Friendship b/w a 4th grader and 1st grader - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 10 Old 05-03-2013, 06:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 1st grader has formed a friendship with another boy in the neighborhood.  At first, it seemed like this was a good match.  They have a lot in common.  My son is an only child and enjoys being around older children.  His 4th grade friend is the youngest, with a teenage sister.  I encouraged the friendship in the beginning, scheduling playdates and such.  Now I'm not so sure how to handle this. 

 

DS is a skinny fellow, roughly 50 lbs at 4'.  His friend is closer to 5' and 90 lbs.  They sit together on the bus and sometimes the friend likes to rough house by pushing, shoving, punching.  It seems like typical boy behavior.  But I wasn't too thrilled to hear that  my son gets punched and hit by a much bigger kid, even if it's "all in good fun".  This morning, I saw the older boy try to  grab a pencil from DS's hand and he wouldn't let go of DS's hand until he got the pencil, then he proceeded to fake stab DS.  They were laughing so I know it wasn't done with malice.  I walked over and didn't want to be confrontational so I told my son to stay out of the street.   I don't know if I should have said something to the other kid about grabbing DS.  (Would this be parenting someone else's kid if I did say something to the older boy?) Should I call his mom and tell her what I saw?  If yes, what should I say?  I don't want to step on any toes, not wanting to cause waves in the relationship.  I'm sort of friends with the 4th grader's mom.  We talk when we see each other at the bus stop.  She rarely come to the bus stop. 

 

What would you do if you were in my place? 

 

My main worry is safety.  With DS being so much smaller, I worry about him getting hurt rough housing with an older bigger kid.  Also, DS doesn't understand the size and strength difference.  When I've mentioned that DS shouldn't rough house with his friend, DS said, "I'm tough, I take karate".  Also, the 4th grader doesn't realize how much stronger he is than DS.  DS doesn't stand up for himself when he needs to, thinking he should take care of it himself.

 

Any input is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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#2 of 10 Old 05-03-2013, 08:32 AM
 
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If you have concerns that your son is allowing himself to be bullied because he knows that's the price he has to pay to play with the other boy, and he is willing to pay that price, then it might help to try really hard to encourage additional friendships with children closer to his age, and try to limit playdates with the older boy to being at your house only so that you can hear what's going on and step in when needed.

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#3 of 10 Old 05-03-2013, 08:56 AM
 
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First, I would talk to your kid and see how he feels about it. Kids like to be rough sometimes. Were his feelings hurt or was he scared?

 

I like the idea of facilitating other closer age relationships. Next year this neighbor will be in 5th grade and that is the king of elementary, he may loose interest in playing with your child. I also think your son and this kid are old enough to figure it out. It is a risk that your child may be injured but I don't think it is a big risk of a serious injury from what you have said here. It is much easier to try things and figure this out as a child than as an adult. If your son 'fails' in this friendship or gets hurt he will learn and remember. If you 'fix' this for him or get in the middle he will count on you to do that as he is older.

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#4 of 10 Old 05-03-2013, 09:18 AM
 
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If my son was happy and didn't see a problem with it, I wouldn't intervene. Even if they don't look like it, kids at that age know their limits. My brother was 5 years older than me, hated me but I was never seriously injured. If they're really good friends, some accidental bumps, bruises, maybe even some stitches are just collateral damage... I'm not saying everyone should go by this, you have to do what you think is right for your son, but for me, it's just a part of childhood as long as there is no maliciousness like you mentioned. 

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#5 of 10 Old 05-03-2013, 11:18 AM
 
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I wouldn't intervene unless my child was having trouble and needed assistance navigating their relationship.

We don't have a lot of kids where we live. My kindergartner's best buddy is a fifth grade boy. They interact really well together. My almost nine-year-old DS often has a harder time. S. is usually a really gentle eleven-year-old but occasionally he gets a little rough with my kids. We have a really good relationship, so I'm able to gently step into when needed, but mostly I let the kids work it out among themselves.
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#6 of 10 Old 05-03-2013, 11:39 AM
 
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I agree with finding out how your son feels about the relationship. I would, while working on another task, start talking about a girlfriend I had that used to bully me, and how I thought it was ok because it was so cool being friends with an older girl! And so on, describing what you've seen, but acting like it was you and an older girlfriend. Listen to his responses. But be working on something, and not really looking at him. Then, hopefully, he'll feel safe about sharing his feelings. Once you know how he feels about the relationship, you'll have a clearer idea of how to proceed.
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#7 of 10 Old 05-03-2013, 11:52 AM
 
