X Close

When your child feels rejected by a friend

April 16, 2013
 |  by Julie

When your child feels rejected by a friend

I thought my heart was going to burst right open.

Piper was telling me about her best little friend at preschool. Oh, how she loves her buddy Amelia! As soon as Piper walks through the doors, her eyes scan the room for her beloved friend and, hand-in-hand, they bounce off to whatever preschool adventures await them that day.

But apparently there was some drama happening. Or so my daughter was trying to tell me.

“Amelia’s mad at me, Mommy.”

“She is?” I said distractedly, trying to nurse my wiggly son.

“Yeah,” Piper sighed. “She got mad. She said she doesn’t like me anymore.”

My head popped up. “She said what?”

“She doesn’t like me anymore. She plays with new friends now.”

Suddenly my heart constricted and my inner mama-bear reared her protective head. How could someone not like my sweet, nurturing, gentle-hearted – yes, sometimes also bossy and stubborn – Piper girl?!

I quizzed her about what had happened to make Amelia mad, but all I could gather was that for some reason they weren’t playing together anymore. And then, as I groped for the right words to say, my daughter stunned me with what she said next.

“Mommy, I’m going to tell Amelia – what’s that thing you told me? When someone takes your toy?”

My mind was whirling. What is she talking about? When someone takes your toy…?

Wait a second.

“Do you mean what we talked about the other day – forgiveness? Saying, ‘I forgive you’ when someone takes your toy or is mean to you?”

She nodded. “Yeah, ‘I a-give you.’ I’m gonna say that to Amelia.”

Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow…

Piper was referring to the discussion we had had a few weeks ago when we did our Easter craft from the Forgiveness lesson. In trying to explain the concept of forgiveness to her, I had come up with an example I thought she could relate to – a friend taking your toy. At the time, it seemed like she wasn’t really listening, but I had learned my lesson yet again: never doubt how much my child can understand, especially when it comes to spiritual matters.

I still haven’t figured out exactly what happened to make Piper’s friend stop playing with her, but after picking her up from preschool one day, I asked her what had happened with Amelia.

“I told her I a-give [forgive] you.”

“You did? I’m so proud of you! Then what happened?”

“Amelia said she doesn’t like me anymore.”

My hopes plummeted. I was suddenly picturing my little girl playing dejectedly by herself on the playground the rest of the school year.

But Piper continued, “So I played with other friends and then Amelia wasn’t mad anymore and we all played together.”

Well then. I suppose it was a happy ending after all! I won’t pretend that Piper’s “I forgive you” did the trick (although it might have). Perhaps Amelia simply got tired of being mad. Or perhaps something was going on in that situation that was beyond my daughter’s ability to communicate. I have no idea. However, I do know that all seems to be well on the playground again, and, most importantly, my daughter is beginning to truly understand what it means to forgive.

To reinforce her understanding of forgiveness, I recently went back the Kids of Integrity website and used the “Blessing Instead of Cursing” and “Living in Love” role-play activities to help teach her how to continue showing forgiveness and grace in difficult situations. Check out the Hands-On Options for other helpful activities!

Lastly, if any of you fellow parents have dealt with a similar situation – your child was rejected, bullied or hurt by a friend – I would love to hear your thoughts. How did you handle the situation? What ultimately happened? It breaks my heart to think of any child feeling left out in the cold. I pray that together we can help our children be the kind of kids who show forgiveness and grace, and stick up for other children who feel rejected or bullied.

Related Lesson: Forgiveness