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I'm trying to let this be okay, but how?

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Okay so I have so many issues with this one friend of my daughters, she is just 6, that I can't see clearly on any front when this child is concerned.

My question is just about 'things'. My dd has many things, toys, jewelry, books, puzzles, trinkets, baby play items, beauty play items, purses, etc. She is an only child.

My dd has a best friend we'll call Mary. They are truely connected and love each other very much. They have been in preschool together for 2 years. We see them occasionally outside of school at different events and have occasional playdates.

The problem is that whenever this child comes to our house she has to collect all of the little trinkets and such and put them in bags and carry them around... to play. Mary is not allowed many things at all. She is made to give away gifts she receives and is only allowed certain toys and books and dress up, etc.

So my issue is that I have tried to set boundaries with my dd and this child. Like you may not load every toy in every bag and then unload them in the backyard. Or you may not play with the things your 'treasure drawer' when your friend comes over. This has been unsuccessful as I have just found 4 bags loaded with all kinds of things in the backyard from yesterday's playdate. I asked my dd about it and she said she decided that it would be okay for Mary to do that even though she and I together had made the boundaries. Her consequence is that she had to unload the bags and put it all away.

This seems totally reasonable to me and I don't know why it infuriates me so much to have this loading and unloading of things happening. Does anyone have any insight?

I know that some solutions would be to have playdates at the park etc... but my dd really wants to play here as we have a really nice set up for her and her friends... and a really nice choice backyard. It is complicated too because now my dd and Mary are going to different schools and we will only see them at playdates.

I just find it hard that my dd has me venting and being stern at her when it is not her behavior that I am actually angry at. I know that she 'let' her friend load all of the things up and take them from her room, but it is incredibly difficult for her to 'stand up' to her friend and say no. At 6 should she be able to do this? or is that unreasonable? And what do I do now at our next playdate? (We only have a handful a year and I am already anxiety ridden about the next one)

I hate that I may have to look over her shoulder when they are playing... she hates that. and quite frankly I do too.
post #2 of 31
I think you need to figure out why it bugs you so much.

I have a child who does this, she puts books, toys, etc and carries them around the house. Honestly the more I let it bug me, the more she does it.

They are 6, if it's not bugging your DD and it is her stuff, maybe you should let it go, if you can't maybe playdates at your house are not a good idea.

Sounds harmless to me.
post #3 of 31
I've read your post a couple of times and I do have a whopper of a cold, I don't understand why this is a problem?

DS1 (4) is having one of his bestest friends (6) come over for a visit this weekend. They grab a kiddie suitcase, load it up with half a tonne of stuff and go hide out "camping" in our closet. We just make them clean it up after the play date, because the only issue for us is the mess. He shares everything with her, but when other friends come to visit and he has items he doesn't want to share, we put it in a bin and I put it out of reach and out of sight.

Your DD seems alright with it and if she wants to stash some toys away, you can do that with her before a play date and there won't be an issue. If she doesn't like it, you can work with her on some ways of saying no, although I've found kids at that age are pretty good at establishing their boundaries with their friends.
post #4 of 31
I think you need to do some thinking about why this bothers you. Lots of kids do this, not just ones that are in Mary's situation with gifts and toys. My stepsisters and I used to pack up every My Little Pony and Rainbow Brite toy in the house and drag them out into the backyard. We had to put them all back when we were done, that's all.

My rule would be that they have to put anything they play with back where they got it before Mary goes home, just like any other playdate. If your DD has toys she really doesn't want Mary playing with, you can put them somewhere off-limits or impossible for the girls to reach before Mary comes over.
post #5 of 31
The child is not stealing from you... merely re-locating toys? I don't see the issue then.
post #6 of 31
I've got another one who loves to put toys in ziplock bags all. the. time. And he doesn't have any of the toy restrictions Mary does.

I know it gets tiring to clean it up, and I'm all for the 'if you make a mess, you clean it up' philosophy with my own kids, but I think since the playdates are infrequent, in this case I'd suck it up and clean up after Mary.
post #7 of 31
I'm also not sure exactly what infuriates you. Simply moving toys around doesn't seem to be egregious behaviour, but perhaps special things are getting lost or damaged or Mary is particularly bossy or manipulative? What really bothers you?

Is it because they are breaking your rules?
Is it the mess and they won't clean up?
Are you worried that your dd's belongings will be damaged or lost?
Is it Mary's attitude? Is she bossy or rude or manipulative?

If you are angry because they are defiant and breaking a rule (don't load up stuff and move it), I'd re-assess whether that rule is arbitrary, fair, or necessary. Can you adjust the rule? They can only move things from one or two shelves or baskets. They must put everything back before they move on to a new game and definitely before Mary leaves. They can't take things outside. Whatever modifications you can all agree on.

