A bit of background first. My son is 6, he has a 'friend' who moved back to our area after an absence of around two years. Up until they were both four, they used to be good buddies, with the other boy always being a rough and tumble kind of kid. But both got along well together. Then they moved away, but we kept in touch sporadically. They moved back a couple months ago. We have had a play date at a park and at our home. The friend was grabby, not inclined to share and broke one of my sons toys. As in threw it to the ground deliberately. His mom was pretty weak about it. Before this incident, I had already accepted an invite for this kid's sixth birthday.
So, we go over to the park for the birthday. Kid comes and grabs at the gift bag. Plays ok with my son until his other friend comes and joins them. I was talking to the mom, when my son comes and complains that both boys are excluding him and saying some mean things. I went over to sort things out, knowing by now how things play out with this boy. They call him a tattle tale for telling on them. I take my son away to grab a bite at the picnic table. After lunch, it's more of the same, the birthday boy deliberately excluding my son, random mean comments, etc. At this point, I decide to leave. Cake had just been cut, I ask my son to take his slice and eat it in the car on the way home. My son goes to say bye and thanks to the boy and gets ignored with a sideways bye.
Kids change, they move on, I get that. But this was just a bad attitude problem all around! Needless to say, we won't be in touch with them again. But, experienced moms, how do you handle such bad manners and exclusion? What is the best way?
My DD is six also so this has just started in the last year or so, but I have encouraged DD to handle it on her own with pretty good results. Her school also very actively trains the kids in how to approach these problems, so DD seems pretty willing to speak up when she feels wronged (and goes to bat for other kids who are being wronged). Recently, a little girl who was visiting a family in our neighborhood took DD's stuffy and rolled it in the dirt after DD asked her not to, and DD calmly and firmly took that little girl to task and got her to apologize! I really want to encourage that kind of direct calm communication between peers - in my office and general adult life I find that a lot of people are still unable to communicate about their issues and it causes a lot of problems that could be avoided.
In your example, I would have encouraged DD to tell the other boys that she felt excluded. If they didn't change their behavior or she didn't want to talk to them about it, then I would have encouraged DD to find some other kids to play with or said we could leave. I would not have gotten involved with the badly behaving kids or their parents.
This may all go out the window when the social dynamics get more complicated as DD gets older, but it seems to be working so far.
What were the mean things being said at the birthday party? I'm wondering, because, sometimes what's mean to one child isn't mean to another. For example, in our house, there's a lot of "you're a poopy head" or "you've got stinky feet"...it's not said in the spirit of meanness, but rather for fun for all involved, and when one of my ds's starts being bothered by it, we make sure to point out that it's not a fun game unless both people think it's funny...however, kids can't always just stop instantly doing something that was fun for everyone a second prior. I've also noticed (and my ds1 is 5.5) that it takes my kid several times playing with someone before they figure out each other's play patterns. Ds is an introvert and it always seems like he's taking the other kid too seriously and getting upset if the other kid grabs his toy OR he doesn't know when to stop doing something that to him seems funny, but the other kid has lost interest in. So, he and his friend could be chasing each other and all of a sudden, the other kid no longer wants to do that...ds1 doesn't just stop immediately....but none of it is to be mean, either on his end or the other kid's ... Also, he's not very good about saying hello or bye to people, and usually has to be reminded. I guess some people have better social graces and some worse...I don't think it's being mean though. He's also said he's not playing with "X" but it's not because he's excluding them, usually he's trying to define his personal space (again, he's an introvert). He doesn't pick one friend over another.
What was the toy that was broken? Personally, I would offer to replace it. Or anything else my kid broke, and especially on purpose. I'm surprised that your friend didn't.
Thank you both for your replies. After he turned 5, I've encouraged my son to talk things out and figure out a solution and if all else fails to approach me. Mostly though, per my observation little boys tend to act more than verbalize, they are apt to just walk away. After an initial attempt I asked my son if he still wants to stay or leave, he opted to stay and enjoy his time in the park, his further attempts to join in were met by more petty behavior. So we left shortly after the cake was cut.
Mean things like "go away", "we don't want to play with you", "you can't play with us". Stuff where there is no mistaking the intent to be mean. Ganging up and pushing the other out kind of thing. This is not about "defining personal space"- remember up until the new boy joined them this kid had no problem playing with my son.I get that this age is not big on social graces being a priority, but I think deliberately ignoring someone who is saying bye and thank you at YOUR birthday party is just bratty behavior. The toy was a water guun and no, the mother did not offer to replace it. Had it been my boy, the play date would have ended that instant and we would get the other kid a replacement.
It is sad that some parents don't address such behavior (no surprise where it springs from) and the onus is upon the other parent to handle it. Sadly, rotten behavior exists and I wonder what is the best way to help my son address it.
Yeah, that doesn't sound very nice...sometimes it serves as a good example, though, to demonstrate to our kids how certain words make them feel...I am not personally very good at coming up with things to say in those situations, so I would probably just discuss it with my child later about how it feels bad when people say things like that to you, so we have to be careful about what we say to others, and leave it at that. Maybe even talk about how when we try to be friendly, and people don't treat us how we want to be treated, we leave those people alone, because we deserve to be treated well. I think that's a good lesson at any age. Sounds like you handled it ok.
^ This ^
I think it is a good lesson for both parties to learn. Your son does not need to be treated poorly by his friend and his friend should learn that when you act unkindly towards others, people won't want to be around you.
I think you handled it just right babygrace.
All I will add is that I def think this other boy's mama should have done more to correct her son's behavior. I would have never tolerated my own kid treating a guest that way, and I would have insisted on replacing the broken toy from the first play date.
I think you should continue putting some healthy space between your son and this kid, at least for awhile. I wouldn't hold a grudge forever though. I would just give it a healthy amount of time before trying things again with this kid.
|Child , Children|