DD can't see outside herself

DD came home today and showed me the picture she'd drawn for the cover of
her binder. We live in a college town, and so 90% of the kids in her class
like the local university. DD, like maybe 5% of her classmates, likes the
rival university (where I went to school). Mostly this rivalry doesn't
cause problems, but it is a bigger deal among 5th graders than I thought it
would be.

Okay, so she drew the logo for this rival college and inserted it into the
cover of her binder. So far, so good. But she also wrote "<local college>
stinks!" around the outside. Not so good. So I told her that she had to
take them out. I gave her several options -- she could cut out the insults,
she could redraw the logo on a new sheet of paper, or I could find and print
out the logo for her on the computer.

Well, she went ballistic. First, when she knows I'm going to say something
she doesn't like, she will refuse to look at me. He posture in this case
was pretty typical, slouched in her chair, looking away, arms crossed over
her chest.

I explained to her that it's fine to support her own school choice, but it's
not fine to insult anyone else's choice. I pointed out that she might not
like it if all those other people were putting down her school, but she
said, "*I* wouldn't *care*!!" I said that I wouldn't allow her to have
putdowns on her binder nonetheless. I told her that if she didn't fix it I
would take it out. She said she'd just make another one! Finally, in
exasperation, I told her that if she did that, I would contact her teacher,
or whatever it took to make sure she didn't have insults on her binder.

So, first question: Did I way overreact? Looking at it written down, it
seems like I did. I guess it's a gray area. If she'd written "Jewish
People Stink!" Or "Mary stinks!" It clearly would have been wrong. But
since college is less of an emotional issue, and since the group she was
insulting is the majority group, maybe I should have let it pass?

Second, where did I go wrong in my communication with her? What do I do
when she closes down like that? It frustrates the heck out of me when I'm
trying to talk to her, explain things to her, and she just figuratively puts
her hands over her ears and refuses to listen.

Third, and this is the larger issue, how can I encourage empathy? She has
this huge sense of fairness -- or perhaps unfairness. She sees the world as
a huge place that is consistently unfair to her personally. And yet, she
will not see or acknowledge that anything unfair ever happens to anyone
else. Or if it does, then it wasn't as bad as what happened to her. I
should probably split this topic into a different thread as it is really
huge. For example, her brother was home sick from school one day. She
moaned and groaned about how unfair it was that he got to stay home (okay)
and he's just a big faker anyway (not so okay, and not true as he was
demonstrably sick) Worse, she continued to call him a big faker for the
next couple of days, over and over again. And she went so far as to go to
the school nurse and complain that her stomach hurt. Yet when she's sick
and he isn't, then she moans and groans about how unfair it is that she's
always the one to get sick, and how unfair that is. If they both catch
something, then it's far worse for *her*.

It's not just illness, it's pretty much everything. This is a daily thing
with her, and it makes her difficult to live with. Help!



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