Exclusionary behavior from 5 and 6 year old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 04-29-2012, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi!  I'm wondering how people handle it when other people's children tell your children that they don't want to play with them anymore.  I have a 4 1/2 year daughter who spends a lot of time with a 5 year old.  I am friends with her mom so our kids tend to be together a couple times a week.  Recently, I have noticed that the 5 year old girl has been telling our daughter to stop following her and saying that she doesn't want to play with her anymore/she wants to play with another girl.  It has been really hurtful for me to see this as well as hear the stories because my daughter thinks that the other girl is her best friend.  Since this started, I have been really paying attention to both girl's interaction and I do see my daughter acting a little clingy on the other girl at times and following her around so there is some legitimacy to the situation.  I'm trying to coach my daughter into playing with other people in the group, sitting next to others, etc.  That said, I also feel like I want to help her stand up for herself by saying something like 'that is not nice to say.  friends don't act like that to each other'.


Have other people experienced this?  If so, how did you handle with your children and possibly other moms?  We are in social situations with this family a couple times a week and our girls are starting kindergarten together in the Fall so I am feeling very uncomfortable.


Thanks for any experiences!

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#2 of 5 Old 04-29-2012, 04:47 PM
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This is a tough one.  I think the other girl should be kind, but "I'm going to play xyz with Kim right now" isn't unkind.  "I'm not playing with YOU!" with a mean expression and tone isn't ok.  So not wanting to play with her all the time, or honestly even at all IF there is a situation you are unaware of, may be fair.  It is tough when the moms are friends but the kids just don't gel.  My parents had very close friends whose only child son I was made to play with often.  He was scary as hell and I was petrified to go to their house even though his parents were wonderful.  He has spent his adult life in jail.  But my mother wanted me to be nice and coerced me into playing with him in his room whenever we were there visiting.  In my current life, my bff's daughter is very near one of my daughter's ages - and we go through what you describe.  When they were young it worked ok but as they've gotten older it just doesn't work.  I have let dd make her own choice not to socialize with my bff's dd.  I feel badly that it hurts anyone's feelings, but there are legitimate reasons my dd doesn't want to spend time with the other girl and I'm respecting that. 


I think this is a great time to expand your dd's friend base.  If there is a truthful reason behind it that you know of, I'd use that - "Jillie is spending a lot of time with Kim because they are working on a Girl Scout project together" or "just moved next door" or whatever.  I'd acknowledge your dd's sadness (IF she has it - I try not to place my own feelings about a situation or what I perceive her feelings might be onto her) then move on to a positive suggestion - "let's call Nathan - I bet he'd like to race you on our double slip and slide!"


My kids are 15, 11 and 8.  Friends come and go.  There are times when certain kids practically live at your house then disappear for a year, only to show up again later!  I try hard not to get too worried about it.  The kids always have a reason.  I try to respect that.  Mine has chosen to spend less time with some friends when they started into smoking/drinking/drugs.  She never told me why; the kids just weren't around after a certain point.  You are far from this, but it is never too early to expand the friend base and learn that it is ok to reduce the time spent with any one person.

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#3 of 5 Old 04-30-2012, 11:34 AM
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In a group social situation, I expect the kids to play inclusively. But there isn't much you can do if the other parent isn't encouraging that. I wouldn't *make* kids play together but individual playdates are more appropriate if kids are going to exclude someone in a group social setting. I guess I'd do what you are doing, and try to direct dd to play with kids who are more receptive. Maybe some one on one playdates with other kids would get a bond going with them so dd wasn't always focusing on the other girl. If there weren't other kids besides the other girl, I'd probably just not go to the events. Don't know if that's reasonable in your shoes. My experiences were always something specifically for the kids, not anything that was actually for the adults and the kids were just along for the ride. So I would have no reason to take ds if there wouldn't be anyone who wanted to play with him.


Since you are friends with the mom, there should be some way you can broach the subject and get her take on it. You could suggest getting together without the kids since her dd isn't interested in playing with yours anymore and you don't want to force them together. You can ask her whether she thinks the kids should be encouraged to play inclusively in group settings or whether she thinks they should have their playmate preferences upheld. Ask her what her point of view is so you can either help the kids integrate a third player (sometimes they just can't figure out how to do that and need a little help) or redirect your own dd. The tricky part is to do it in a way that doesn't come across as passive-aggressive...

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#4 of 5 Old 04-30-2012, 11:43 AM
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I tried to distract my dd with another activity when she was younger and that usually worked.  If it was a situation where the kids saw each other too much and wanted space I scaled back on playdates for a while to give them breathing room.  When it was my dd doing the excluding I reminded her that she needed to include everyone and that it was okay to play with more than one person at a time.  When she was excluded I would remind her that her friend still liked her but just wanted a little space to do or play with someone else for a while.


Since the other mom isn't intervening I would also suggest trying to initiate a conversation to see if her dd has been talking about something bothering her about your dd.  I have noticed that when there seems to be a problem with my dd's friendship it tends to be because of issues on both sides.



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#5 of 5 Old 04-30-2012, 05:55 PM
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I often find that if I start playing something fun with dd, the other kids will come join in, especially at that age.  Outside, things like hide and seek, tag, parachute play are good, indoors an art project or game.  I agree to try to strengthen her friendships with the other kids in the group, and reduce time there if possible. 

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