My Sweet Kindergartner vs. The Queen Bee

Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I've debated whether or not to post this...but here goes it.  A lot of people have recently asked about my decision to send Kate to kindergarten (since I had considered holding her back and blogged about it) or to give an update about how she is doing.

As far as how we decided to move onto kindergarten....  Lots of the kids in her kindergarten grade are summer birthdays.  I was able to find that out.  I also talked to the kindergarten teachers, 2nd grade and 5th grade teachers at her school and frankly interviewed them about summer birthday girls.  I asked them both how they do academically and socially.  But mostly we saw Kate leap ahead in every way this summer.  She became more confident, more social and more mature.  I also REALLY wanted her to go to school ONE year with one of her brothers.  That might seem silly to some but Harry and Kate are SO SO SO close and this is the only year they could ever go to school together. That was certainly a secondary consideration.  Mostly, we felt she was ready.

As far as how she is doing....

First and foremost. Kate is happy.  She loves her teacher and she is beaming every afternoon when I pick her up.  All the kids say hello to her in the hallway.  And she and the principal have bonded over fashion;)  Even though Kate wears a uniform we have managed to "jazz it up" a bit (as our friend, Lucy would say).  She is doing great with the academic work (although that took a few weeks).

There have been a few bumps/adjustments too.  The first couple of days Kate was trying to make her friends laugh by making bird call noises and inventing new games.  After a couple of warnings from the teacher, she has gotten the gist of things and has not had any color changes.  She also thought one of the daily sight words tasks was tres' boring.  She had no interest in writing the same word over and over in fill in the blank sentences.  We had some chats about how following directions is part of leaning and she is now doing much better.

However, apparently, "mean girl drama" can begin in kindergarten. Just like in most schools... there is a girl who seems to rule the roost.  Said girl (I'll call her QUEEN BEE) decides who can play with whom on the playground.  She tells girls they cannot play in the kitchen at free center time.  She is 6.  Kate just turned 5.  

The other night Kate asked me what day tomorrow is.  I told her Friday. She said , "Oh good, I get to play with "Queen Bee" tomorrow!"  I said, "What do you mean?"  She proceeded to tell me that Queen Bee decides who gets to play with the girls and all week she has told Kate she can play with the girls on Friday!  Are you kidding me?!  In kindergarten?

Of course, I had to seize this teachable moment.  I told Kate she should choose friends who want to play with her every day.  I reminded her of the welcoming, sweet girls in her class and told her to go play with them.  I told her that she should surround herself with the people who want to play with her every day and who are kind and inclusive.  But apparently, Queen Bee has learned how to divide and conquer.  She pulls the girls apart and plays with different ones on different days.  And the girls follow her and listen to her.  

This situation is the major reason I wanted to hold Kate back.  Kate is young and SWEET.  That is the word everyone uses to describe her.  She is a little naive (in a good way I think--but clearly I am not objective here.)   She does not get playground politics.  She is not nearly as manipulative and savvy as Queen Bee (and I am not sure I really want her to be).  I just don't want her to be a puppy waiting for her turn to play with the "popular" girl.  So, I am trying to teach Kate about friendship and assertiveness and including everyone.  It is hard.

Yesterday, I popped in the cafeteria to say hello to Kate at lunch and she was sitting alone at a table.  It BROKE-MY-HEART.   I felt so sad.  But Kate was happy.   She did not seem sad at all.  I went to sit with her for a few minutes and immediately 5 of her classmates said, "Kate's Mom!" and came to sit with us (they probably thought I had treats;).  Ironically, Queen Bee sat right next to Kate.  I chatted with all the kiddos for a few minutes.  Luckily, I know them all as I volunteer in the classroom a bunch.  Then I steered the conversation to recess.  I looked Queen Bee right in the eye and asked if everyone was being included at recess.  She told me "Yes, Kate is my friend."  I was very chipper and upbeat and just reminded all the kids that they should make sure everyone gets to play and that no one is left out.  I know I did not solve the problem but I did let little Queen Bee know that I was on to her.

The begin of the year planner is called "All About me."  I have had a little anxiety about this as there are some sensitive areas that can come up regarding adoption.  But I did find some great resources to share with Kate's teacher.  I wanted to share Kate's projects for this planner...

