Overly attached friends

Discussion in 'First Grade' started by moxie421, May 25, 2014.

  1. moxie421

    moxie421 New Member

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    May 25, 2014

    I'm looking for advice on how to deal with a situation between 2 girls in my first grade classroom. I've noticed that the 2 girls are attached at the hip, but until it was brought to my attention by a parent, I didn't realize the friendship was so one sided. Basically, it seems as if the one girl is smothering the other and not allowing her to be independent in her choices, or making her feel bad about not doing things together.

    "Jane" feels a little smothered by "Emma". For example, not being able to go to the bathroom by herself, can't sit with the other girls, etc. Emma seems to have a very strong personality and Jane doesn't want to hurt her feelings, hence putting up with it for the entire school year. Emma is also a new student this year, and latched onto Jane from Day 1 of school. Initially, it seemed to be a great match, but as the year has gone on, Jane is feeling overwhelmed by how intense Emma can be. She hasn't voiced this to me as the classroom teacher, but has to her parents, who have reached out to me for help.

    Because of their academic levels, the girls will most likely be placed in the same class for second grade. Jane's parents are worried that Emma will continue to smother Jane and make her feel bad about spending time with other girls. I don't see anything negative going on between the girls in the classroom. Neither one of them seems unhappy with their friendship. However, if Jane is feeling this way and opening up to her parents, I want to help as best I can.

    Does anyone have any advice or experience in dealing with a similar issue? How do you tell a first grader to back off from someone she calls her best friend?
     
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  3. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    May 25, 2014

    Have you tried talking to them and to Emma's parents? I had a new student who set his sights on my most popular boy. The popular boy saw that this student would do everything that he did and he just had to insinuate something and this new student would do it (i.e. He'll say things such as "I'm on red light, I wonder if new student will be on red light soon?" and the new student will say, "Probably soon." I put an end to it by talking to each parent, each boy separately and each boy together. I called the popular boy out on what I observed and told him how unhappy I was on his trying to control his new friend and I focused on the new student thinking for himself and doing things that he wanted to do also, as it was not fun just doing things that someone else wants to do. I reminded them that a friend wants you to be happy. I also told both boys that I would be watching them closely and informing their parents on their progress.

    I also separated them at lunch so that the student could build friendships with the other students and they were not paired up for classwork until I saw an improvement in their interactions (I told the boys and their parents that this will be occurring). I don't play. :lol:
     
  4. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    May 25, 2014

    I would also suggest to the 2nd grade teacher to separate the two girls and to not group them together for activities for the first couple weeks of school. Maybe Emma will find a new friend.
     
  5. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    May 25, 2014

    I would start arguing a case about them being separated in 2nd grade. I take it that your school ability groups? We did that one year in 5th grade when we departmentalized, and we had a group of kids that had to be separated. It worked OK. The child placed with the 'high' class did well. It was good for her to be outside of her clique of friends. The child placed in the 'low' class also did very well. She was able to be a leader and she really shined. Coincidentally, the two girls left in the 'middle' group really stayed average.
     
  6. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    May 25, 2014

    Ability levels aside, split them up. They need that separation over being grouped by ability.
     
  7. moxie421

    moxie421 New Member

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    May 25, 2014

    They will definitely be placed together in second grade because they are the only two first graders who are in the gifted program. Chances are they will be together for their elementary career. Because of their high reading level, they will be in the same guided reading group as well because there aren't any other first graders at their level. Jane's parents have said they reached out to Emma's parents as well, but they didn't have any success. I'm afraid if I talk to Emma about how Jane feels, it will anger her and I don't want to break her trust in her friend. Girl drama can start so young!
     
  8. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    May 25, 2014

    How does your school do gifted at that age? Could they be in separate rooms, but one goes to the other teacher just for reading? This would minimize interaction.
     
  9. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    May 25, 2014

    Despite academic groupings, the impact of being socially smothered should be considered...and how that can affect Jane's progress as a learner. :2cents:
     
  10. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Why should it matter if it angers Emma? I think you and Jane's parents can prepare her for any anger that may result due to you talking to Emma. You can't let Jane suffer because Emma will be upset.
     
  11. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    Do you only have 1 2nd grade class? Do Jane's parents know that she will be in Emma's class next year? If they don't I would let them know and then hope that they will talk to the principal.
     
  12. ku_alum

    ku_alum Aficionado

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    May 26, 2014

    Still talk to the parents. Maybe hearing a similar message a 2nd time, something will click for them.
     
  13. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    May 26, 2014

    Unless the girls need to be in the same class due to IEPs then I would tell the parents to speak the principal about placement for next year. I would try to keep the girls apart in class and encourage Emma to make other friends. But placement is out of teachers' control at my school and I would stay out of that and refer the parents to admins. They have a valid reason to ask their child be placed in a different class.
     
  14. Em_Catz

    Em_Catz Devotee

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    May 26, 2014

    I think everyone has already given great suggestions, so I'll just give a :thumb:to everything I've heard so far and make a literary suggestion. Have you read the story "Ruby the Copy Cat?"

    I read it to my first graders each year and they love it. If you're not familiar, a new girl named Ruby smothers her classmate Angela. She thinks Angela is the greatest, so she does everything like her and always wants to hang around her.

    Then Angela hurts Ruby's feelings and when the teacher talks to Ruby about being herself, Ruby decides to start imitating the teacher.

    At the end of the story, they're having show and tell and Ruby says she went to the Opera "just like the teacher" then when the teacher says, "Did you do anything?" Ruby talks about how she hopped, and the teacher puts on music and everyone "copies" Ruby.

    My class always laughs about it, we talk about how Ruby felt and more importantly how we would feel if someone keeps copying us and doesn't give us space. We talk about how there our classroom is full of new friends, but we have to reach out to them and not just focus on one person.

    Maybe that'll help. Good luck either way!
     
  15. moxie421

    moxie421 New Member

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    May 26, 2014

    Thank you for all of the advice! I will talk to the team who places the girls for second grade and explain the situation to see if they can be placed separately. I love the book idea too Em_Catz... I'll see if my library has it!
     
  16. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    May 26, 2014

    If you aren't seeing it happen, even now when you are specifically looking for it, then the worst of it is probably happening when you aren't around. Separate them at lunch time, and inform lunch monitors that you want them separated. If need be, have a couple trustworthy students inform you if they sit near one another. Find excuses to keep one of the two near you at recess. If they ask to go to the bathroom, assign them a bathroom buddy. Inform the specials teachers that you'd like them kept apart. Specifically assign them to different groups for any group work. Even for guided reading, meet with them at different times. Put Emma in a group with a lot of girls, and find ways to force interaction between her and the other girls in your room.
     
  17. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    May 26, 2014

    moxie, please don't depend on the grade 2 teacher to deal with this issue. I can't imagine the stress that Jane may feel during the summer whenever she thinks about returning to school and having to deal with Emma.
     
  18. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    May 26, 2014

    Another thing... is it at all possible that Jane's parents exaggerated things, or happened to stumble into things right when they were at their worst?

    As an example... About six weeks ago, a parent emailed me with concerns about their child (Billy) and another student (Suzie). I made a point of watching their interactions... they were already as far apart in my room physically as was possible (coincidentally, I had no reason to specifically separate them), and whenever they interacted, it was always Billy that started the interaction. Suzie was friendly, but never went out of her way to be near Billy. I met with mom and dad on Friday, and mentioned this... come to find out, Billy had an argument with Suzie, they apparently had two tense days, Billy told mom about it, mom emailed me, and Billy and Suzie had later made up.
     

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