Question: Dear Luise: My daughter is 10 years old and in the 4th grade. She does well in school and in sports, but she is not the “star” and she is okay with that and so am I. My problem is, one girl, a classmate and teammate. All the teachers at my daughter’s school think she is the greatest. She gets all (and I mean ALL) the awards. (My daughter got 4 awards this year, which I think is absolutely splendid!) But, she is a devil in disguise. When the teachers and her mother are not around, she will say things to my daughter such as “I got more awards than you”. How do I deal with this in regards to my daughter? My daughter is new to the school this year, and I suspect this little girl feels the competition from my daughter, which she did not have last year. My second problem is, I am the coach for my daughter’s softball team. I must say my daughter is very athletic and she is the best pitcher on the team. This same little girl is also on the team. I am very fair with all the players, and I let them try any position they wish to play. I allowed this girl to pitch one inning, and she did okay. She caught two pop flies, and we ended up winning the game. We played a team that was very, very inexperienced, which is why I allowed this inexperienced girl to pitch. My problem: now she tells my daughter at school, when no adult is within earshot, that she is a better pitcher. I also suspect that she sees that my daughter is better and this is why she does it. My daughter gets her feelings hurt easily, she is not an angel by any means, but she does not do those types of things to my knowledge. How do you deal with these types of children? M.
Answer: Dear M.: How wise of you to say “to my knowledge.” You don’t really know what your daughter does at all times and the other child’s mother may not know what her daughter does and says, either.
As far as the awards are concerned you can help your daughter understand that there are other ways to measure value. Let her know that some children need more attention than others and are more competitive. She has the option to focus on doing her best while still having fun and not taking it all too seriously. Teach her balance.
I honestly don’t know how you should deal with the other child regarding her pitching experience. With her limited ability, she did a great job in a safe situation where there was little risk and you probably can’t tell her that. She’s obviously pretty impressed with herself and the best you can offer your daughter is to teach her that how other people act often isn’t within her power to understand or change. She can learn how to have the other girl just be how she is. Then it’s up to your daughter to decide how she, herself, wants to be. She does control that.
Teach your daughter that all schoolmates are not equal and not all of them need to become her friends. Some schoolmates are dishonest, some are mean, some are jealous and some manipulate. Also, some teachers are biased. It’s a fact of life that your daughter will meet all kinds as she goes from grade to grade and sport to sport. It’s where lessons are learned, opinions are formed and competence is gained. Blessings, Luise