First, we made a "me doll."  The teacher gave us a template and we were supposed to make it look like them.


All about me0515

DSC_1886

For the "All about Me" poster...Kate painted the posterboard pink, chose all the photos, came up with the words (Harry made the wortle on the computer).  She cut some of the stuff out but definitely got bored with that!  

These projects were definitely supposed to be done with lots of parental help.  I normally don't help the kids with these things but these two were supposed to be done as a team.

The teacher had told me that Kate was being very shy in class (which is NOT Kate) but she told me yesterday that Kate completely came out of her shell when presenting her poster.  She told me that she was so animated and excited to talk about it.  She told me that Kate called her brothers "very handsome" as she talked about them.

So all in all, I think we made the right decision although I know it could be years before we really know.  I will be watching carefully all year for any red flags that she needs more time. She can always do two years of kindergarten if we think that is necessary.  We gave Will an extra year of pre-school and it was the right choice for him.

PS.  As a marriage and parenting coach, I HIGHLY recommend this book.  It has been updated to include social networking.  I read the old edition but just bought the new one and I will be re-reading it to help teach Kate how to deal with this stuff.  If you have girls (any ages really) then you should read this book!


39 comments:

  1. Kim, I love this post! Funny, when I offered to do the same kind of drop in ( w/ treats even ) my sophomore declined? I just wanted to let two classmates know that I was on to them as well? Plan B;) My son has a July birthday and is small for his age. We are still torn about moving him to 2 nd grade this year, academically he does great , other areas are of concern. Big hugs!

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  2. oh Kim, I'm so sorry to hear that "queen bee" is taking such a harsh road to making "friends".
    From the sounds of it Kate is so sweet and innocent which is something I would also strive to keep in my "future" little ones, as you are now with Kate! :)
    I am not a doctor or a therapist but I did study Psyc. and the first thing that came to mind was what is happening at "Queen Bee's" home?
    I did not grow up in a "typical" household as a child (divorce, abuse, constant fighting, etc.) and although I didn't bully, I found my ways to "take control" of other things in my little life at that time because I felt like I had no control at home.
    Unfortunately, there is usually an underlining reason as to why these children act out in the way they do. And please note by no way is it acceptable what "queen bee" is doing and I fully stand behind you with going up to her and simple making sure that all the little girls know we should share, be friends, and all play together!
    But perhaps while volunteering one day you could have a one-on-one chat with"queen bee" and ask her what she does at home? who she plays with at home? etc.
    I also nannyed for a year for a family who payed no attention to their children which resulted in extreme behavioural issues for the 5 yr old. because she couldn't make sense why mommy and daddy also left and didn't play with her.
    But this is getting long and I must run! :) hope my little insight helped!
    I'll be praying for you, kate and queen bee! :)
    Blessings,
    Ainsley

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  3. Her little character is SO cute!

    As for kindergarten drama, I think you're doing the right thing. I babysit for my next door neighbor and she had three friends over once. One of the girls was clearly "the boss" and two of them just followed her around everywhere!!!

    Keep reminding Kate the importance of friendship, but she'll figure it out :)

    xoxo
    C

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  4. Hi Kim!!

    I am glad Kate is so happy in Kindergarten! I agree...it took Lucy a little while to get "in the groove" with the academic part of school, but once she did it all comes together.

    We had a little "queen bee" last year, but she has since moved to another school. I could NOT believe that this was starting in Kindergarten...after raising boys, this was never an issue for us....Lucy does have a little "bossy" side along with the "funky jazzy" side, so that helped her not fall into this little girl's "web"...I will definitely be getting the book, I had heard about it, and now we know, it's never too early!

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  5. Kim,

    I am so glad to see that Kate is having a good year so far! I wonder if you might speak to Queen Bee's mom (in a non-confrontational manner, of course) and somehow express your concerns. I don't know if it would help - I imagine if the girl is acting that way, she must have modeled her behavior on someone.

    But I hope things continue to go well for Kate and I hope you are feeling better!

