where life, love and motherhood connect

Things a mother never wants to hear

We can just go ahead and file this one under: Things That Break A Mama’s Heart.

I’ve mentioned to you guys before what a sensitive soul my daughter is, and maybe what trouble she’s had making friends at school this year? In the beginning I imagined it was because:

– all of the other children already knew each other from preschool
– the girl clique was pretty strong, and pretty girly
– she doesn’t really like to play by other people’s rules

I thought, in time, things would work themselves out on their own — perhaps on the playground even … and to an extent, I guess they have. But I see flashes of my younger self in that one, I can sense from across the room when she feels less than, or outcast. It happens on an almost daily basis.

Her feelings don’t just get hurt, they get crushed. Often from the slightest of interactions and usually (for the most part) self-imposed but tonight as I lay her down to sleep, she said something that is still haunting me all these hours later.

They took a field trip to the museum at the end of the block today. Along the way, they walked in pairs of two and held each other’s hands. She held hands with a boy, another girl held hands with Brayden (* not his real name).

The fact that she even mentioned this seemed odd, so I thought maybe she had a crush on him or something. I ::almost:: teased her asking if she had wanted to hold hands with Brayden, that is … until I saw the tears.

Early in to the school year, her teachers pulled me aside and told me Sweet & Brayden were becoming good friends, and how great it was for both of them since they seemed to be pulling one another out of their shells. I was thrilled.

When I stopped by class a few days later, I tried to get the two of them to pose for a picture together, and my daughter flat-out refused — was ugly even. I thought it was girl-mones and let it pass.

That was 5 months ago.

I said, Well aren’t you two friends? “NO”, she said adamantly!

Oh, I thought you guys were. Why not?

“He doesn’t like me”

Oh, I’m sure he does. [again dismissing her feelings, as if they are misplaced]

“No, he doesn’t.”

Well, how do you know?

“He told me.”

Then her voice got very quiet, she whispered to me so her brothers couldn’t hear … “He doesn’t like me because I told him I can’t read.”

[Heart breaking] [Throat Shaking] [Not sure what to say …] What do you mean?, I asked.

“I told him one day during story time I could not read, and he moved away from me and said he didn’t want to play with me anymore.”

So, this is Kindergarten.
My heart is broken for my tender little girl, and all I could do was stress to her how SHE IS reading, and SHE IS doing a great job, and SHE IS is super smart.

But I know the damage has already been done.
She feels inadequate, less than, marred.
At just 6 years old and a couple days. It doesn’t matter if it’s true, or if she’s only believing it is. What matters is it is in there now, beating her up inside.

She’s a pretty strong reader, if you ask me. Maybe not back in October … but she knows her sight words, she’s mastering all of her take home books, and can read a few Dr. Seuss with only the occasional prompt. She loves books, and loves being able to read things on her own even more.

Deep down inside, I know none of this matters — nor is it the real root of the problem here.

What I’m left with is a hole in my heart,

How do I make my 6 year old feel shiny and new again?


Stacy is seeing the world in a whole new way – through the eyes of her children. She writes about the little things, the big things and all the “stuff” in between at Kids Stuff World.

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23 thoughts on “Things a mother never wants to hear”

  • Oh, Stacy. My heart breaks for both of you. She is such a glorious little girl (so much like her mama). I can’t bear to hear, either, that she is feeling “less than.”

    It sounds like you both need a little one-on-one time together to find a way to get through this tough time. Maybe do something to make her feel special. A girls’ day out for high tea (a suggestion given to me by friends in our mutual bloggers group!) or a pedicure (the place where I go has these adorable kid pedicure chairs and my daughter adores going there to be treated like a princess for special occasions). What about a trip to a bookstore so she can pick out a book she would like to read (maybe even to you)? Or maybe it’s something as simple as a walk in a park together to talk about everything and to remind her that she’s making great progress in her reading.

    You are both so wonderful and kind and loving. I have no doubt you’ll help her find her way back to shiny and new in no time. Hugs.

  • This reminds me of my second child. It would never occur to my first child that someone wouldn’t want to be his friend; he just assumes everything is great. My second child however assumes no one wants to be his friend. In kinder, the girls used to be so mean (I was totally unprepared for Mean Girls so young) that he would come home crying. It does break your heart because you have to get them to see their worth. We would do what Colleen suggested and have special time, and then we would also have him shout that he was awesome until he could do it like he meant it. I’m not usually all about self affirmations, but we were trying everything. Things have gotten better this year, but I think it’s something we have to watch.

  • I just want to come over to your house right now and give your sweet girl a BIG hug! My heart hearts for her. I go to a moms group in church called Moms of Grace and yesterday a mom was talking about a similar situation. One of the mothers suggested the parents pretending like the child isn’t there and then blatantly praising the child. Such as, “[Hubby name], can you believe how well our daughter has been reading lately? She can even read words like example, example, example. I’m so incredibly proud of her!” And then hubby reciprocates. She said that it really helped build confidence in her child. I’m saying a prayer for you guys today. HUGS!

