I had totally forgotten the female drama of the 4th grade until recently when my daughter, currently in 4th grade, reminded me. And all the memories came rushing back. I was stunned, yes 4th grade was kind of rough, but you know what is rougher than that is having to see my daughter go through it. I’m OK, I survived but it hurts more the second time around when you have to relive it through your kid. I wished my mom had given me a guide on how to survive the drama of 4th grade, but oh well, I did survive it and my daughter will too, and your daughter will too, just follow this advice.
What is the dreadful drama of little girls in 4th grade? Well let me introduce you to it – It’s basically little 9 year olds that will soon be 10 years old, who think that they know more about the world than you. No, it’s not the teen years yet, it’s worse, it’s the tween years, 10-11 years old. And it hits worse the girls than boys since girls mature earlier than boys. It’s a really weird transition, these girls are not teenagers but they are not little girls anymore, and given all the physical changes that they will be going through soon, it’s a crazy time when friends become really important in a girl’s life, belonging to a group starts to make sense to them and rejection from a group stings like hell.
So what should you do as a mommy to help your beautiful butterfly? Well, I can only offer you my experience and my girlfriends’ but I’m thinking they are pretty universal experiences.
1. Get Your Daughter Talking… you need to find out what’s going on in her school social life. Make it fun, not an interrogation – I tried that and I’m sorry to report it fails miserably as a strategy to get your daughter to talk. What I do is while she’s having a snack and I see she’s in a really relaxed happy place, I ask her half joking, “hey any drama at school today?” and I always get a response and she’s dying to tell me about who likes who, who doesn’t want to be friends with whom and who’s mean and who’s nice, and who went psycho.
2. Listen First, Give Advice Later if Needed…I always try to give my daughter my full attention, even if I’m dying to jump in and tell her, “well that girl is mean, don’t be friends with her…” or “forget about it, it’s not going to matter in 10 years…” because then it becomes about me, the mom, telling her how to solve her problems, and not helping her find her own solutions. If she tells me something like the usual about a girl who was her friend and for no reason she doesn’t want to be friends with her again, I refrain from telling her to forget about it – while thoughts of going to that girl and giving her a piece of my mind cloud my thinking – and then I tell her in a form of a story what I did when that happened to me or I tell her a story of how so and so reacted in a similar situation.
3. Know Who Her Friends Are, And Get To Know the Parents Too…I made it a point to know who is friends with my daughter. I try to meet her girlfriends during pick up times at school, at birthday parties and also her friends’ parents. Why you ask? because you can figure a lot by noticing with whom she’s friends with. If it turns out to be a bad influence crowd you can still do something about it before it gets worse during the teenage years when friendship bonds are iron strong. And if the group is good, then monitor it, and be happy.
The point is that as moms we can’t live our daughters’ lives – we want them to have happy experiences and good friends, and we want to keep them from feeling left out or unloved by a friend – but the reality is that those experiences cannot be avoided, they are part of life – our daughters’ lives. The great thing that they have going for them, is us, their mommies, looking out for them fiercely while helping them survive the drama of the 4th grade.