    Hugs, Susan

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  6. Mean Girls start in kindergarten?? Ohme, Ohmy....
    I'm so happy to hear that Kate is so happy. I "adored" her me-doll, too precious just like her! The board she made was just so full of love.
    I think you were so smart to "mention" including everyone at the lunch table that day.

    hope you are all well, and that it's starting to cool down a bit?!

    xojoan

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  7. so so glad to hear kate is happy
    & thriving in her kindergarten class!
    i love her doll
    that is so like caroline to slap a monogram on there too!
    & yes, she does indeed have handsome brothers.
    you are such a good mama kim
    xo

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  8. Before I got to the bottom, I was going to suggest you read that book.
    I read it, as I taught middle school right out of college.
    Also, going to an all girls school as a kid this really really was a good read.
    Truth be told, I think it is harder for girls NOW than it was when we were growing up...
    Kate has some good roots with you and Dave which is ao important!

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  9. Ahhhh - I don't want to have to look forward to "queen bee's" in kindergarten! Can I keep Lillie home with me for forever? Kate sounds so sweet - I wish we lived closer. I would love to have someone like her for Lillie to look up to! I love her doll and board! Hope you all are doing well. I need to e-mail you a question about Lola when I have a second.

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  10. We don't have any queen bees (that I know of, anyway), but if we did, my FIRST move would be to chat with the teacher about it. Ask her to observe the playground and see what "dynamics" she's seeing and to get back to you. She may be able to nip it in the bud without any further action needed.

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  11. I also would bet that Queen Bee has an older sister/cousin/aunt...I always found that to be the case for kids like that...

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  12. I love Kate's doll and poster!

    I really enjoyed reading this post as I did decide to send my July 15th (adopted at 19 months, heart baby) daughter to a private 3 hours per day Kindy this year - with the thought that she may repeat at our local Elementary School next year - depending.

    The Queen Bee book sounds interesting.

    xo ellie

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  13. Great post! I am glad Kate is doing well. Her experience with Queenie is bordering on relational bullying. The bully utilizes their "friendships" to get their way. We have had to (unfortunately) deal with this type of bullying from the children next door. A book we read to our children was "My Secret Bully" by Trudy Ludwig.

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  14. Kim,
    So sorry to hear about the Queen Bee. Our daughter is very similar to Kate - sweet, summer birthday, etc. I have heard/seen similar situations myself, many directed at other children and a few to my daughter, as well as from other moms, since pre-school. It is very sad especially since it is starting out so young. Sometimes I did wonder too, if holding back would have been the answer but the more I think about it, I don't think so. It is how our daughters are and how we raise them. Unfortunately, the majority of kids do not seem to get the same parenting at home and there are even some parents who actually want to make sure their child is not the one being bullied so they are okay with this behavior. Have met bullies who are oldest in the class and some who are younger - again it seems it is more the personalities over the age. Are the teachers aware of this? Have you spoken to them? Thanks for sharing and please keep us posted - many of your readers learn a lot from you.

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  15. Sweet girl..happy girl and proud girl!! I was just saying today.. we live next door to a "QUEEN BEE" that how different my Emerson might be if was never under this little brats reign!! My daughter is so sweet to her and will always even when she is mean and hateful to her..and always flutters back. Imagine my struggle living next to that everyday!! Thank Goodness they have never had class together.. I must say the child acts like her mama..

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  16. Ugh...Queen Bee's, they do start early don't they? Much earlier than when we were little girls. You are a great Mom my friend:) We put our Elisabeth back in the 1st grade because she just wasn't mature enough. She eventually caught up and passed her peers but it was still a good decision. Praying for sweet Kate!