If you are angry because you want your dd to stand up for herself, you can try role-playing with her. Let her practice saying no. You'll also probably have to monitor the playdates fairly closely at first, so you can intervene and help coach your dd when she needs a little support handling Mary. Don't step in and take over, but give your dd some support and some hints if she needs to figure out when to say no or to distract Mary with another game.

If you don't like Mary's attitude, and this is just an example of bad behaviour, I'd establish your rules at the start of the playdate and let Mary know that if she can't follow the rules, the playdate will have to end. Then, if she breaks the rules, send her home. Tell her that you're sorry she's having trouble following house rules this day, but maybe next time everyone will have a happier time following the rules.
post #8 of 31
Well, for a differing perspective - my mom has a tendency to do this (no, not with our toys - just with general household stuff that she moves all over the house when she visits). It bugs me generally because I don't like not knowing where things are and I don't like having to do over a certain amount of picking up after someone else than usual. Other visitors (like my sisters) may use things from around the house and are more likely to either put them back where they were or just leave them in one, mutually agreed upon, centrally located place (from which I put them away).

I'd guess that this girl's behavior irritates you out of one of these reasons - you like things organized a particular way and it just feels like a lot of extra work to clean up after this kind of play. I think making sure your dd does a lot of the extra clean up (which she likely doesn't mind if she likes having this friend over) is fine. Is she irritated too about her things?
Maybe keeping a bucket or something they both can corral things into when they're done that's outside would help too - just put it back in your dd's room and you or/and she deal with it over the next few days. It could be a step toward actually putting everything away.
post #9 of 31
I wouldfocus on putting away anything you absolutely don't want to be carried around *before* the little girl comes over and also on having the girls clean up the messes they make at the end of playtime. You will need to warn them at the start of the next playdate that they will have to do this, give them a 5 minute warning before cleanup time, and supervise the cleanup closely at first.

This sounds like totally normal play to me.

I know that every list of toys a preschool or daycare should have has something like "an assortment of bags, briefcases, purses and knapsacks" for the dramatic play center. The expectation is that children *will* load them up with blocks, toy food, and any other small items and carry them around the center.

Besides dramatic play, I think it satisfies a pre-math need, this urge to collect lots of objects in bags. I think children learn something about quantities, counting, sorting, and object permanence.

ETA -- I think it is up to *you,* not your daughter, to set the ground rules with friends for playdates at that age. I think that it is reasonable to expect her to follow rules but not to enforce them on others.
post #10 of 31
We have a house rule that kids aren't allowed to get out anything they're not willing to clean up, unless they ask me first.

So if they want to do a messy art project or something, they can ask and I'll help them get the stuff out and I'll help them clean up, but if they just want to take everything off the shelves in DS's room, they're welcome to as long as they understand that they'll be responsible for cleaning it up when they're done.

Would a similar rule help out at your house?
post #11 of 31
I'm with the others - I don't really see the harm in this and I don't understand why it bugs you so much. My 5yo DD does this all the time - they load up suitcases, bags, trays, containers, etc and carry them from place to place. My only rule is that it all has to be put back in the correct place.
post #12 of 31
If it doesn't bother your dd then I would let it go and allow her to do it as long as she is also willing to clean up at the end of the playdate. We have a clean up time about fifteen minutes before kids leave to go home at our house.
post #13 of 31
Here most things are allowed outside, as long as the kids understand that a) if it is special, you might wanna rethink it because it might get lost/dirty, b) it still might get lost, probably will get dirty (we live on a farm), might get chicken, rabbit, goat, quail, or guinea poop on it, and c) if you leave it out, chances are high that Mom will run over it w/the lawn tractor and if you mess up Mom's mower because you left the toy out, you must pay for Dad to repair it. If you don't have the money to pay, that's ok too because we have lots of aforementioned poop to clean up.

Totally normal behavior. Totally. Things collected here are: legos, littlest pet shop toys, various cooking items (ok, so I've gotten ticked about that one before, lol), water play toys, and instruments. We regularly have 4 other kids over (nearly every day), and when they are here, they are expected to bring items in that they haul outside. They also understand the get dirty/lost/run over stuff and alot of the toys they haul outside are theirs, lol.
post #14 of 31
I've read your post several times, and I am having trouble seeing the issue except that Mary left and both girls failed to pick up all the toys & trinkets before the playdate was over.

Perhaps like the other PPs have suggested, just having a rule that all items are picked up & returned to their original spots before playtime is over is needed?
post #15 of 31
Add me to the "Let it go" list.

