Nine Year Old -- Drama over E-Mail

stir_fryiDecember 13, 2009

I am getting mad.

I let my 9 1/2 year old have an e-mail account to have fun talking to her friends.

Instead, it is turning into a drama thing.

Last week from her friend it was "why do always hog so and so at recess". My DD's response is "I'm sorry -- I'll try not to!!"

Now two girls are accusing her of calling a third girl ugly. My DD swears she didn't. They keep hounding her "why would so and so lie??". She keeps denying it.

I am getting mad.

I told her she needs to stand up for herself. She did the other day (regarding this incident) and she is now playing at that friend's house. I noticed when she stands up for herself, they back down. My DD is too afraid they will be mad at her or not play with her.

Today, I was so tempted to reply to an e-mail - "This is X's mom -- she told you she did not say that about Y, so that is the end of the discussion and I would appreciate you dropping it."

Of course I won't. But I did tell my DD that the e-mail was for fun not for bickering with friends.

Is this what cyber-bullying is?

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I think it is really good that you know what is going on in your daughter's email life.

I would say this is bullying and it must be stopped.

Could you talk to the other girl's mothers?

Or maybe the whole incident should be put down to experience, and you should cancel the email account until your daughter is old enough to deal with the situation.

The reality is, this whole situation could be happening without the email, they could just be talking about all this at school ! In that case what would you do then ?

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 4:06PM
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No, this is not cyber bullying. This is, unfortunately, typical social behavior of nine and 10 year girls. One day girl A is on the outs, the next it's girl B, and so on. It just happens that email is the communication method for this current round of drama.

What you need to do is teach your daughter to handle it on her own. As you've both seen, when she stands up for herself things work out fine. When my D was that age I found it best to ask her a series of questions to help her come up with appropriate responses to inappropriate behavior. It not only helped her at that time, but as she became a teen. It also helped her develop good values.

ie--the recess thing. (really kind of a simplistic exchange for illustration) Mom: Why do you think they said that? D--because they want to play with "x" also. Mom: What you can you do or say so everyone gets to play together without being mad? D--eventually, "Say I'm sorry. Next time you should come over and play also."

Your goal can't be to get the behavior to stop. You cannot control the other children. A call to their mothers MAY worsen the situation. What you can do is help equip your daughter to handle it. I understand how painful it can be for a parent to watch their child be worry about being excluded. Our natural instinct is to make it better for them immediately. It's more difficult, and better parenting IMHO, to teach them the social skills they will need throughout life. Ask your daughter, "What would happen if you didn't play with x, y, and z?" Would it really be the end of the world if she learned to make other friends?

You also didn't ask for this piece of advice, but a nine year old is too young for an email account unless it's to keep in touch with a family member. Then only the family members should be permitted to know the address. Most of them have only been writing for a few years and few are able to effectively communicate via writing. It's kind of like me not buying my 19 YO beer to fit in with some of her college friends. (She doesn't drink anyway.) I wouldn't let her have an email at 9 or 10 just for fun either.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 5:58PM
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Not to nit-pick, but this is cyberbullying. Kids--and adults--will type something that they'd be afraid to say in person. I'd shut down the email account. You don't want her email address all over the internet, and for her to get sexual related spam.

I wouldn't get involved in the back and forth among the girls, but you might talk to her teacher about the recess activities. You want to nip any hint of bullying in the bud, and not let your daughter turn into the victim of other girls in her class.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 6:04PM
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Thanks for all the helpful responses. It just irritates me that my DD spent the whole weekend defending herself and worrying that these girls were mad at her.

I think whoever said that this type of interaction occurs regardless of e-mail is right but I do think the girls are "bolder" over e-mail then in person.

My advice to her (although she is getting sick of my advice!) is going to be that there is to be no "drama" over e-mail. If one of her friends starts something, she is not to respond or say "sorry-- I'm not allowed to get drama over e-mail."

She knows I read her e-mail and most of the time she willingly shares it with me.

rrah -- you are so right about not being able to control the behavior of other girls. I really need to teach DD to stick up for herself better.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 10:06PM
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This is bullying, pure and simple, and it doesn't matter if it's online or face to face, the outcome is the same, and your daughter is the target. Children this age can be unspeakably cruel, and the target children have been destroyed, some have even committed suicide because of this behavior. This is very, very serious.

You need to take away her email account now, and get her into some activities away from school, activities that don't involve any of these girls. And you need to talk to her about what is happening and why these girls aren't her friends and don't deserve even the time of day from her.

Talk to the principal, and expect the principal to take action, and find out if her school has any programs to combat this behavior.

Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bullying at school

    Bookmark   December 15, 2009 at 8:21AM
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Drop the email account. Help her develop criteria for selecting worthy, kind friends.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2010 at 8:10PM
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I am so tired of reading these insipid whinings from parents who have problems with kids.


No 9 year old needs an e-mail account.
Get her outside playing like a child.

I worry that most of these parents are kids themselves with no sense whatsoever.
They are the ones populating the world with their spawn.


    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 8:24AM
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