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  17. I didn't read all of the comments yet, so I could be writing some of what others have said. I want to share with you Paige's experience with Kinder-Second grade. We live in a middle to upper middle class area. Our elementary school has won many National awards and is a Blue Ribbon school every year. There is very little diversity in our area (suburb of Nashville). All of that said, with educated parents raising little girls, I was STUNNED at how caddy and mean some of them were. There was, of course, the Queen Bee and guess what, in the 7th grade, she hasn't changed one bit. She manipulated all of the little girls. Paige has always been very nonchalant and never seemed to realize that she was being manipulated (or just didn't care). BUT I DID! I also watched for red flags and there were lots of them. We stayed in constant touch with the teacher and that was helpful. We also made sure that we had lots of playdates with the little girls in Paige's class who were kind and came from equally kind families. We stayed on top of it, almost to the point of being helicopter parents/sister. Paige was different in many ways, adopted, only asian in her grade, had MUCH older parents and siblings, etc... We were so naive to think that kids wouldn't question all of that. Nonetheless, she had her share of "moments" in those first three school years. I am happy to report, she has come out unscathed. She is happy as a little lamb, one of the smartest kids you'll meet, and is one of the most well liked. Said Queen Bee is still manipulating the roost and there are still some who flock to her, but most do not. I think what it so important, and what you stated in your post, is to gravitate towards the sweet, welcoming friends and include ALL. You guys will navigate your way through this. Kate is one lucky little lady to have you all on her side and to guide her through these formidable years. As for the book,... read it almost daily for a couple of years...probably need to pull it out again :)
    Hugs to sweetie pie, Kate, and I look forward to watching her blossom throughout elementary school!

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  18. I tell my daughter "friends shouldn't tell friends who to be friends with!" And that applies to the mom's as well. I have also sat with certain kids to let them know I know they aren't being nice. Hmph!!

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  19. So thankful for this update. Queen Bees are everywhere. I love how you handled the lunch visit. I do the same thing....just a little contact to let them know I am on to them. I find the guilty ones start squirming a bit. My daughter can be quiet and shy and it made the first few weeks of school hard. She is feeling more comfortable now. I am a Brownie leader for the 2nd year in a row. I don't love the job but feel it's one of the few ways to make an impact on how the girls treat one another and what is acceptable behavior amongst friends. We are all about being inclusive, finding ways to reach out to friends, and being nice. All hard things for 2nd grade girls. Our school is using a "bucket filling" theme this year and I am excited to see how it impacts. Some cute books on the subject and the teacher uses a good check for the girls....is what you are doing filling this child's bucket or emptying?

    Keep us posted!

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  20. we are going through the SAME thing at my daughter's school. she just started kindergarten, too! we had the same issue over the summer at her summer pre-K class.

    i talked to the teacher about it...but the best thing i've done is role-play with my daughter. it is teaching her how to respond to the mean girl and how to advocate for herself in class and on the playground.

    it is so HARD, though! right?!

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  21. Oh Kim,
    Welcome to the world of girls in school! I take pride in the fact that by high school my daughter knew exactly which kind of girls she wanted to be friends with, and to this day has 6 gorgeous girl friends who she has dinner with once a month. So often professionally I see girls who still want to be with 'the cool girls', and I'm glad we got those lessons out of the way in elementary- as it seems you and Kate are too!

    But it is rough when you think of your girl sitting alone at a table. Although it is good that Kate didn't buy into the exclusion game and was happy to sit, even if she was by herself.

    Best,
    Yve

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  22. Before I comment on "the Queen Bee!" I have to say that is the cutest doll ever!!!!! You should find someone to make them and sell them!!!! You create, I will market! :)

    As for Miss Queen Bee!!! UGH!! That makes me so sad that Kate is dealing with it in Kindergarten. Please tell me you just happened to mention something to the teacher.. I wonder what Queen Bee's Mom is like?

    Kate is blessed to have you there for all of her teachable moments!! Way to go Mom!

    Love,
    Di

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  23. thanks so much for the book recommendation! it comes at a perfect time as we just met with our daughter's teacher today regarding social concerns. our little bella is doing her 2nd year of kindy (it is part of the waldorf school curriculum) and we are always highly conscience of the social dynamics at this young age! miss bella is the only girl who "doesn't look like her family" and she still struggles with her speech and the english language. it makes for some difficult times on the playground. we have adopted the habit of inviting the girls in the class over for playdates each week, one on one in the beginning of the school year (so bella can make personal connections) and then small groups of girls as the year progresses. this has enabled me to monitor their interactions and quietly model and guide appropriate social dynamics. i have found that the "queen bees" (they are in all the grades) oftentimes just need exposure to healthy role models. best of luck to you and miss kate in this exciting journey of education. and thank you for sharing all your experiences (the good, the bad and the not so pretty sometimes). it is such fun to find so many lovely blogs as we dive into the international adoption arena again!
    -paige (a princeton transplant to socal)

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  24. Adorable photo board and doll! My girl had a first grade experience where a "friend" was extremely overbearing, trying to carry her around at recess and making comments about her being Chinese. I spoke to the teacher about it and she watched it and handled it from the classroom. I do still keep an eye on this particular girl (4th grade now) as my daughter is fairly quiet. Also, am surprised that the school would allow one child to sit alone at lunch -- assigned seats are the norm at our school. Have read and am re-reading that book too! Take care!