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I agree that you should get a sense of how your son feels about the roughhousing. If he is having fun, I wouldn't worry. At most I would tell them not to play "stab" with something that is actually sharp, like a pencil. My kids all play with other kids of widely varying ages, and the boys do roughhouse. My 11yo plays with my 4yo, and my 9yo even had a bout with my friend's 13yo (who takes karate). As long as both boys are happy, I don't mind. If someone really gets hurt, or someone doesn't want to play anymore, the game stops.

Michelle, wife to DH, and momma to DD16, DS15, DS12, DS10, DD9, DD7, DS5, and baby girl born Christmas Eve 2013!
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#8 of 10 Old 05-03-2013, 12:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BellinghamCrunchie View Post

If you have concerns that your son is allowing himself to be bullied because he knows that's the price he has to pay to play with the other boy, and he is willing to pay that price, then it might help to try really hard to encourage additional friendships with children closer to his age, and try to limit playdates with the older boy to being at your house only so that you can hear what's going on and step in when needed.

 

When do you step in?  I don't have any experience being around boys.  I had no brothers growing up and didn't have any boys around in my upbringing.  What's appropriate kids playing and what's crossing the line?  I know it can vary from family to family but I'd like to hear what your norm is. 

 

Also, when DS comes home saying his friend hit him, what's a good course of action?

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#9 of 10 Old 05-03-2013, 02:55 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NorthernVAMom View Post

 

When do you step in?  I don't have any experience being around boys.  I had no brothers growing up and didn't have any boys around in my upbringing.  What's appropriate kids playing and what's crossing the line?  I know it can vary from family to family but I'd like to hear what your norm is. 

 

Also, when DS comes home saying his friend hit him, what's a good course of action?

If your ds comes home and says his friend hit him you say, "and what did you say when he hit you?"  if he says "nothing" you might ask "did you like it? were you playing? or did it bother you?"

If he says "I didn't like it.  It hurt."  you say "you need to tell your friend that you didn't like it and that it bothered you/hurt you."  if he says "but i'm afraid he won't be my friend then."  you say something about how friends listen to each other and don't want to hurt/offend each other etc.  Then you offer to help him talk to his friend about it.  You can teach him things like saying "let's play something else" or "let's play soccer/basketball/legos/a boardgame etc" so that if the play gets too rough *for your son* (not for you) he has a way to change the play easily instead of feeling trapped in rough housing.  

 

I haven't heard anything from your posts that sounds out of bounds of normal.  It *could* be but isn't necessarily.  You have to find out how your kid feels about it.  You can always say something to the other kid too, "yo don't you stab my kid with the pencil!" is a fine thing to say or a more gentle, "hey don't play pretend stabbing with something sharp, someone could get hurt" or whatever.  

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#10 of 10 Old 05-03-2013, 05:05 PM
 
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The younger boy is probably afraid that if he doesn't play like the bigger kids do, he will lose this friendship, and he is most likely correct. He can't whine, or cry, or ask them to stop, and he knows it.

 

There is a kind of unwritten rule that says, "if you want to play with the big kids, you have to play by their rules."

 

I think this friendship probably means much more to the younger one than it does to the older one, and I also think its likely that the friendship will peter out. A fifth grader and a second grader hanging out together is likely to cause embarrassment for the older one. Unless the younger one has other friendships already in place, it's going to hurt as the older boy pulls away.

 

So I think the main focus should be on trying to development friendships with children his own age. Not so much on discouraging the existing friendship between the two boys (because the younger one will feel you're taking something away from him that he values and enjoys) but adding more friends, and to try to have them hang out at your house.

 

Your gut will tell you when to intervene. If you're feeling it's too rough, it probably is. It won't be anything that the older boy hasn't heard before... even small amounts of roughhousing are not tolerated in the classroom, for example. So you don't have to worry that he will look at you like, "what??? No pushing??? What kind of weird rule is that???"

 

I would also frame things as your house rules, and not target the younger child being smaller or weaker or anything like that. That is, say something like, "We don't wrestle like that here" instead of "he's too little for that, it might hurt him" because the younger one is trying to prove he's tough enough and that would undermine him.

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