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Left Out Leads to Leaving Out...

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

This summer, my daughter was having a hard time with the other kids in the homeschool playgroup which we attend.  First, she didn't want to play unless the kids played her game.  At least I think that what was going on.  She would come to me and complain that no one wanted to play with her.  I explained over and over that she needed to join in with what everyone was playing if they weren't interested in playing her game.  (She is a few years younger than the others - 5 to their 7 or 8.)  Eventually she seemed to get the idea and things went well for awhile. 

 

Then, at her 5th birthday party the other kids formed a group which she was excluded from.  They said it was because she was being annoying, which to me, it looked like she was.  Us parents tried to help the kids work it out, but the party ended and it was never resolved.  Fast forward to the next time we're at the park.  Beforehand I tried to help prepare my daughter to be a good friend, sharing treats, not being overbearing about her games, being calm, mature, all the things which are really difficult for her.  She was ready.  Two kids, one of them who was her best friend before, (everyone else was gone) excluded my daughter in a rather cruel way, moving away from her if she tried to sit near them, ignoring her if she offered them a strawberry, shaking off her hand if she tried to hold hands.  We left the park day early and I explained that the kids weren't acting like good friends, so we were going to go be with people who were kind (which ended up being just ourselves at the ice cream parlor).  We took a break for several months from these kiddos after this incident, and the other parents did try to work with their kids about being a kind friend, etc.  (I don't know the details).

 

Anyway, we joined the group again and everyone was doing well playing at the park - having fun, playing games that everyone enjoyed.  But then it started again.  The two kiddos from before (with my daughter tagging along) started leaving out my older son (age 7).  He asked what they were playing over and over and they pretended that they couldn't hear him.  I stepped in and told my daughter to include my son in the game.  She did, and then the other kids just took off on their own.  Ergh.

 

Then last week at the park, my daughter was playing with one of the two kiddos on her own, and another new younger child (maybe about age 3) came up and I thought that they were all playing together.  As we drove home  my daughter told me that the new little child was being "annoying" and how they were trying to get away from him.  This is not how I want my child to act (obviously).  I did a lot of explaining about why this was wrong and unkind, etc.  but I really don't know how much this will sink in.  It seems clear that she is learning this behaviour from the other kids who treated her in this way - normally she would never be like that - she loves playing with anyone.   

 

I don't know what to do.  I honestly like all the families in this group.  They are dear friends to me and their kids are sometimes wonderful - creative, fun, sweet.  It's just this one dynamic - leaving people out - which I would like to nip in the bud.  Any thoughts?

post #2 of 7

Oh boy, if you're talking about 7-8yo girls then you're dealing with something v. common for the age.  I have a 7yo dd and her best friend is a 9yo boy, and while they're actually pretty good for the most part they do sometimes "gang up" on ds (exclude him, or mock him, etc).  I have very firmly let them know that this behaviour is Not Ok, and will not be tolerated in our home.  It is Against The Rules.

 

It seems a little harder to deal with in a park situation, where really it is not "house rules". It sounds like you have a great group of friends and at least the other parents are proactive in dealing with their own children.  But I imagine it is something they will have to continue to work on over the next couple of years.

 

As for your dd I think the best you can do is let your expectations be crystal clear. 

 

I think it's important to be kind and polite in our dealings with other people.  At the same time I do think it's legitimate for a kid to not want to play with another kid.  Now a whole group excluding one just seems like an icky dynamic to me.  But it's food for thought really.  How to be kind, put up with people who aren't your favourites, but at the same time stand up for yourself and put down your own boundaries.  How far should we go in dictating who our kids play with?  What exactly should we expect?  What do we expect of ourselves?  As I said, food for thought...

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your thoughtful reply pianojazzgirl. 

 

We went to the park yesterday, and we had a good talk on the way there about how to include people who looked like they might be feeling left out.  I'm not sure if my daughter internalized it or not, but my son definitely did.  He made two new friends who were on the outskirts of things. 

 

Anyway, I've been thinking about what you asked - what are the expectations for kids and grownups dealing with people they don't like very well.  I think this is where I come down on the issue: when it is a group situation, like homeschool park day, it seems to me like it is rude for people to pair off and exclude the other members.  I don't think the parents would feel comfortable doing that - we all try to get to know each other and talk to each other, even if we don't end up being best friends.  If people want to get together with one another in smaller groups, then we arrange it privately and meet at a different time.  But certain times are group times, and we all have to make an effort to create an inclusive group dynamic.

 

 

   

post #4 of 7

Could you talk to the other parents about it and try to form some rules for behavior at group events?

post #5 of 7

Although I think it can be cruel to see other kids leaving someone out if they want to play, I also don't think all the kids have to play together, KWIM?  I personally think that while 5 y/os and 7/8 y/os could play together I can also see why they might not want to b/c sometimes 5 y/os can be impatient and wanting things to only go their way(not saying older kids won't be that way, but a couple years makes a difference there).  I also don't necessarily see anything wrong with siblings not wanting to play together at the park and I understand not wanting to play w/ a 3 y/o when you're age 5+.  Perhaps instead of trying to force them to play together, let them group and if things get to the meaner side (say namecalling or teasing) then start a group activity that everyone can play(thinking hide and seek, tag) to just distract people for a bit.  You could also engage in discussion with all the kids about some ways to deal with being excluded(starting your own game, finding another person to play with) and make sure all the parents are on board.

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

I agree; I don't think all of the kids should have to play together, but if a child asks to join a group and play with them, I think that the other kids shouldn't exclude or ignore the kid who is asking, regardless of how old the child is or whether the child is a sibling.  To me, that is just bad manners and cliquey.  This is what I have seen happening.  Yes, people do need to learn how to deal with being excluded, but I feel like we need to deal with helping the kids learn how not to form exclusive cliques. 

 

On the other hand, I see what you're saying about not forcing people to play together though.  It's kind of hard to figure out what a parent's role is in working out child dynamics like these. 

 

I like your ideas of having more organized group activities like hide and seek.  I think that would work well to help the kids be kinder to each other, and also to engage all the parents.

 

Update:  This week at the park was awesome.  From what I saw, the kids were all kind to each other.  I saw one of the kids who was so unkind to my daughter before give her a hug and soothe her when my daughter was upset about leaving.     

post #7 of 7


Learning to be a good friend is just that.  Learning.  The more we remind them that excluding is hurtful the better.  Sounds like the other parents were on the same page.  I still run into parents who seem oblivious or think it's perfectly fine to groom their child to possibly be they way they were.  I get left out a lot with other moms.  It has a lot to do with my attitude though.  I don't notice I'm being left out either until it's obvious.  I generally don't do well with other women though.  I have nothing in common with them for the most part.  I'm not a gossiper so I'm probably not that fun to be around.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dovey View Post

I agree; I don't think all of the kids should have to play together, but if a child asks to join a group and play with them, I think that the other kids shouldn't exclude or ignore the kid who is asking, regardless of how old the child is or whether the child is a sibling.  To me, that is just bad manners and cliquey.  This is what I have seen happening.  Yes, people do need to learn how to deal with being excluded, but I feel like we need to deal with helping the kids learn how not to form exclusive cliques. 

 

On the other hand, I see what you're saying about not forcing people to play together though.  It's kind of hard to figure out what a parent's role is in working out child dynamics like these. 

 

I like your ideas of having more organized group activities like hide and seek.  I think that would work well to help the kids be kinder to each other, and also to engage all the parents.

 

Update:  This week at the park was awesome.  From what I saw, the kids were all kind to each other.  I saw one of the kids who was so unkind to my daughter before give her a hug and soothe her when my daughter was upset about leaving.     



 

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