Hi! I'm sorry that the chat ended after you went offline. But I'll be glad to help you with this issue based on the information you've provided me here.
This is indeed a difficult and distressing situation. From what you write, it seems you care very deeply for this girl and that's wonderful. She for sure needs caring and comforting and smiles.
And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. The incident at the pool was not an isolated one.The father was most likely very frustrated from all the previous incidents, such as all the ones at gymnastics practice, and acted in a way that most likely was very embarrassing for her.
It's so difficult for parents of a child who's having a hard time adjusting to her life situation to see past the daily frustrations of the child's behavior. And to see that the child is hurting inside. Children of divorce so often are in this position. They are wounded inside from the disruption of their lives and the confusion of what love is. Adults are adults, they understand that they are divorcing the spouse not their child. But children are children: divorce for them is an upheaval of reality. It means that love is not what they thought it was: safety, warmth, comfort, security. Love is now something that can be taken away, withdrawn, turned into anger and hurt. They don't separate between spouses and themselves: they just know that love is no longer safe.
And they don't know how to deal with this inside. They don't have the control mechanisms of adults. And so often kids of divorce begin to act out. They can become withdrawn, defiant, oppositional, or just wild. They can give up on being good.
But most often, they have anxiety inside and they don't know how to deal with it and so they begin to act impulsively and in lots of disconnected ways. And it appears to adults as if the child is just being unreasonable.
Well, yes, she's being unreasonable. But it's most likely because she is wounded inside. And she needs help. And you're right, embarrassing her in front of her peers only makes her hurt inside even more. This is very sad.
The prescription that works the best is for a child therapist to help her learn tools to soothe herself and to deal with anxiety and hurt. And to help the parents in helping her. This is very important: a child therapist or psychologist can help the parents with tools for helping their child. Because the parents' role, especially in divorce, is to be nurturing and caring.
They must remember that a child who went through divorce and slowly became less and less self-controlled is a child that needs comforting, stability, and lots of reassurance. Let the therapist set the rules. The parents need to restore her faith in love and goodness.
I hope this is helpful. Perhaps you can show it to the father and he can read it in a calm moment and get her the counseling that can make such a difference.
Okay, I wish you the very best!
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