  • My heart breaks for your daughter just reading this. I always tell my children that I wouldn’t ask them to do something I didn’t think they could do. Read to her. Let her “read” to you. Remind her she’s smart. And she’ll get there.

  • It’s so heartbreaking when little ones are sad. It this what kinder is like for her I can only imagine the horrors of middle school. I agree with the other comments about praising her. Maybe ask her teacher to let her know how well she is reading too.

  • Can I ask, do you and your family have a spiritual life? We all know that this kind of heartbreak and unworthiness comes to us throughout our lives. And as much as I wish a mother’s love was enough to make my children feel loved, I’m glad that my children know God and will have that light and love to turn to for hope in those time when they feel despair, loneliness, unworthiness. I will say a prayer of thanksgiving for your precious daughter, for your deep care and love for her, and a prayer that His plan for her (and Brayden) is revealed to you. On a practical side, I find it helpful to remind my children to pray for those who hurt them — teaching them empathy for others as well as to know they had beauty, strength and power that comes from within.

  • Poor baby! :( I am so sorry momma! {HUG} Maybe you can talk about all the things she CAN do. Definitely reiterate how PROUD you are of her – what a SUPER DOOPER AWESOME girl she is. Also, I would talk with the teacher about what’s going on – she might have some insight.

  • Oh, oh, this breaks my heart too. Before I became a stay at home mom, I was the director of a center for kids who struggled with reading, language comprehension, vocabulary development. And it just brought me back to all those little kids – some who really struggled and some who read just fine – who didn’t feel good enough in some way. And for their parents who were trying so so so hard to stop the hurt.

    It’s hard for me to know, because my kids are so young and I haven’t had to deal with the pressures of peers yet, not really (although it’s scary that even at 3 my daughter will come home and say “so-and-so said I couldn’t play with them” etc.
    But I believe, strongly, after working with SO many families for many years, that all you can do is continue to give her love and praise and positive feedback and somehow convince her that what other kids say and think doesn’t matter. It’s not an overnight solution…it’s a lifetime of work. Because regardless of what you do and what you say with her, something like this will happen again.
    Thinking about you. And your little one.
    And it sounds like she’s reading fine, but if you have any specific questions about reading, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email.

    A quote that resonated with me, from one of my favorite books, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”

    “It’s come at last”, she thought, “the time when you can no longer stand between your children and heartache.”

    Ain’t that the sad truth?

  • The biggest hurdle in teaching a child to read is overcoming self doubt. The need to believe they can read…that reading is EASY. I have taught several children to read using “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” by Seigfried Engelmann (for sale at Amazon.com here : http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Your-Child-Read-Lessons/dp/0671631985). The wonderful thing about this book is within the first few days they are reading a “story” (one simple sentence that has an illustration to go with it). It’s super exciting for them to know that they just read a story and it was easy! Any parent can use this book for any child. It only takes a few minutes each day and takes a child that may not even know any letter sounds to a second grade reading level in just 100 lessons. I’ve used it to teach my own 5 children to read and have amazing results each time. Feel free to email me with any questions.

    Blessings to your little one..


  • what a sweet girl. I agree with Colleen. Some one on one mommy and me time. My oldest daughter was very sensitive in prekinder-3rd. somewhere around fourth grade she very slowly started to come out of her shell. In many ways she still is sensitive. But that is one of the things I love about her. Things will change. In the mean time lots of hugs and kisses. Mommies hugs and kisses always make things better -until they get to be 13 of course-.

  • Read the The Child Whisper by Carol Tuttle, It will help you see the amazing potential within your sensitve soul daughter. I’ve been where you are at, I wish I had read this book earlier. Best Wishes, follow your heart you’ll know what to do.

  • Stacy, I’m hugging and praying for both of you right now.

    First off, I agree with everything Shari said.

    In addition, I lived what your daughter is going through albeit for different reasons. Here’s what happened to me. Every time I was rejected, I internalized it and developed a belief system that said, “I am not enough.” My parents tried to comfort me and tell me that other kids were jealous, that the kids saw my special heart and wanted one too and that was why they were mean to me. Unfortunately, my parents well-intentioned words didn’t help or take the pain away.

    Here are the things I wish my parents and other adults in my life would have done for me. Maybe these will give you some ideas.

    1. Told me the truth about the world.
    I wish they would have said, “There are wonderful, beautiful things in the world and you will have people in your life who love you. There are also mean people in the world. People who you thought you were friends who aren’t. People who will say and do mean things. It is going to happen and it will hurt when it happens. But because God made you the very special girl that you are, you need to fight those feelings telling you that you’re not good enough and tell your heart, “I don’t know why Brayden was mean to me. It hurts that he was mean to me. But Jesus made me special. And no one can take that away from me.”

    2 – Taught me to value myself.
    Somehow my value became intrinsically linked to what others thought of me. And what others thought of me became what I thought of myself. I wish someone would have sat down with me and asked me to make a list of all the things that were cool and special about myself. I was happy to hear it from my parents, but I needed to recognize these things in myself.

