'My friend snubbed me after I shouted at her naughty kid for shoving my girl'

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'Her daughter is very confident' (stock image) (Image: Getty Images/Westend61)

Dear Coleen,

I feel really sad because I’ve kind of fallen out with a really good friend after an incident involving our daughters. They’re both three and a half and usually get on OK, however, her daughter is very confident and, dare I say, bossy to the point of being annoying ­sometimes. On the other hand, my little girl is fairly quiet and tends to go with the flow.

They’ve fallen out in the past, which I realise is normal, but recently my friend’s daughter got really mad and shoved my daughter in the garden, causing her to fall backwards down some stone steps. Luckily, she wasn’t hurt, other than a grazed elbow, but she could have smashed her head open. I reacted by shouting at the other girl that it wasn’t OK to push other people.

Instead of agreeing with me and telling off her daughter, my friend just went really quiet and then said they’d better go. I called her later to smooth over the situation, but she said that she would have dealt with her daughter if she’d been given the chance and that it was up to her to discipline her.

I reacted in the moment but, even so, if my daughter had done that, I’d have made the point of telling her off and would have apologised profusely. This all feels very awkward and I don’t really see what I’ve done wrong. I’ve sent her a few messages since with no reply.

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Coleen says

Being a mum of three, one of the things I’ve learned over the years is not to fall out over your kids, especially not when they’re toddlers. Kids that age are best friends one minute and sworn enemies the next. Because you don’t like how your friend’s daughter behaves around your little girl generally, I think these feelings have ­probably been building up for a while.

As a mum, it’s really hard when someone else tells off your kids because it also feels like you’re being told off – and judged as a parent. One of my sons and his cousin went through a phase of fighting when they were little, which was stressful for all concerned. But me and my sister Maureen sat down one night and agreed we wouldn’t fall out over the situation – ­incidentally, they’re so close now, they’re like brothers.

The incident with your daughter was scary, but very young children just don’t see the danger in situations and react on impulse without understanding consequences, which is why we need eyes in the back of our heads! If you want to remain friends, send another message and suggest meeting up without the kids.

Tell her you feel awkward about what happened and try to talk it through. And be realistic too – if your kids don’t get on that well, then don’t force their friendship. You can still be pals with the mum. Have grown-up playdates instead!

Coleen Nolan

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