How do you handle playdates when your child is being bratty? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 22 Old 03-24-2010, 06:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD, almost five, is imaginative and outgoing and a ton of fun...but she's also bossy, grabby, and whiny if her friends don't do things her way. Our next door neighbors have a daughter 6 months older, and they play together 3 or so afternoons a week--in general, it seems like they have a blast.

When they play here, DD seems so bossy and whiny to me that it makes me nuts. I don't know if I am over-reacting, because she is my only, but her friend is very mellow, and DD is very alpha. I don't want to helicopter parent, but I find myself interupting their play all the time to tell her to share, to act nicely, to stop pouting, to let the neighbor be the girl character at least once...etc. My gut is that I'm not handling this right! I'm her parent, so I want to make sure she is behaving nicely and being a good friend, but at five, should I step back a bit and just trust that the neighbor will pipe up if she's not having fun?

I am pretty sure when they play at the neighbors house the mom is much laid back--they have four kids, a big playroom in the basement, two older daughter who supervise a lot.
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#2 of 22 Old 03-24-2010, 06:27 PM
 
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Maybe you can talk to her before the play dates about playing and the importance of sharing and doing what the guest wants. We usually have a chit chat with our 4 year old before play dates or parties we host that it is important that no one is left out and he should be a good host to his friends, share and play some of their games as well as his own.

It's tough to balance, because you don't want to interfere too much and just let the kids work it out on their own, but if you see this pattern developing which can negatively affect your child, you want to step in. I think though, it might be better to be proactive and just step back a little during the play date unless you feel that you have to remind her a couple times of your chat.

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#3 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 12:09 AM
 
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I would leave them alone unless you can hear that the neighbour is starting to get upset / frustrated / grumpy etc and then step in and remind your daughter about playing nicely and sharing.

I kind of feel like if the other girl doesn't have a problem, just leave it. Your daughter will come up against another alpha one day and then you'll proabably need to do more mediating.

Oh, and obviously if your daughter were being mean then step in but if it's just that she likes to be the 'boss' of the game and the other girl is happy I'd just leave them to it. It could be that the other girl *likes* that your daughter takes charge and that she can follow along.

It's complicated.
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#4 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 12:19 AM
 
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Typically, I have a hands-off philosophy. But, your DD's situation resonates with me and my childhood "friend"ships. I was the neighbor child - quite, never spoke up - and my neighborhood friend bossed me around. (Maybe because she was the youngest of 6 girls - she knew how to boss!) My memories of playing with her (35 years ago) are dominated by situations where she was telling me what to do. I rarely challenged her. I don't know if I wished then that someone would have stepped in. (My mother, most likely, as when I was at her house, there were just so many girls around, and the older ones were sweet to me because I was so little.) So, from those experiences, all occurring between ages 3-6, I would intervene if I were you, perhaps pre-empting the behavior when possible.

And, in another childhood friendship I recall, I LOVED going over to my friend Holly's house. At Holly's house, guests were treated with a particular status. Not over-the-top, the-guest-is-princess-of-the-day, but in a way that the whole family (4 girls) knew and acknowledged, that the guest came first and was treated as someone important and valuable. I loved that about Holly's household. I always felt so comfortable and welcome there, like they really cared about me. I felt protected while I was there.

I don't know, I'm rambling. But your post brought forth memories for me.

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#5 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 12:30 AM
 
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DD is 5, and has a close friend who was very bossy, controlling, and grabby. Her parents did intervene quite a bit; it took about half a year, and now she is a fantastic playmate and friend to DD. She's truly a pleasure to be around.

I'm in favor of gentle intervention and prompting for friendship skills rather than letting them flounder or work it out on their own. It seems to work out better for everyone.
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#6 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 04:17 AM
 
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DD is 5, and has a close friend who was very bossy, controlling, and grabby. Her parents did intervene quite a bit; it took about half a year, and now she is a fantastic playmate and friend to DD. She's truly a pleasure to be around.

I'm in favor of gentle intervention and prompting for friendship skills rather than letting them flounder or work it out on their own. It seems to work out better for everyone.
Another in favour of some gentle intervention. I, too, have memories of playing with the neighbourhood alpha girl when I was about that age. Everyone thought we were best friends. In fact, we called each other best friends. We seemed to play well together. I didn't protest or make a fuss, but I actually resented her bossy, controlling play and the unfairness of never getting to make choices. The friendship didn't last once I had the opportunity to make other, more amenable and generous, friends - I was outta there. Maybe I would have stuck around if some adults had coached both of us - her to be less bossy and me to stick up for myself.

