It is important you educate your child so they understand what the typical behaviours are that form this type of bullying. It is important that they are aware of it and don’t just think that this is the way friendship is supposed to be.
How to spot a frenemy
- Mocking, teasing and making nasty comments and then following it with the comment ‘I was just joking’
- Spreading rumours
- Not saving a seat at lunch time
- Avoiding them or excluding them from activities
- Ignoring them and giving them the ‘silent treatment’
- Threatening to break their friendship if they don’t do as they have asked
- Not inviting them to a party or to play over their house.
- Talking on purpose about how much fun they have had with other friends
- Using social media to say mean things about your child.
- Encouraging others to isolate or been mean to your child
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Make sure your child understands how a good friend behaves
For example if your child gets recognition for a good piece of work or is selected for a sports team etc. a genuine friend would be happy but a frenemy may make a sarcastic or unkind comment due to jealousy.
The difference is important to understand because it is very easy to follow bad behaviour especially when you see people get away with it. Knowing the characteristics of what makes a good friend may help your child make the right decision when they are being a friend to someone else.
There may be a time when you are desperate for your child to end a friendship but your child may not want to. Despite being treated badly the friendship may still be important to your child.
It is times like this that you will need to support your child with strategies to deal with unkind comments and behaviour. I have mentioned some below.
Teach your child how to use an assertive voice
It is natural for any child to feel angry or upset when they are being treated in an unkind way. Practice role playing with your child. Act out scenarios with your child that they could be in with her frenemy.
Practice possible responses that your child could use.
For example they could respond with –
‘I don’t like the way that you are talking to me so I am going to step away from you and go do something else.’
Explain to your child to try not to show the frenemy that they are angry or upset by the comments made. I know this isn’t always easy.
Get your child to imagine they are covered in bubble wrap so the words can’t get to them and everything just bounces off them and goes back to the frenemy.
They could then respond with something like –
‘Well that is your opinion and you are welcome to it’
Then walk away from the situation.
It is important to use an assertive voice when responding, one that is calm and strong. Get your child to practice taking a deep breath before speaking and not rushing their words. This may not come naturally so practice is important.
Being assertive also shows in your child’s body language. Here are a few simple things you can help your child do to appear confident.
- Keep their back straight;
2. Hold their head high;
3. Take a deep breath and relax their shoulders;
4. Unfold their arms and try not to fidget;
5. Hold eye contact.
Get your child to practise this in front of a full length mirror if you have one or you could help your child practice.
The decision to end the friendship
It may not be easy but it may come to the point when your child decides that the friendship needs to end. It is important your child makes this decision and doesn’t feel pressured into doing so. It is also important that it is your child that ends the friendship and not you.
It could be something like –
‘I don’t like the way that you are unkind towards me, and if that is the way that you are going to be then our friendship needs to end.’
If this happens then keep an eye out for your child as the frenemy might try to make life difficult for them by increasing unkind behaviour towards your child.
Inform the school teacher about what has happened so that they can keep an eye out for your child and also it may help your child if the teacher is able to change the seating arrangements so that they are not sitting to near to each other.
Finding new friends
If the friendship ends it may mean that your child needs to find new friendship group. This isn’t easy and can be quite scary for a child. Below are ways that you can help your child.
- Get your child to think of the names of other children that they like and would enjoy spending more time with.
- Maybe you could discuss this with class the teacher. The teacher could talk to these other students so that they are more welcoming of your child.
- You could ask the teacher to move your child nearer these students in class.
- You could encourage your child to sit with these other students at break and lunch.
- You could invite these children over to your home so that they get some interaction together outside of school.
- Find out about clubs at school – for example, drama club, sporting group, chess club and so on. Your child might be able to find others children with shared interests.
If you think your child would benefit from working with someone 1-1 please book a complimentary conversation HERE so that we can discuss if I can help support your child.