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How do I help my child deal with another child's negative feelings toward him?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

We have a standing playdate with my very best girlfriend once per week.  My sons are 6 and almost 5 and her kids are ds age 7 and dd age 3.  In the past I wished that our kids "clicked" better, but the age differences were in the way.  Now that our kids are really becoming closer in age their differences are far less apparent.  So, even though we have been hanging out for a few years, our kids have just in the past 6 months been able to play well.  They play pretty well together, but they don't miss each other when they're apart, if that makes sense.  Her older son has been know to be "wild" as in he frequently runs and screams through the house in a very playful manner, but it's a little out of control.  My older son is somewhat of a chameleon and will do whatever anyone else is doing and he is a ball of energy anyway, so he's all for being wild.  But again, lately it's been much calmer and playing Legos is much more common nowadays that run and flailing about.

 

So, tonight, we were all having a lovely time having dinner, doing a craft, playing legos, etc.  Towards the end of the evening, the boys were all getting a little bit physical, chasing each other and trying to hug each other while the other would try to escape, etc.  All of the sudden, the two boys come into the kitchen where my friend and I are.  I hear my older son say, "Are you Ok, S?  I'm sorry." My friend's boy shouts, "Get away from me, leave me alone!"  My ds's face went pale and I took him into the living room to see what happened.  My ds said they conked heads when playing.  My ds wasn't crying over his hurt head, but I could tell he was a little frightened by his friend's reaction and he said he wanted to go home.  I suggested we go and see how the friend was doing and just to apologize again and make sure he was alright.  My ds was very reluctant for fear of how the other boy would react, so I held his hand and walked him into the room and really said the words for him. I didn't want to just leave and let this be unresolved between the two of them. My ds dragged me by the hand and insisted that it was time to go because the friend was only begrudgingly acknowledging him because his mom was forcing him to. It was getting to be time for us to go anyway, so we did go and get shoes and coats and the other boy came out again and said goodbye.  We left...all on good terms, but my ds and his friend did not say goodbye to each other....it was obvious!

 

I don't want my ds to run away any time a friend has a bad feeling towards him (that's what I would tend to do in my childhood!).  I know he's only 6, and it's not a huge deal.  But I really want some advice on how to coach my son to not cower because of a friend's reaction.  I am not good at confrontation myself, so I honestly don't know what the sensible response would be.

 

 

post #2 of 8

I think that we parents, especially moms, try to impose an adult, and often very female, model of interaction on our little boys. We don't need to let them kill each other, but we do need to understand that they don't want or often need to talk things out, that their play is often very physical, that they do get hurt sometimes, and that their emotions are very strong and they need to be left alone to process those emotions.

 

That's why, from your description, I wasn't getting a "cowering"  feeling. I was actually getting the feeling that your son was behaving in a very appropriate way. It was an accident. Your friend's DS was upset because he was hurt and in pain. That's a mode that takes a few minutes to get out of. So a quick and sincere "sorry" and/or "Are you OK?" is enough, IMHO, at that point.

 

Basically, your DS said "sorry" and that was really all he could do. Forcing kids, especially little boys this age (maybe girls, but I only have a boy so I don't know how girls "work" with this stuff!) to try and talk out their feelings and "kiss and make up"  right in that moment just backfires.

 

What we've had to learn is that when DS is upset, we need to let him be upset/angry/frustrated for a while. Once the overwhelming intensity of the emotions have passed, we can talk about what happened further, if necessary. But often it's not necessary to talk further. He felt what he felt and now it's over. I'd let this go and not make it more than it is.

 

 

post #3 of 8

I don't think your son was cowering.

 

As the adult, I would have checked on him, asked if he was OK, asked to look at his bump, then left him to feel upset.  It's like when you hurt you toe on something, you feel very angry, and the last thing you want is to sit and chat with the person who "caused" it.  You want to walk around the house cussing under your breath for a few minutes, then you are fine.

 

Since your son was the guest, he felt bad and probably embarrassed.  But, not cowering.  I think his own instincts to put some space between them was probably good, and they will get over it and it will be forgotten immediately.

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks, I can see where you're coming from.  I guess the word cowering might have been too strong.  It was just the look of fear that came over him when his friend was so harsh towards him that alerted me to his feelings and the fact that he just wanted to GET OUT of there!  I completely understand his feelings, I just don't want to encourage him to run away from this friend and never want to play with him again because he's now afraid of his reaction.

post #5 of 8

This seems more like an accident than true negative feelings...I am sure they'll get over it and continue to be loosely gelled "friends" even if only through you and your friend.

 

My son has issues with kids being mean to him in school because he is from another country and unfortunately that country has a reputation for being arrogant and condescending. 

 

We have tried everything from ignoring them, walking away, trying to talk it out, and telling a grown up.  On Monday, he finally retaliated and punched a boy in the nose, made him bleed.  Apparently yesterday was a really good day at school and all the kids wanted to sit with him.

 

This is the difference between Boy world and Girl world, I guess.

post #6 of 8

It sounds to me like your son has a different reaction to pain than the other boy. Some people (wave.gif) when they're hurt get upset and lash out a bit. Others go off in a corner to lick their wounds. Others shake it off and move on. None is more "right" than the other, but if you aren't a "lash out" kind of person, I could see where you'd be freaked out by it. And it sounds like he was a little embarrassed too.

 

The other thing is that my kids had a hard time apologizing for accidents until they were about 8. For them, an apology meant they had actively set out to hurt someone. If it was an accident, it didn't require an apology. It took a year or two of explaining (from about 5-7) that we don't say "sorry" just when we're wrong, we also say it when we're sorry someone else is in pain or hurt by our actions (physically or socially). It took more maturity for them to understand the second kind of sorry.

 

It happened at the end of your visit. Everyone was tired. It was probably a good time to go. I wouldn't put too much meaning into it, however. Accidents happen. Kids get embarrassed. It's not a death knell for the friendship.

post #7 of 8

People have to take responsibility for their actions. But sometimes the best reaction is truly just to drop it. Your son did not want to be forced to apologize. And since you were not there to see the actual event, you don't know if your son was at fault, the other kid was at fault, neither was at fault, what conversation had already taken place between them.... And the other boy did not want to have to stand there and hear the apology, he wanted his own space. I think the kids had the best reaction - it was late, you should have just said good night and left. You adults tried to piece it together, in your own adult way, instead of a typical 6 and 7 yo way. Next time they may play together just fine. And you don't need to intervene, unless someone is truly hurt or in danger. I bet they can resolve it in their own way, themselves. Trust them, and they will do well. 

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grace and Granola View Post

Thanks, I can see where you're coming from.  I guess the word cowering might have been too strong.  It was just the look of fear that came over him when his friend was so harsh towards him that alerted me to his feelings and the fact that he just wanted to GET OUT of there!  I completely understand his feelings, I just don't want to encourage him to run away from this friend and never want to play with him again because he's now afraid of his reaction.



From what you've written in the OP, it doesn't sound like he's actually afraid of this kid. He was probably upset that he'd accidentally hurt this kid and a bit scared by the strong reaction the other kid had. But I think it will be forgotten by next week.

 

If there's more to this . .. . the kids just don't gell at all and that playing together is becoming increasingly fraught, maybe there's a way for you and your friend to meet up without the children along?

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