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Dancing Jealousies


Clara
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I have noticed recently that the more dd seems to improve and shine in her dancing the further her once friends seem to keep a distance in class. (I’m privy to this as I’m a teaching assistant at one of her ballet classes and run the performance group that she also belongs too) At one of the classes I was teaching this evening I had to run a routine for an upcoming local talent competition that we are entering. Not all of the children are participating (Either because they have chosen not to due to extra rehearsal commitments or they are no longer attending the class after the summer holidays when the final will take place if they are successful at the heats) DD was dancing with her usual zeal and applying herself with lots of effort and enthusiasm (I just want to add that I am often harder on her than any of my other students despite the fact that she is the strongest in this particular class and probably don’t praise her as often as I should) During the routine I was aware that the girls watching had huddled together and were giggling and whispering staring directly at dd. Maybe wrongly I didn’t say anything at the time because I hoped dd hadn’t picked up on and didn’t want to single her out as she’d probably be embarrassed if I told her friends of. But I did notice her face crumble and she lost some of her zest. As soon as we got out of class she told me that they were all laughing at her and that she felt like crying. These children are supposedly her friends both in and outside of class. I feel really bad for her and the only conclusion I can come to is that they are jealous. I was just wondering if any of you have had any similar problems and how you deal with them or advise your children how to deal with them? Dd is 10.

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How tough for her! I don't have any advice really except I can identify with this in some ways. I didn't have a parent assisting/directing us (maybe that has something to do with it no matter how you try and not single her out) but I know that working hard and showing enthusiasm in dance class often made others jealous, but maybe that's because in my case the other girls weren't that serious and thought I was "swotting". Are the others in her classes serious about dance? Is she perhaps more than them? Did she tell you what she felt like crying about?

 

So sorry to hear it and hope she's ok! Big hug to the both of you!

Edited by miss.pointe
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Thank you! The class I run is completely different to her other more serious exam based dance classes in that it is purely a performance class resulting in shows a couple of times a year. The style for her particular age group would probably be closely described as modern dance/musical theatre (Minus any singing!) Of the others in her class she is one of four who takes other dance classes in either ballet or modern, dd takes both and does do very well in them too. The other girls within the class not taking additional lessons are probably there as much to see their friends as anything else but ultimately see it as a fun and recreational dance class. Dd on the other hand strives to be the best she possibly can in all of her dance classes and will always put on the same show in class as she would on show night! It's just the way she is, she just really does love to dance, it's more than a hobby to her.

It was just upsetting to see her crumble like she couldn't dance with the passion that she usually would in fear of being mocked bless her.

You could be right though, I hadn't thought that just by being my daughter she could be in for a hard time from others regardless of how she dances be it the best or worst in the class!

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Thank you! The class I run is completely different to her other more serious exam based dance classes in that it is purely a performance class resulting in shows a couple of times a year. The style for her particular age group would probably be closely described as modern dance/musical theatre (Minus any singing!) Of the others in her class she is one of four who takes other dance classes in either ballet or modern, dd takes both and does do very well in them too. The other girls within the class not taking additional lessons are probably there as much to see their friends as anything else but ultimately see it as a fun and recreational dance class. Dd on the other hand strives to be the best she possibly can in all of her dance classes and will always put on the same show in class as she would on show night! It's just the way she is, she just really does love to dance, it's more than a hobby to her.

It was just upsetting to see her crumble like she couldn't dance with the passion that she usually would in fear of being mocked bless her.

You could be right though, I hadn't thought that just by being my daughter she could be in for a hard time from others regardless of how she dances be it the best or worst in the class!

Hard though it is it is probably something she will have to get used to. Just be there to support her and help her keep her faith in herself. True friends won't be like that.

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Clara my dd is 12 yr 7 was at Hammond until today. she was so distressed it was clear she needed someone to take control of the situation and remove her, caring environment, hardly but don't worry I'm sure the instigator is fine tonight !!! This kind of thing goes on at all levels and the only thing my dd is worried about now is that this person has won got the better of her and made her feel more worthless than she already did. So much for pastoral care

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This kind of thing goes on in both genders and in just about every situation all through life.

