That certainly can be, SS. I do think that neighbor dynamics are different and have different expectations from friendships. We've had great success with neighbors by recognizing that neighbors are this odd space -in this triangle between family, friends, and that other thing were neighbors are sometimes nothing more than forced by proximity to rely on each other. I think there's a lot to be said for working through neighbor relations for kids.
It's true that we're not seeing the dynamic play out but we've had a summer full of neighbor kids coming and going. Neighbors getting bored and moving along is the nature of neighbor play. My 3 year old gets bummed by that for sure. I think that's a fine thing for her to learn. She CHERISHES the time that her 8 year old neighbor plays with her. It's few and far between and, yes, short lived. That same 8 year old girl probably feels the same way about my 12 year old, especially as my older child grows and sometimes has older interests.
If the dynamic is overall negative, yes, by all means, get in there! But if it is overall positive and the biggest problem is that it has to end from time to time -- I think it's good for kids to learn how to deal with that.
OP, one thing that we do that seems to really encourage group play is to be sure there's lots of encouragement for outdoor play. Collectively we have established that outdoor play is inclusive play. Indoor is sometimes inclusive (I prefer all-inclusive play but recognize that kids sometimes want smaller groups for different sorts of play).
If there's more to this dynamic beyond older kids sometimes wanting to play together and/or getting bored with younger kids, I do think the OP can step in and encourage better communication and neighbor culture. She can have her outdoor space be open and inviting, which may encourage the same from other neighbors. If there was an unequal openness there - let's say your kids were not invited to play in the 8 year old's yard when he as friends over but your kids include him, I would probably reciprocate the lack of hospitality. Not to be rude but because it's nice to have similar rules and mores with your neighbors. If they don't share yours - it's good to see if maybe you can adapt to theirs.
One more thing - I do think that there's a lot to be said for honoring the deep feelings of our kids. BUT, I also think there's a lot to be said for the fact that kids often feed off of the energy we put into a situation.
Troll? Here's me...
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