I see this as a learning opportunity, before she has some unhappy experiences with other children. If she doesn't respond to some guidance on being a good friend, then that's fine - sooner or later she'll learn the hard way from other alpha children. But at least you'll have tried.
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#7 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 06:35 AM
 
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Another in favour of some gentle intervention. I, too, have memories of playing with the neighbourhood alpha girl when I was about that age. Everyone thought we were best friends. In fact, we called each other best friends. We seemed to play well together. I didn't protest or make a fuss, but I actually resented her bossy, controlling play and the unfairness of never getting to make choices. The friendship didn't last once I had the opportunity to make other, more amenable and generous, friends - I was outta there. Maybe I would have stuck around if some adults had coached both of us - her to be less bossy and me to stick up for myself.

I see this as a learning opportunity, before she has some unhappy experiences with other children. If she doesn't respond to some guidance on being a good friend, then that's fine - sooner or later she'll learn the hard way from other alpha children. But at least you'll have tried.
My initial reaction to the OP was "let them sort it out" until I read this post.

My older sister was the alpha-wannabe. She had a horrible time making and keeping friends as a child, so much so that she moved away from home as soon as she could and won't ever consider going back (even though it's a HUGE metropolitan area and she wouldn't be in contact with many, if any, people still left). It never occurred to me that this might have been her problem. But of course, it is!

We are not close. Mostly b/c she was so bossy to me and couldn't let me be me. I love her, but we're not close. Even now, when we talk, she wants to give me advice on every little thing I mention, even if I'm not asking for help. It's annoying as @#$%.

She has some friends, but as of now I have no idea who any of them are. She's in her 40s and not married, no dates that I know of, and has only been in one or two relationships in her adult life. Probably b/c she can't get past the need to control everyone else. If things aren't perfect, she can't deal.

Not saying your DD will be like this, but thinking about how bossy my sister was as a kid makes me wonder if she'd be happier/things would be different now if my parents had stepped in and tried to teach her a more hands-off way to interact with others.
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#8 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 11:24 AM
 
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I am also in the gentle intervention column. When children like your daughter come over to our house my pretty passive children don't put up a fuss so an observer might thing they are fine with it. But, they rarely want to keep the friendship going. Building friendships is a learned skill for most kids, so why not help her ... I don't think that is helicopter parenting. Practice playing 'friends' with her and provide some guidelines and consequences before playdates. If she doens't learn to play gracefully she might find herself with fewer invitations in the long run. Good luck!
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#9 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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...But, they rarely want to keep the friendship going. Building friendships is a learned skill for most kids, so why not help her ...
Yup, that's my immediate fear, that she's going to lose a friendship that's really important to her.

It's tough, because a lot of it just her personality. She is funny and creative and enthusiastic...but she's also very strong-willed and focused on what she wants. Any thoughts on how you teach a five year old to learn to go with the flow, and bend more? Whatever I've been saying hasn't really worked so far.

Mostly, I just say "You need to share or let XYZ do whatever." I have told her that I worry that XYZ isn't going to want to come back if she doesn't play nicely. Any ideas about what would be a better way to handle?
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#10 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 12:12 PM
 
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I am a laid back mother of 4, and my oldest is very quiet and is often bossed around, usually by little girls. Honestly, he loves it, as long as it's not over the top. Most of his best friends have been "bossy" little girls who like to tell him what to do, but they are always very kind to him as well. We have had a few kids that were over the top, and I made sure that I was always around when they were to help my ds stand up for himself, and we stopped seeing them after a while because my ds told me he didn't want to play with them or once I decided we wouldn't see them anymore because the little boy was older and my ds really looked up to him and didn't care how he treated him. So I am a fan of gentle intervention when necessary (and I am happy to intervene whether it is my child or not) but I would say that if the kids play often and have for a while it's probably not an issue for the other child or her parents so I wouldn't worry about it too much.