 

I told my son once - if you are like something, work at it and make progress, there are those who will laugh, poke fun, etc. 

 

But if you are not making progress they will still laugh, poke fun, etc.  

 

So, you might as well  work at it and make progress.

 

The trick is not to allow these pesky people to control the situation.  If you allow them to distract, hurt or otherwise run you off  -they win. 

 

If one continues to do the very best one is capable of - you end up a good dancer.  They end up with nothing.

 

These girls are not your daughter's friends and never were. 

 

As for how the teacher handles it......I am convinced that the teacher has to control the "outer" situation.  Since you are the teacher, this makes it very difficult for you.  In an ordinary setup, whilst the teacher cannot control what she cannot see (like what happens in the dressing room) but giggling and whispering during class is not proper behavior. 

 

Along with teaching dance, (or any subject), comes a lesson in respect for the efforts of others.  The class should be a team.  No one shines if they don't all shine.  This is especially true in performing.  They should be rooting for one another, not putting anyone down. 

 

I think this should be taught from the first day no matter the age.  I had one class in particular that had this problem.  I took over from a teacher who left the school.  She believed in making the girls compete against one another and purposely fostered a very tense atmosphere thinking that this would make them better dancers.  There were some girls who wouldn't even stand next to certain others.  Giggling and other disrespectful behavior was commonplace. 

 

To break through this unhealthy environment, I choreographed a dance in which each girl had to depend upon another - and every time we rehearsed we switched partners and groups.  That way everyone in the class began to feel an important part of the whole.  No one could succeed without the entire group working as a team. 

 

When the performance was over and I saw the girls ecstatic with their GROUP success - they had learned something more important than choreography.

 

As well as some teachers who either allow and/or foster this kind of environment, it would never surprise me to learn that the parents (mothers, mostly) often were involved.  I saw it start as young as 5 yrs old and come directly from the various mothers. 

 

Since your daugher is in your class - your situation is more complicated.  Frankly, if your daugher has done something to earn praise - praise her by praising the action:  "That was a terrific pirouette" rather than "You are wonderful at priouettes."  I think this removes some of the "personal" flavor.  But, because she is your daughter is no reason for her not to be praised for her success.

 

If there is a group gathered in a corner giggling - that's not proper dance class behavior.  One stands quietly while someone else is dancing and then gets that respect in return. 

 

This isn't easy!

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I am so sorry Balletbun but I think you have done the right thing, girls can be very clever when they spot competition amongst class and can lead to such endings where parents have to take control and get them home to a safe environment. I have met your daughter and she is one of the nicest, polities and extremely talented girls I no. Good luck to her and what a loss for the Hammond.

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Its very hard when one of the pupils is your own child- I tried to avoid this as much as possible.  I've known lots of friends and colleagues who had their offspring in class and we invariably found that we were harder on them or ignoring them so as not to be seen to favour them. But however impartial we tried to be there were still always some dissent from someone rightly or wrongly perceiving favouritism.

 

However, giggling and whispering etc at an individual is not acceptable behaviour even in the most informal of classes. I'd ask myself if I would handle the situation differently if the child being laughed at wasn't my child? 

 

Everyone handles situations differently but I certainly would have challenged these students- "might I ask what you were talking about?"  and then berated them for talking whilst someone else was dancing.  And I also get students to apologise if they have been a distraction to someone else through inconsiderate behaviour. Another tactic is to get the person who was laughing etc to then take their turn, on their own, without help as "because you were talking you so obviously must know what you are doing..."   My methods may seem old fashioned to some but I can not abide bullying and my class sizes stay constant, in fact some of my most difficult students ended up my most loyal...

 

And yes, getting students to work as a team and respect each other is a good life lesson. Witnessed some lovely behaviour this week as students applauded each other performing solos in class.