    3 – The difference between people I know and true, good friends.
    Your daughter may not struggle with this, but at some point I decided that I needed everyone to like me. And because of my internal struggle with my self-worth, the more someone didn’t like me, the more I was convinced they should be my friend. It would have been wonderful to learn how to be selective about friends, the qualities I should look for in a friend, what true friendship means, how to be a true friend in return and how to blow off others.

    I could go on, but I hope this helps Stacy. I will keep you and your daughter in my prayers.

  • Ohh that swwet girl, my heart hurts knowing she is filled with hurt. You are such an amazing mom and doing a great job surrounding her with positivity and love. It’s sad that even at 6 she has to experience negativity. Kids can be cruel and I wish I could say it gets better. Hugs to you both.

  • Wow. This is like my 7 year old has always been. I try to always assume the best scenario about school because I always (even still in 2nd grade) get tears and stories like you just told when he comes home from school. It’s so hard for Kinders to troubleshoot relationships and it kills me to not be a fly on the wall in the classroom. I would assume in this case that Brayden didn’t want to sit by her because he can’t read and was hoping that she would read to him, or something like that. My son could read when he was very very young, and never learned how to say “I can’t” until kindergarten. It was learned behavior from other kids saying it. I had to get my mean on and tell him we don’t say “I can’t”, only “I’m still working on it” if we are struggling with something. Anyway, contrats on having such a sweetie. And, as my son has gotten older, the friend thing has gotten way better, but kindergarten relationships can be hard for sensitive kids.

  • Oh Stacy, poor little Sweet. If only there was a way to protect them from heartbreak. She has your love and she will grow to be a strong, confident young woman with your guidance. I guess no one said it was going to be easy, but I sure wish it didn’t have to be this hard. Sending hugs to you both.

  • Oh I love Sweet and I love her Mamma. I love what some of the commenters have already said, so I’ll just add my love for you both. Hug that girl for Lisa! :)

  • Oh no! We experienced some similar stuff when Fidget was in kindergarten. One day he was telling a story and said that someone was his “pen friend” (I have no idea where he got that from) and when I asked him what that meant he said “oh, that means that I want to be friends with him but he told me he doesn’t want to be friends with me.”
    I’m not sure what you can do beyond what you’re already doing- showering her with love and affirmation. At the very least, she has a solid foundation at home. Peer interactions are tough.
    I also suggest more playdates with us. But that’s partly for me.

  • Hi Stacy,
    I am literally just finding you and your SM following today. Greetigs from Prince Edward Island, Canada!
    This story touches my heart because my oldest – now 17 – had challenges making friends (my younger two are just 5 and 8 and so I am now ‘sensitive’ to this and watching with ‘eagle eyes’ to see how they are doing/feeling each day when they come home from school).
    My five year old kindergartener also commented one time that he thought he couldn’t read – but it turned out he was comparing himself to his sister – so once I explained that he was doing just perfect for his age, he was content.
    The bigger issue (if reading isn’t the real issue) is that she feels abandoned by her friend(s) – which at that age feels like the end of the world. My suggestion would be hosting a party for some (or all) of her friends/class. Given all your special talents, making fun crafts/food ideas I am sure your daughter will be the center of attention and it will re-bond all of her classmates in a new, fun way.
    I am not suggesting that you ‘bribe’ friends for your daughter. It is just a way to get some of the kids into a new setting, with a different focus – at this age, it has a way of re-setting the group dynamic – and heck, it is fun for everyone!

  • yep. kids can be cold hearted little bastards. and it’s the way their parents raise them to be. it’s sad really… our children are growing up in a world full of hate and intolerance. makes me sick…

  • Oh, this breaks my heart too. Even in kindergarten children can be so cruel. My son, who is also in kindergarten, is extremely emotional and sensitive. The kind of kid who will cry when a beautiful song comes on. The kind of kid who takes words very seriously and holds them close to his heart. I am learning how to deal with him and how to help him. It’s not easy… I wish I had advice for you. I’ve heard/read that often times gifted children are extremely sensitive and emotional… do you think this may be the case?

  • Being sensitive /empathetic and generally switched on at such an early age is tough. I lived through similar circumstances with my son who is now 18 and off to Uni. He is a wonderful soul and I’m so grateful/lucky to have in my life. I used to joke that he was born an old soul with wing tips and a cardigan on… Other children knew he was different and even at school when he was 4, other children picked up on it and ostracised him at times. I gathered from your post that your daughter likes children her own age, but is she most comfortable with adults? I do agree with Jenny that extremely sensitive/shy children can be very gifted…It can be madness, but trying a lot of group activities until she finds one that clicks will help, something away from school. Talking with her also can help. Kids often think issues through without the experience to always come to a rational conclusion. Talking about anxieties/frustrations/and things they do so well can help them come to alternative conclusions. She will get through this blip and then there will be others, but you both will get through it.

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