I know I have a few friends (with either only one child or a very large age gap between 2 children) who frequently interrupt play time to tell their child to play nice, share, etc. It seems like it's easier for kids who have siblings close in age because they are used to having someone else want to play with their stuff all of the time, where as an only child or a 4yo with a 12yo brother can often just play with what they want for an unlimited amount of time without someone else wanting to play with the same thing.
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#11 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 01:24 PM
 
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Personally I would (and I tend to - unless theres a danger factor or someone is getting rather very upset) stay out of it. For me, its a social skill my son needs to learn. This may mean he fumbles along the way. We all do. If he is being bossy and not sharing, he will have an unhappy friend who doesn't want to play with him! Facts of life we all must learn! lol At this age, they are honesty not going to lose a friend for life! I remember even at the age of 10 going through spouts of 'shes not my friend anymore' - the next day we couldn't be any closer!!! lmao If you feel you need to talk about it once the friend is gone, then I think that is the most appropriate time - but not whilst they are there. Hovering about them telling them how to 'play' (essentially), tells them you don't trust them and can just add to their lack of confidence and social building skills in the moment. My sons confidence and social skills are amazing when I am not acutually in the room with him and his friends.

Of course - we do have to take in our childrens personalities as well. Take yourself for example. What kinda friends do you have? They tend to be friends that flow well with who you are as a person right - compliment your likes/dislikes/personality/etc? You don't just make friends with anyone do you? - I mean, not everyone is your friend right? You don't force a relationship to work (I mean unless you have to - like at work for example...but our adult world is slightly more complicated lol). You can't do that with your children either (even if it is conveinient for you! lol). I know my son pretty well now and work harder at helping him make friends with other children whos personalities will compliment his - rather than just any old child his age...cause it doesn't always work out that way! hehe

Though of course at this age, there could be an underlying thing there. I find if my son is being that way (despite it is perfectly normal for the age!) - then it is usually because he would actually rather be alone. After about an hour of having a friend round, he is usually quite spent. It is also very different in our own home than when we are in someone elses!

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#12 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 02:56 PM
 
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Any thoughts on how you teach a five year old to learn to go with the flow, and bend more? Whatever I've been saying hasn't really worked so far.

Mostly, I just say "You need to share or let XYZ do whatever." I have told her that I worry that XYZ isn't going to want to come back if she doesn't play nicely. Any ideas about what would be a better way to handle?
Usually I encourage children to negotiate and decide things for themselves. In this situation, I might try inserting some mechanisms to balance things out a little for awhile. For example, a random coin toss or roll of a die to decide what games to play or who gets to be the leader - heads or even numbers gets to choose first. Then they can take turns on making decisions. That way, no one feels like they are being favoured. Of course, if you're against gambling, this isn't a great idea!

As someone else mentioned, being a good host means taking care of your guests. So if the other child is a guest in your home on a playdate, s/he can be asked if she would like to choose first.

Role-playing, gentle reminders and re-inforcing can help over time.

Your dd sounds like a wonderful girl with lots of personality. I'm sure she's a lot of fun to be around, so I'll bet other children enjoy playing with her. It's just a matter of helping her learn a little bit of social skills to make sure everyone is having a good time.
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#13 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 03:35 PM
 
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Your dd sounds a lot like my dd!

What about asking your friend to have a chat with her dd to get her perspective on their friendship. It could be that the little girl harbours bad feelings (like some posters here), or that she is totally fine with their dynamic. This might give you an idea of how to approach the subject.

And whether you decide to continue to intervene or not, I would still consistently engage your dd in conversations about how we should treat people and how we like to be treated. You could even try role-playing at home.

Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#14 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 03:54 PM
 
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Personally I would (and I tend to - unless theres a danger factor or someone is getting rather very upset) stay out of it. For me, its a social skill my son needs to learn. This may mean he fumbles along the way. We all do. If he is being bossy and not sharing, he will have an unhappy friend who doesn't want to play with him! Facts of life we all must learn! lol At this age, they are honesty not going to lose a friend for life! I remember even at the age of 10 going through spouts of 'shes not my friend anymore' - the next day we couldn't be any closer!!! lmao If you feel you need to talk about it once the friend is gone, then I think that is the most appropriate time - but not whilst they are there. Hovering about them telling them how to 'play' (essentially), tells them you don't trust them and can just add to their lack of confidence and social building skills in the moment. My sons confidence and social skills are amazing when I am not acutually in the room with him and his friends.

Of course - we do have to take in our childrens personalities as well. Take yourself for example. What kinda friends do you have? They tend to be friends that flow well with who you are as a person right - compliment your likes/dislikes/personality/etc? You don't just make friends with anyone do you? - I mean, not everyone is your friend right? You don't force a relationship to work (I mean unless you have to - like at work for example...but our adult world is slightly more complicated lol). You can't do that with your children either (even if it is conveinient for you! lol). I know my son pretty well now and work harder at helping him make friends with other children whos personalities will compliment his - rather than just any old child his age...cause it doesn't always work out that way! hehe

Though of course at this age, there could be an underlying thing there. I find if my son is being that way (despite it is perfectly normal for the age!) - then it is usually because he would actually rather be alone. After about an hour of having a friend round, he is usually quite spent. It is also very different in our own home than when we are in someone elses!
I agree with all of this.