 

I do agree with what Anjuli says about that fact that some people will laugh and poke fun whether you are making progress or not so you may as well continue to make progress.  However in a class the teacher should certainly take control of the situation regardless of whether the students concerned are related or not. But its not easy and I do admire you Clara for having kept your natural motherly instincts under control but you would certainly have been well within your rights as a teacher to have admonished these students for talking and giggling whilst someone else was dancing.

 

Edited by hfbrew
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Oddly enough dd has the opposite problem. Despite being the only serious dancer in her drama/Musical theatre class where i work (though some of the class are serious about their drama) she has always fitted in really well. Others praise her singing and she never has any problems. The main thing is being careful not to give her too many solos or lead parts.

 

It's a different matter at her school and ballet school (though the ballet teacher is on top of the situation which is a spill over from school.

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Balletbun that's really sad to hear. Your poor dd. Is it an absolute final decision or is there anything that still can be salvaged so that she can continue with her training at Hammond which she presumably enjoys? I hope something can be arranged where she will be happy and still be able to continue dancing even if it is somewhere else.

 

I know the dance world can be a tough one but I guess it is always hard to witness first hand when you are teaching the class. Anjuli, as a whole all of my classes ultimately have to work as a team as like I said we are an amateur performance group working towards shows which only involve class routines. There are no solos etc so usually there are very few occasions where others would be sat watching. I am extremely anti bullying but there have been various occasions where I have had to speak to a couple of classes with regards to their attitudes towards other members of the class. It often tends to come in with my group which is school years 4-6 and the next class school years 7-9. I have to emphasise the class is not like a ballet, modern or any other exam orientated class as it doesn't generally attract the same kind of children. It is more of an alternative for children who may not succeed in these type of classes. Although I happen to have attracted a handful of talented dancers who have either progressed as a result of my classes and I have therefore recommended them to take ballet or other classes additionally or they have come to me from the ballet school that I assist at. I quite often consider my dd to be tougher and forget that she is only 10 and that despite her ability and outward confidence can be just as upset by other children’s mean behaviour. As this is something we are going to have to do for the next few lessons I am going to speak to the group involved and split them up and sit them on their own or maybe set them an alternative task for the last 10 minutes of class whilst the other group are rehearsing. You’re right hfbrew, I would have said something immediately had it been another child receiving the same treatment. I don’t claim to be a perfect or even wonderful teacher, but I have developed a school of 70 over the past 7 years that I have been established and a lot of my now older girls started with me as littlies when the school opened! As I assist at my old ballet school also, I am totally aware of the differences between the atmosphere of the 2 classes. Whilst I prefer the more structured, disciplined ballet classes (and ballet is my first love anyway), my performance classes are all practically treble in size, so they are definitely offering something that children are looking for and enjoy doing. It is a learning experience as much for me in dealing with other issues that take place within class besides the dancing! Thank you all for your replies, I will definitely try to take your advice on board!

 

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Balletbun, what an awful experience for your DD. I hope she is feeling better now that she is away from the issue and that she can still take pleasure in her dancing.

 

If she has definitely left the Hammond but wants to continue with vocational training, is it worthwhile contacting Elmhurst and asking for her to be auditioned there on 26th? I know the closing date for applications was yesterday but would hope that in the circumstances they would allow her to be considered.

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My dd's teacher sends students out of class if they chat, giggle or mess about during class - and quite right too.

 

Clara, I would say to your dd that "friends" who treat her like that are not actually her friends. In time she will make friends with people who accept that dancing is her "thing" and most likely these will be girls who also have a passion like dance, music or sport.

 

There will always be girls who are competitive, envious, and - as dd's teacher says - would "eat their own grandmother to get to where they want to go".

 

But I read a great quote the other day - on Capezio's Facebook page IIRC - which said "the only way to succeed is to not worry about what anyone else is doing". In other words - just do your thing.

 

In terms of dealing with the giggling and whispering - personally I would give the whole class a warning that disrespectful behaviour will not be tolerated and that if it continues then the perpetrator(s) will be sent out of class.

