. Their behaviour isn’t acceptable, and from what I can work out, they won’t behave any better. Your daughter’s self-esteem shouldn’t be at the mercy of them. Sadly their parents obviously want to fit in with each other and peer pressure from what you have written: money, house location or social circle. If these parents have seen how your daughter has been treated and they aren’t trying to assist , they won’t do a thing to help resolve the situation. Peer pressure to conform in society cliches like this when their child could be bullied or left out next, your daughter was the example to them, sadly they will do nothing and leaving you and your daughter out in future plans.

    If they can’t understand that their daughters have been mean and unfair I’m sure you don’t want her sense of worth being dependent on them being nice to her? I think as you took the time to write into to this website you are not as shallow and want more for your daughter than that. From my own experience of listening to other moms talk at a social craft group about their daughter’s awful behaviour just towards them, truly I wouldn’t expect it to change, or you to be welcomed back. Sometimes the apple doesn’t fall to far from the tree, whether it is from a parent or grandparent’s behaviour.

    Something that might help in my own experience is reading some books written such as “Odd Girl Speaks Out: Girls Write about Bullies, Cliques, Popularity, and Jealousy” by Rachel Simmons. It’s a no. 1 best seller and really helped me to understand and impersonalise the behaviour to deal with it. There is lots of books on Amazon.com etc. that can give you a stack of knowledge. Unfortunately television, movies etc., still seem to glamorize mean girl’s behaviour as being smart and sassy. Sad portrayal of those who aim to take other’s self-esteem way for their own benefit and it being aspirational.

    Don’t worry about the other mothers, all you can do is apologise which you did do. It’s amazing how some people’s daughters can behave very nastily, yet find it okay to lie to their parents and act as though they were innocent in all of it, or even that it was some other girl in the group who “started it”. I despair as I deal with parents who behave as those “I don’t care as long as it’s not my child it’s happening to”. I dealt with this recently with another mother whose child’s behaviour was way out of line for his age with punching other children when he didn’t get want he wanted after watching fighting shows for over 18’s. He’s under 5 and watched with a parent. Trying to navigate with a child whether a boy or a girl isn’t easy when others don’t have morals or ethics you consider decent ideals in society, or think it will get them ahead of others or make them tough. Others will sit and watch and offer no support.

    Positively I have found there is the other parents who won’t put up with their kids being mean and nasty, or will actively speak to offer support after these events happen. Seek those parents, often extra curricular groups may help in finding kids with the right ethics and behaviour towards others.

    Best of luck, being a parent is not easy, but love in the home is more important above everything, not money.

  5. Sandra says:

    Greta, I am sorry you are going through this. I know firsthand, as a mother, that when our kids hurt, we hurt too.

    I think Amy’s advice is perfect, and I would follow it. I especially like the idea of making an appointment with one of the counselors at school, and/or a teacher, who might offer some insight. Perhaps they will give you some tools and suggestions for better handling this issue, or can help identify problems your daughter has coping with these mean girls. Maybe they can help you build your daughter’s self-esteem, which will help her make better friendships.

    I also believe it’s good for teachers and counselors to be aware of problems with mean girls and bullies.

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