    Janet

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  25. I just love your blog. I have followed it for years. I was not sure whether to ask you this or not, but thought I would. A friend of ours is adopting their 2nd daughter from China and the funds are so low this time. She is doing a fundraiser selling cards and I wondered if you'd consider mentioning it on your blog. I know you have alot of followers. The link to her blog is http://journeytoabigail-jeunesse.blogspot.com/

    Thank you so much for considering it. ----What a blessing you have been to me. Thanks for sharing your honesty and fun filled life with your family on your blog.

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  26. What a wonderful post!! Gabriella has a summer birthday too...July 10. She just turned 4 this summer; after looking at the different classes in preschool, and it's her first year, we chose to put her in the 3 year old class and we will watch her closely. I'm honestly not sure what the right answer is however we will see how things progress. I'm thrilled Kate is diong well and pray that Queen B heard you loud and clear!!!

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  27. I'm just hoping Molly doesn't turn out to be the Queen Bee when she starts school! ha! She just turned 3 and can be very bossy...yikes! At her (home) daycare she is the ring leader. My mom (daycare owner) says even the older kids will follow her around and do what she says, plays her games, etc. As long as she is sweet and loving as a leader I'm ok with it, but I definatly don't want any Queen bee nonsense started by my child. I guess time will tell.

    Also, I'm so on the fence about when to start Molly in PreK/and Kinder. Her bday is 9/21 so she would even be much younger than Kate was. I'm continuing to pray about it:)

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  28. Kim you handle the situation wonderfully. I love the fact that Kate is taking this so graciously. I must agree w/the ladies above, it starts at home!!

    Gotta say...I loved the "doll" above!! Too cute!

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  29. I'm glad Kate is enjoying kindergarten.

    I think that at this age little girls who are older sometimes take on the role of "managing" the other girls. It doesn't make the behavior OK but it does make it a bit less malicious.

    One of my girl's first grade once told me that at age 6 and 7 girls usually all want to be in control, all want to tell the others what to do and all are in the others business. Maybe the bossy little girl has just reached this stage and the other girls are just sweet enough to let her have her way.

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  30. Yikes to the kindergarten queen bee! Kate seems to be such an awesome little person, though...I would guess that other little girls would just be drawn to her!

    I hope that this doesn't seem unkind, as it is not with that spirit that I'm writing it, but I personally wouldn't intervene with my daughter's relationships at school, even to the extent that you did. As much as you love Kate, another mother loves the little queen bee that much and would probably be crushed to know that another child's parent was concerned about her child and was trying to relay a message about recess relations directed at her little one. If one of your children was the one who wasn't treating other children well, wouldn't you prefer to be approached about it yourself, so that you could handle things as you saw fit? I know that I would, and would also appreciate the other parent talking with me and being honest if she had concerns.

    I know that I'm not the popular opinion on here, and am probably part of the reason that you debated posting this, Kim. Really don't mean any unkindness, just offering a different perspective.

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  31. Hi Kim,

    I just retired in June from teaching after 34 years, and as a Kindergarten teacher, I have seen a lot of the kind of "Queen Bee" behavior you have described. I always tell my parents that I want to know the kind of things that may impact the class in adusting to new situations, and though I am a big fan of allowing children to problem-solve as much as possible on their own, I also never tolerated children acting the way "Queen Bee" did. Oddly enough, children gravitate toward this type of child. Mostly they do this for fear of being left out of the "clique" they so want to be a part of...poor babies=( I always pulled in the guidance counselor to address these situations to the WHOLE class and role-played some "How would you feel if..." I always had a "Random Acts of Kindness" jar where I noted sweet things I saw happening among classmates on little slips of paper (which I later sent home). There are so many positive ways to stifle this type of BULLYING with positive reinforcement for the children who ARE NOT doing it. Just thoughts from a career K teacher~ Gale

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  32. Kim, I first experinced a "Queen Bee" situtation when my now 22 year old was 5 and in kindergarten. Let me tell you "queen bee" was a thorn in our side, k thru 12 and her attitude only got worse. We finally at some point deceided she wasn't going to change so we have to figure out we had to figure out we needed to change our thinking about her. I tried to teach Kaitlyn that "QB" really deep down lacks self confidence and feels she most control everything and thats a sad thing. Once Kaitlyn started thinkign that way, she didn't think QB was so cool!