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Clara, I echo what Anjuli has said. Whatever you excel in, there will be someone pointing the finger and laughing at you in an attempt to make you feel small. It happens in every area, not just dance - although the 'ballet mothers' of caricature are very real, encouraging their children to laugh at/put down/bad mouth others.

 

Your DD will need to cope with jealousy, which is what this is, because if she allows it to put her off then the other children have won. She will have allowed them to make her feel small. I think if she understands that, it may be easier for her to deal with it because she can then feel sorry for these children's awful behaviour whilst 'rising above it'. I am sure she already understands why you don't perhaps praise her as effusively as the others in the class but maybe if you talk to her about that as well as about her learning to deal with jealous children - and their parents - she will be further reassured that you will continue to do everything possible to help her.

 

It will take time and she is only 10, but if she can feel sorry for people who display ugly, jealous behaviour then she will retain her self-esteem. Sending virtual hugs to you both!

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Thank you! That is exactly what I did tell her after class Legseleven! It was horrible to see her crushed and watch her dancing slip for a moment because of what she'd seen. I have told her not to give them the satisfaction and to keep on doing what she does best! I have told her that she will face those who are jealous of her and that she too will witness those who are much better than her and that she should not be jealous but aspire to be like them and learn from them. (I was particularly referring to her NYB audition where many of the girls were way ahead of her.....but thankfully she was still successful in being offered a place!)

 

I think from everyone’s comments I will speak to the group as a whole next week and say that this type of behaviour will not be tolerated and hopefully this will squash it before it develops any further. With exams and auditions this weekend I hope dd comes back fighting!

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As a retired teacher of Primary age children I can say it takes a lot of hard work and attention and experience to set up a classroom atmosphere which is truly conducive to learning and is genuinely supportive of each individual. I thought I was getting it about right after many years of teaching!! But to foster the feeling that everybody has something to contribute no matter what their ability and for everybody to recognise when any individual within a group has achieved above their norm is not easy and takes a lot of energy and sometimes quick reactions by a teacher to capture certain moments.

 

I found that quick access to any individual in the class group was an important key and in the days before teaching became quite so prescriptive as it generally is today I used to experiment with different classroom layouts. My favourite when the size of the room allowed was a sort of three sided square so all the children could see each other no backs turned and I could be in the middle to quickly access any child to see if "stuck" or work needed positive rewarding. It is so important to foster this group feeling and that unpleasant or destructive comments are dealt with sometimes openly sometimes privately.....teachers have to judge this too.

Often you find that there is a bit of a ringleader in these giggly whispery groups who is feeling threatened and may also need some support but I agree this cannot be tolerated in a class like that and either the whole culture needs changing within that group or particular individuals have to be identified and dealt with appropriately.

 

I love Anjuli's post and she does just about say it all really.

 

I hope both girls situation can be resolved soon......and maybe the girl at Hammond can have a rethink about her situation there....can the school be approached about this problem? Being away from home is very tough for some even if they enjoy the ballet/music or whatever and girls entering puberty need a lot of extra support in my opinion as this in itself can sometimes cause problems within a group if not dealt sensitively enough with. If she is happy with her studies there it seems a shame for these to be disrupted for problems which may be resolvable.

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My dd has the same problem at her local ballet school. Sometimes she is really upset and I constantly have to

remind her that she is going to that school to learn ballet. But she is 11 and crazy about dancing, and it matters

to her to be liked by her peers. Thinking about if changing schools will be better for her. She likes her teachers

but she expects a lot from them and often they don't deliver.