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#15 of 22 Old 03-25-2010, 08:21 PM
 
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how to teach them. I am a firm believe that many children need to be actively instructed on social interaction. They are not going to learn this from interacting with other children as equally clueless as they are. So maybe when friend comes over you could emphasize that today friend gets to be the special guest. "friend what would you like to play?" and once a game or activity is decided let friend go first. let friend decide who will be the mom and who will be the kid if they are playing house. if they are being imaginative (role playing etc) each person gets to decide what their character does (no "ok now you say/do this...." this is a pet peeve of mine. I am not saying you have to ban it all together because clearly some kids do not mind this sort of guilding but for this day it is important that your dd let her friend think and play for herself). I would do this occaisionally and if friend is coming over remind her of how we treat a guest in our home, what are rules for playing nice et cand what the consequences for not playing nicely are. (if my bossy child, one is particularly bossy) starts acting that way i usually end the play date.

Being bossy or "alpha" as someone said ios not tolerated in our house. i do not see any positive in but see it as a sign of pride, arrogance, self importance, and control freak sort of behaviors. So friends, sisters etc not allowed. but i also know it is natrual and something that has to be gently but consistantly weeded out and replaced with love, humility, and putting others first. We usually approach it from a positive angle. How can we show love to our friends? how can we make them feel important and special? What can you do to make sure your friend has the best time ever?

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#16 of 22 Old 03-26-2010, 01:19 AM
 
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I would have conversation before the playdate about how to treat people respectfully and come up with scenarios and ask your Dd the best way to handle them. Coach on her on the whys and the hows and then during the playdate if you hear something "not quite right" you could just say, "remember what we talked about?"
I don't think kids learn the fine art of socializing by themselves in another room playing. sure I guess they could learn the hard way that if you are too bossy you will lose a friend but why not teach them the right way first?
I actually dislike the idea very much abut kids teaching kids how to behave. I think adults should teach kids and help them when they go astray.
My kids learned the "Than I'm not going to play with you anymore" line from a neighbor kid. I am trying to teach my kids that threatening a friendship is unnecessary and trying to teach them what to say/ do instead of threats.

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#17 of 22 Old 03-26-2010, 05:31 PM
 
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Honestly, when my kid or my friend's kid is being super bossy or bratty I yell out "Hey quit being so bossy!" Maybe not the best approach but it seems to work.

Mother of 3, welcomed a new baby girl July 2011

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#18 of 22 Old 03-26-2010, 06:52 PM
 
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I think you need to talk to her outside the playdates, and then step back. Maybe also find her some more assertive kids to play with so you know they'll respond appropriately to her bossiness?
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#19 of 22 Old 03-26-2010, 10:10 PM
 
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Honestly, when my kid or my friend's kid is being super bossy or bratty I yell out "Hey quit being so bossy!" Maybe not the best approach but it seems to work.
I have been known to take that approach as well. I honestly find direct and to the point to be the most effective least confusing teaching tool.

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#20 of 22 Old 03-27-2010, 03:07 PM
 
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Moved to The Childhood Years

 

 

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#21 of 22 Old 03-29-2010, 02:39 AM
 
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I think the most effective is to USE the real situations. At some point the other girl is going to take some sort of a stand or make some sort of a protest. I'd use that as an opportunity to discuss how the other girl might feel and ask your daughter for suggestions as to how to handle it next time. Saying "Don't be bossy!" is actually quite abstract. What is bossy? What is the difference between bossy and being the creative leader? How is a child to know? But when the other child gives some indication that she is not happy, it is an actual situation that your child will see and sense and it is a good time to talk about seeing others perspectives and problem solving. Instead of focusing on the bossy or controling part, you could focus on the skills of "reading" others and how to respond and negotiate (ie- "When Sarah made that face and crossed her arms, I think it was because she wanted to be the Mommy in the game too. What do you think? What could you do to work it out?"). It's OK to be "alpha"- you just have to know when you are over-stepping the bounds and that is by being sensitive to others signals. If your daughter is sensitive to that and willing to proactively problem solve when she senses there is discontent, I'd let them work out the details .
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#22 of 22 Old 03-29-2010, 08:36 PM
 
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You might try playing more board games and card games with DD. I think they are great at helping kids learn to take turns, follow rules and lose gracefully.
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