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  33. Hang in there! I'm always telling Dots, "Everyone has their moment in the sun; aren't you glad yours isn't over in 8th grade?" (or kindergarten, in Kate's case!). I'm not sure Dots completely believes me, but I think she has noticed that the girls who wielded the power in elementary school are not the same ones who dominate the social scene in middle school.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I've been reading Girls on the Edge which is somewhat depressing but has an important message for parents of daughters.

    Kate's poster is precious!

    Hope you're doing well. Would love to see you!

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  34. I am so glad you posted about this! Especially the link to a resourceful book. We dealt with a Queen Bee last year and I am sure there are many more to come! Some days, I am just thankful that if I can see who The Queen Bee IS, hopefully that means it's not my daughter :)

    Adding the book to my t and I LOVE the doll too!, darling! Hug your sweet little girl close tonight!

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  35. I love this post. My oldest daughter is in 4th grade and has experienced this same type of behavior, but unfortunately it is with one of our neighbors. The "queen bee" gets her behavior honest as I have seen her mother exhibit the exact same behavior. As a matter of a fact, this weekend this little girl is having a birthday party and has invited everyone in our neighborhood...except my daughter. We've dealt with this for over a year now and thankfully, my daughter understands the behavior, but to be excluded on a regular basis is hurtful regardless. This book is on my "must read" list!

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  36. That little doll is adorable!! I agree with Diana.... you should make them!!

    Sorry to hear about Kate's "Queen Bee" situation..... it is sad that it starts so young. I think you did handle the situation well with your little lunchtime conversation. I think I would have had to fight hard to resist the urge to mention it to the teacher. Hopefully the situation will resolve itself in time..... you will have to let us know what happens.

    Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Friday could not get her soon enough for me:)

    xoxo,

    Lisa

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  37. i SO FEEL FOR YOU AND KNOW AS A MOM WHAT YOU ARE GOING THROUGH AS MY DAUGHER IS A LATE SUMMER BABY TOO AND DEALS WITH IT IN OTHER THINGS BUT THAT IS ANOTHER REASON I GLAD WE CHOOSE TO HOMESCHOOL WHICH I KNOW IS NOT FOR EVERYONE BUT i WENT THROUGH THE SAME THING AND STILL DEAL WITH THE SAME THING AND KNOW THAT IT IS HARD

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  38. I stumbled upon your blog and can definitely relate to your post. My daughter began kindergarten this year and is dealing with this very issue. I was shocked that it began at such an early age. It really just hurts my heart. My daughter's birthday is in May so she is a newer 5 also.

    Thank you for these words. I am ordering this book right now!

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  39. Well, just prepare yourself for this Queen Bee activity to continue. My daughter (20) is in college and just last week her roommate decided to tell her that she was no longer her friend and didn't want to associate with her. (They live in a house with another girl near campus and are in the same sorority.) There was a big mean spirited exclusion towards my daughter. My daughter is so naive and trusting of everyone she did not see this coming and it devastated her. She called home crying and ended up coming home. (We do not live far from her school.) I cannot tell you the whole story here, but let me just say it broke my heart and infuriated me. I wanted to tell that girl a thing or two about life and just what I thought of her. I especially wanted to tell her to be careful because the higher you are, the harder you fall and the meaner you are, the fewer people will be there to help you up.

    I do not know why some girls find it appropriate to hurt others with their word or acts of exclusion. My number one lesson for my three girls (21, 20 and 14) has always been that they teach other people how they can treat them. I have always taught them that if they stand up for themselves from day one (not in a mean way, but a fair way) and not put up with being bullied they will be a lot happier.

    Some days are harsh storms to navigate through. Some are really hard for moms to ride out too.

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Thank you for your kindness.