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I can't really make any suggestions about how to handle the class as I am not a teacher. However, I agree with spanner that it is important that your daughter understands that true friends are kind, loyal and supportive rather than nasty, undermining, jealous and possessive. It's a really important lesson to learn. I often read the Guardian's online "problem pages" and it's depressing how often the problem concerns a toxic (adult) friendship. Platonic friendships are a prelude to romantic relationships and if a person tolerates a toxic friendship then it is *more likely* (obviously it's not inevitable) that she (and it usually is a she) will end up with a romantic partner who does not treat her very well. Obviously, children can fall out and there can be unpleasantness without the friendship necessarily being toxic. However, if a friend is persistantly unpleasant or there is a deep vein of jealousy running through the friendship then it is time to call a halt to the friendship (IMO).

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Such a shame. In my experience, the teachers don't really know what goes on with the girls at a detailed level. There was a girl at my DD's school who used to smirk and laugh at the girls who were considered good and tried hard. It really affected the confidence of one girl who then deliberately started to not try and not be praised, just so this girl and her couple of cronies wouldn't laugh at her. The teacher had no idea what was going on and became really concerned about the girl, but if course no-one would tell her the true story. My DD had told me what was going on and in the end I had a quiet word with her parents. Still don't know if it was the right thing to do or not.

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That is just awful but it does happen in every school.  Whether she was leaving at the end of the year should have been completely irrelevant.  Some schools are just not good at dealing with problems as it can often result in having uncomfortable conversations with parents who often see their children permanently through rose tinted spectacles.  I suspect she was probably very talented and some of the other girls found her a threat due to their own insecurities.  I hope she finds somewhere else to shine!

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Balletbun I hadn't realised your daughter was leaving....and due to financial reasons....so so difficult all this. But in fact to me makes your daughter's situation even worse. To have to take a final leave in this way.......what should be a cherished memory ruined like this. Is there no way before the end of term that anything can be rectified so she can say goodbye to her real friends properly?

 

I have no idea what the pastoral care is like at any of these vocational schools but it should be of particular good quality when children are boarding in this way. However some children can be very self contained and not want to make a fuss etc so some things may get missed by the teachers or house staff. Though again one hopes there is an atmosphere deliberately set up that would encourage children to quietly share their problems with a trusted staff member who can then hopefully deal sensitively with the situation.

 

I really hope this gets sorted to suit all.

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Balletbun, I feel for you and your dd in what has obviously been a very difficult time. However, I would advise caution in what is posted about this situation; firstly because this is a very public forum and open for anyone on the internet to read. I would not want anyone's identity - including your dd's - to be unwittingly revealed in such a public arena.

 

 

Secondly, before the thread gets into the realms of making highly critical postings about the school, pastoral care, staff members and/or pupils, please remember that in accordance with our Acceptable Use Policy highly critical postings must not be made under a pseudonym or anonymous username.

 

I appreciate that in situations like this feelings run very high, but posts must not contravene our Acceptable Use Policy.

 

Many thanks,

 

Spannerandpony

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Jealousy in dance schools is very common.  My dd has recently gone through this and been called a "Ballet Freak" becasue she is not particularly interested in commercial and street dance, but excels in ballet and contemporary.  This had been going on for several months until she broke down in class due to the pressure, and told her dancing teacher and the principal of the dance school.  The school have been brilliant and dealt with it really well.    However this is going to happen to her again at some point I have no doubt, so we have had a long discussion about how to handle it and about why it happens.

My dd lives to dance and is determined not to let this get to her, but is lucky to have some close friends, both inside and outside of the dance school.

 

It's important that your daughter knows that you are behind her and support her and in some respects to teach her that the opinion of her peers is not neccessary, especially if it makes her unhappy.  It's a hard lesson to learn when they are young, but  "those who matter will care, and those who don't care, don't matter!" 

 

 

Edited for spelling mistakes!

Edited by Huddsballetmum
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From our youngest days of associating with others, the world seems to divide itself into two groups:  the inside crowd and the outside crowd.  The inside crowd was usually a few select souls setting up pseudo standards against which the outside crowd was measured.  Most of us managed somehow to succeed despite the inside crowd's attempts to manipulate the environment.  I found that I was happier when I found my friends amongst the outsiders who were probably looking for true friends just as I was looking for true friends.

