Friend rejecting my kids - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 08-16-2014, 01:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Friend rejecting my kids

My boys are 5 and 4. There's a boy that lives with his grandparents next door who is 8 and he is over here almost all the time. The problem is that as soon as there is someone "better" for him to play with, he totally ditches my kids and it's very hurtful and hard for them to understand.

Today alone he spent most of the morning at our house and then he saw his cousins at his house, this happens fairly regularly because they don't live far. So he says "I'm going to go play with my cousins and then I'll be back" no invitation for my kids to join even though they ask. 15 minutes later he is back and playing with my kids for another half hour or so until another boy about the same age as he is knocks on our door. So then he takes off with this little boy again, no invite for my kids to join (also a common occurrence when this child is at his grandparents who live down the street)

I understand that he is older and he wants to play with older kids, but it's so hurtful to my kids when he ditches them. They can't understand why their friend doesn't want to play with them when there are other kids to play with. I have no clue how to deal with this. I've thought about just telling him not to play with my kids at all since he doesn't seem to really value them. Advice please?
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#2 of 6 Old 08-16-2014, 03:49 PM
 
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The problem is that as soon as there is someone "better" for him to play with, he totally ditches my kids and it's very hurtful and hard for them to understand.
I think it's possible that you have the wrong read on what's going on. In my neighborhood the neighbor kids play when there's nothing else going on. If they have outside friends they sometimes choose to include the neighbor kids and other times not. When neighbor kids have family visiting I would say that more often than not they do not include neighbor kids. "My cousin is here, I have to go," is a common phrase around here.

From time to time we have a similar situation as you are experiencing with older neighbor kids wanting to play alone without younger neighbor kids. I agree that there is some tact required here that this boy is lacking. I have a 3.5 year old who is often left out of the neighbor play because she's just too young for some things and some parts of the property lines. I run interference. I help the older kids slip out so the younger kid isn't hurt. I help them communicate. I keep track of time and ask that they change what or where they are playing if I feel my younger has been left out too long.

If I were you I would move away from this idea that your kids are second fiddle or being ditched and towards helping neighbor kids learn ways of communicating and ways of accepting the nature of neighbor play.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#3 of 6 Old 08-16-2014, 08:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you, that's exactly the kind if input I was looking for.

I've talked withy kids, trying to work through their emotions when this happens. I've explained that he wants time with his cousins or other friends etc. it's hard to not get angry when I see how upset it makes my boys!

It's easier to accept when it's the cousins/family he wants to visit with. It's much harder when it's just the older friends because they do like to come over, I think more to play with out stuff than the kids, and then when they get bored they take off and my boys just don't get it. I'm having a hard time because I know this is the nature of life and social interactions but when they are crying because their friend is leaving them I just want to protect them from that pain! I will work on tact fullness with the neighbor boy, and keep explaining to my kids why it's happening, but at some point should I draw a line about these older boys just wanting to come over for the trampoline/play the piano/other fun stuff?
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#4 of 6 Old 08-17-2014, 06:35 AM
 
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I will work on tact fullness with the neighbor boy, and keep explaining to my kids why it's happening, but at some point should I draw a line about these older boys just wanting to come over for the trampoline/play the piano/other fun stuff?
I have no experience with this, sorry. I can speculate and say that if kids are over at my house to play with *stuff* and not my kids that I would probably say something like, "If you kids are finished playing together I suggest we end the playdate or find something to do together."

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#5 of 6 Old 08-17-2014, 03:26 PM
 
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Just because a relationship dynamic is common doesn't mean it works for everyone. It sounds like the problem here is that the kids are feeling pain, not the OP. I do think that the OP should work on helping her kids frame this better so they can enjoy the friendship without getting hurt, but it just may not work out that way. If things aren't getting better and the OP's kids are just getting more hurt, I'd encourage the kids to set their own boundaries and let them know that it's okay to cut someone out of their life if that person is causing more harm than good.

Also, none of us are there to see what's going on. I had a friend who did this. She came from a very unhappy family and was a manipulative brat who played people against each other for fun. Definitely a kid who learned "negative attention is better than no attention". So the times when she'd be playing with me and then dropped me for someone more interesting- she was most certainly doing it to be hurtful and as a power play.

I had another friend who came from a loving family but was just super busy- if we were playing and she had to drop me, she apologized and meant it. I never doubted, and still don't doubt, that she was legitimately apologetic and valued my friendship. But it happened so often that I just didn't feel the need to put a lot of effort in and we drifted apart quite naturally.

Because the OP's kids are getting hurt so badly, I can't help but suspect it may be a little more than just a normal dynamic. Kids are more sensitive to things than we sometimes give them credit for, and certainly more than they understand- they may be picking up on the way that their 'friend' doesn't actually value them.

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#6 of 6 Old 08-17-2014, 03:56 PM
 
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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.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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