Friendships are a tricky area of parenting because even though we want our children to have a social group, we worry about whether their friends are really right for them. It is inevitable that at some point our children will experience problems with their friends of one sort or another, and it’s important to recognise that these problems will pass and your child will get over it eventually.
For one 10-year-old girl, what started out as a ‘best friendship’ ended in real misery, but with the help of her parents, her school and other friends Ella found a way through her problems.
Ella’s mum, Anne said: “Ella was in year five at primary school when all this started and it really was a nightmare. She struck up a friendship with a girl called Lauren who I really didn’t like at all. She was well known as a bully and lots of children at the school were frightened of her. Ella seemed to be delighted to be part of Lauren’s ‘gang’ and couldn’t see that she was turning into the same sort of person.
Change in Behaviour
“Up to this point, Ella had always been quiet but well liked at school-by teachers and classmates. Once she became friends with Lauren, things started to change quite radically. After a while, Ella actually realised that she didn’t want to behave in the same way as Lauren and that’s when the problems really started. Lauren turned on Ella and made her life very difficult. They went from being best friends and virtually joined at the hip to being arch enemies and it was a very upsetting time.”
Anne added that as well as being miserable and unhappy, the problems with her friendship made Ella physically ill as well. Anne said: “Ella had tummy ache almost permanently for an entire two terms. I took her to the doctors who couldn’t find anything specific wrong her, but nevertheless every day before school Ella would feel sick and be doubled over in pain. I knew in my heart this was caused by anxiety because of the friendship issues she had at school.”
Talking Can Help
“Eventually Ella opened up about everything and we talked it through at school and at home but it took a long time to resolve the issues properly-it certainly rumbled on for at least another school term before it was finally laid to rest. We discovered that Lauren had lots of problems at home and wanted to be friends with Ella but was jealous of her. We talked a lot about the reasons we are friends with certain people and why we choose our friends and Ella finally understood that she didn’t HAVE to stay friends with Lauren and that it was her choice.”
It took a while for Anne and Ella to sort out the friendship problems, but eventually Lauren apologised to Ella and almost overnight Ella started to feel better. Anne added: “Finally Ella wanted to go to school again and her work started to improve. Less than half a term later she was back on track and had developed new friendships with a group of girls who she was really comfortable with. Lauren has now moved on and Ella sent her a good luck card. She obviously had problems of her own but I couldn’t stand how my daughter was dragged in to them and made really unwell by a so-called friend.”