Help! I don’t know how to deal with my situation! My good friend’s son beats up on my daughter (they’re both 3) whenever they are together. I really like my friend and so far have not been able to tell her how uncomfortable I feel about it. I want to protect my daughter and help the children learn to relate better with each other AND I want to be able have an honest relationship with my friend ! How do I do it?


Dear Panicked,

My heart goes out to you! Although it is tricky to navigate these waters YOU CAN DO IT! Here’s how. Sit down and have a heart to heart WITH YOURSELF! Ask yourself these questions: Try using a mirror to answer.

What is my number one responsibility in raising my daughter? (Keeping her safe.)
If I say nothing to my friend, what will happen? (My daughter will continue getting hurt.)

How does my child feel every time this happens? (Sad, hurt, angry, betrayed.) What message am I sending my child? (Boys beat you up and Mom’s don’t help you.) (OUCH!)

What will my friend do if I tell her the truth? (She might get mad.)
How do I feel each time I don’t tell her that this is really bugging me? (Resentful, angry, sad, afraid: POWERLESS.)

Now let’s weigh bottom lines:

My daughter’s safety & life messages vs “My friend might get mad/hurt.” HMMMMM...

OK, you get it. Now do this: Get that you are the adult. It’s your job to do something.

I suggest you try this:

Tell your friend: “I need some help. I need to change the situation between your son and my daughter. Now I’m guessing that this situation is as uncomfortable for you as it is me. And that maybe you’ve been struggling with it too. What do you think? What can we do?“

Then brainstorm together: Consider:

  • Frequency of play dates (Cut down for awhile.)
  • Supervision. (Is this about creating successful experiences with the kids OR us moms visiting?) THE KIDS NEED SUPERVISION!
  • Duration of play dates. (Watch for triggers and try to intervene and redirect before it comes to blows. Set dates for shorter amounts of time.)
  • Decide all together (children & adults) the rules of play dates and what is acceptable behavior, “How Do we act.”
  • Practice. Role play. Both to practice acceptable interaction, AND... You be them, they be you, watch how they break you up.

Remember that you all care about each other and it is time to move to the next level of creating healthy relationships. YOU CAN DO IT!