 

In other words, if I could sideline those insiders from my emotional life (it's not always possible to do this physically) then they ceased to matter and they had no power over me. It's not easy to do and it does take effort - but in the end it does work. 

 

I often asked myself - who would I rather be - someone like "them?" or someone like me?  Would I be happy being an "insider" going to bed at night knowing i had deliberately hurt someone? 

 

The problem is the kind hearted well intentioned people are often taken by surprise that someone else for no reason except to infilct hurt willl take the time and effort to do so.    While one girl is concentrating on her dancing - another is concentrating on hurting her.  The dancing girl is jerked back from her concentration into a hard reality imposed on her for no reason.  Even if she is an adult it is hard for her to react except with pain.   

 

But this isn't limited to children.  When in my 40's I decided to take piano lessons so as a ballet teacher I could communicate more clearly with the class pianist.  So, twice a week I walked to the music school (only two blocks away) carrying my beginner piano books.  Several of my neighbors happened to be chatting and greeted me as I passed.  One of them noticed my beginner piano books and asked if I were taking lessons.  Well, they all simply relished the idea that I would be sitting with a bunch of young children waiting for my lesson.  Their hilarity soon knew no bounds and each week I found myself walking through a gauntlet of derisive laughter.  

 

These were neighbors I knew well - had by that time already lived here for 20 yrs.  Otherwise, these ladies were friendly, intelligent, educated - but - they really weren't any of those things were they? 

 

The only answer I've ever found is to find friends among those who want to be a friend.  And as much as possible don't allow the "insiders" to impose their pseudo-power.  It's hard for adults - its even harder for children. 

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Just throwing our experience in the mix...

I too have a dd that was ostracized by her dancing peers when she was younger (around 9-10yo). It was caused by jealousy of one particular student who encouraged the other classmates to shun her. One day when the studio was cold and during break, the girls huddled around the heater and they told her to go away. OUCH! They did the whisper - look - giggle thing often.

DD has pretty thick skin so although it bothered her it didn't kill her spirit. She wouldn't let me talk to the teacher as she thought it might make it worse so we came up with a plan.... kill em with kindness. She started with the other girls first... small compliments, enthusiastic greetings etc and it took time (months) but the 'shunning' ceased and the perpetrator stopped. Ironically, the only girl my dd is still friends with is the perpetrator (it is 6 years later).

And she is  a lovely young woman now and shows no signs of that horrible little brat from 6 years ago.

I am not saying this is the ideal way to handle the situation. There are different levels of bullying and each needs to be dealt with accordingly. But girls seem to go through a phase where they can just be little you-know-whats. It's not easy to see our babies hurt. At the time I wanted to raise hell-fire and if my dd wasn't as strong as she is, I would have.

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My elder DD has unfortunately also had the experience, starting in her primary school with the girl unfortunately at the same ballet school.  Bullying is however a very difficult issue for teachers and parents to deal with.  As parents it really hurts to see your child suffer and unhappy but as parents too you are unlikely to believe that your child IS the bully.  As for the teacher, as one explained to us when we spoke to her, although we were not the only parents to complain about this girl's behaviour, it is very difficult for them to take direct action when they have not seen any signs of it.  This particular girl came across as a friendly, kind popular  girl and no adult ever witnessed or heard her say or do anything.  The best they could do was to give whole class talks on behaviour, respect and treatment of others as they could not single out an individual when it was one child's word against the other.  Through ballet my DD was constantly thrown in with her bully but at one stage she took an exam ahead of her.  When the other girl moved up she seemed to have mellowed towards my DD and matured somewhat and the bullying just stopped.  Like the posters DD above, the only person my DD is still friends with from the original gang this girl led, is the girl herself.  Although never close friends they have co-existed and become friends since they were about 14.

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Thank you all for sharing your insights and experiences. As usual I have been given some really useful advice on this forum and have read all of your posts with interest and empathy in some cases! So thank you to everyone who has taken the time to post. Dd seems a lot happier again today, she doesn't let the punches knock her down for long!

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