My dd is 6 and loves to pack up things and tote them around. She'll pack suitcases and pretend to go places. Lunchbags. Backpacks. They're all part of an elaborate game that she has going on in her mind, and those props are crucial.

If things are getting broken, then put away the things you want to keep safe. If things are left out, spend 20 minutes before the playdate is over putting things away with both girls.

For perspective: Last summer, the kids in the neighborhood liked to set up a "mall". At our house. In our front yard. With every toy we owned. After 2-3 times of being left with a huge mess to clean up, our kids decided it wasn't that great a game.
post #16 of 31
I am another mama who is having trouble seeing the problem with this. I wonder if you could let go trying to control how they play (or how "Mary" plays), and instead make a firm rule that 15 mins before the end of the playdate you start "clean up time", and by the end of that time they're responsible for having put all of the toys back in their proper places.
post #17 of 31
Hm. I agree that you need to find out why it bugs you and let it go.

However, because I'm unwinding on the net, let me have a go.

Perhaps it bothers you that you feel Mary is being wronged by her parents who deny her toys? And the hoarding of toys / dragging around of toys seems to you a symptom of the problem inherent in denying a child many toys that she likes? So you are sorry for her but there's really nothing you can do about how her parents provide entertainment for her, and this is a source of frustration?

I can see that because except in really awful cases (I'm thinking like, a horrible age-inappropriate movie with violence or something) I would never take a gift away from my child*. So when you wrote that I was fairly surprised. That would bug me.

So perhaps this bugs you to this extent because of how you feel about Mary's situation, more than how you feel about the toys.

Just a thought. Obviously I only have a bit of information to work with here. LOL

*Asking a child to clean out her closet before she gets new things, I think, is probably not what the OP is talking about.
post #18 of 31
Another vote for "I'm confused?"

What bothers you? My dd is only 2, but she loves putting things in bags and carrying them around. Do you feel there's something inherently wrong with this? Why does it bother you? Is it the clean up? You could have the girls put everything away before Mary went home. If this kind of play dosen't bother your DD, then I'd let it go unless there's some other problem.

Also I don't think it's your daughter's job to enforce your house rules with her friend. She should be able to say, "We're not allowed to do X." but if the friend keeps insisting then I think it's reasonable for her to need backup from you.
post #19 of 31
Haha my dd does this too. She had her purse with her at church the other day and I thought "hmm, maybe she has some chapstick in there. I could really use some and orange crush will do". I found four large landscaping rocks, a wallet full of something...I forget what but not money, several dolls, toys trinkets, seriously this thing was like mary poppins bag. And she has countless boxes, purses, bags, totes ect all stuffed full of stuff she has gathered up. Then someone else was talking about their six year olds stash (hers was under her pillow). I really think this is what 5, 6, 7 year old giorls do instinctively somehow.

But it bugs you and that is fine that you have rules and whatnot for your own home.

However. your dd is little bitty. It is not her issue and not her rule and not fair that she has to be the one to explain or enforce such a rule. if you have rules and boundries for mary you need to explain them to her and be ready to enforce consequences.

I think a better option than ending this (since both girls seem to enjoy this play) is simply to make sure that everything gets brought in and put away before the end of the play date.

I used to hate it whenthe neighbor kids would drag all our littlest pet shops or barbies or ponies or polly pockets outside. but I finally embraced it and made sire that they stayed on a blanket in the yard (contain the mess) and that everything got put away by the end of the playdate. and they were generally limited to what they could carry in one trip. This really worked well and everyone was able to have fun. outside. where I could not hear them

ps. there was no chapstick in the purse. when it came time for offering she wanted her money to put in the basket. We had to go through all of that to get to the single penny she had way deep in the bottom.of course everyone was watching and waiting. what a goof ball. However when it is all said and done I hope she has one purse full of misc crap that I can sneak away and cherish her silliness with this forever. I love her "collections".
post #20 of 31
The problem is the volume of little toys that were sorted for convenient playing by Raven's dd. Instead of several bins of easy to find toys, there are bags of random stuff sitting out in the lawn.

So what I'd do, is put the bins away in my closet. Have your dd pick one type of small toy to have out to play with Mary. Maybe one week they explore jewelry, another week they enjoy seashells. Mary can still have the fun of pretending to go shopping and "keep" everything, or whatever is motivating the behavior, but you only have to grab the bags and pour them back into one container.

I'd also put away any bags that are too small to see easily out in the yard or are colored to be camouflaged by the grass.

Also, talk with your dd about games she'd like to try. Offer her some suggestions, get her feedback, and start the girls off on a game when Mary first shows up.

Oh, and you do have outdoor toys, yes? So getting them started off right away with the outdoor toys could minimize the migration from indoors to outdoors trailing half your house behind them.
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