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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a three+ year old daughter and we went to the birthday party for a 5 year old yesterday. There were about 8 children there of varying ages (3-6). One 4yo was left out of the play (she had arrived late and wasn't in the swing of it). I overheard her asking the birthday girl if she could play with the birthday girl. The birthday girl responded "no, I won't play with you. I will only play with A or B".

My heart broke for the left-out girl and I find myself considering what I would say to my daughter if she said something similar to a friend. I'm interested in (a) do you think any intereference is appropriate (b) if so, how yould you handle?
 

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It is heartbreaking. I still remember the day I heard an older girl say to my DS "You can't play with us" DS didn't seem to mind, but my eyes welled up with tears and I had to fight to keep from crying. If I heard my DS say that to someone (he's 3.5) I would certainly say something. I think I would wait a second to let the other child respond and see if they could work it out on their own but if not I would step in. I would tell him it is not nice to leave people out and that they could all play together. I would let him know that it hurts people's feelings when they are excluded and it isn't nice.

It is really important to me that DS treat people kindly. The only time I think it would be ok for him to not want to play with someone would be if the person he did not want to play with was abusive towards him. I would not force him to play with another child who would hit him or hurt him in any way. But I would let him know that there are nice ways of telling someone you don't want to play with them. For example: "I don't want to play with you right now because you hit/kicked/bit me" That at least lets the other child know why DS chooses not to play with him/her.
 

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I have thought about this one a lot. My ds had a similar incident in kindergarten about a year and a half ago. One boy was always following him and his friends around, trying very hard to play with them and fit in. Unfortunately, what he did just ended up annoying my ds and his friends. One day this boy asked my son strait out if he would be his friend. My son replied "No, NEVER."
: The teacher made my ds be this kids buddy for the rest of the day. He had to sit next to him for every activity and play with him on the play ground. Her reasoning was that my ds didn't know enough about this kid to make the judgement that he didn't want to play with him. I agree with her there.

But, since then, I have mulled this one over alot. I really think it is important for kids to choose their own playmates. And, while I have had the bully talk with my son a lot and he knows that he is not to tease anyone, I don't think I should make him play with some one he doesn't want to play with. I actually just had the bully talk with him again the other day because the above mentioned kid is in his summer camp group, so I wanted to make sure my ds remembered NOT to bully, even if his friends were ( I don't know that they are, just trying to prevent before something happens).

One of my brothers was the victim of bullies growing up, so I know what it does to a kid. But, because of that, I tended to be the person that befriended and championed all the left out kids. Well, I have gotten stuck with some real high-mantainence friends in my life because of it. I just finally realized that this was my pattern. My dh and I used to joke about me attracting all the odd friends - lol. I finally ditched my last "vampire" friend about a year ago. I call her a vampire because she drained every last ounce out of me. She had no other friends and was exhausting.

So, my feelings are that, yes, kids need to be kind to one another, but they don't have to befriend everyone. In the situation that the op mentioned, I would wonder why the girl was invited to the party to begin with. Did the birthday girl invite her, or was she a "have to" invite? I also think that the parents of the left out kids are the ones that need to work with their child to help them gain the social skills to fit in. I know not everyone is going to agree with that.

And, not counting all the stuff I mentioned above (lol), I also think that this is one of those childhood situations that works itself out. If you really watch kids interact and don't step in at the first sign of trouble, you will be surprised at how kids solve their own problems. (I'm talking kids that are at least 4 or 5 years old). I have seen it played out numerous times. Maybe that little girl would find a way to join in on her own without parental involvment and that becomes a gigantic learning experience for her. But, with a parent always stepping in, that experience is taken away.
 

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the birthday party scene is sad. However the child got invited, the person hosting the party (parents?) should make sure everyone has a nice time. No they don't have to all claim to be BFF, but to invite someone and then ignore them is bad manners. dd's birthday is coming up and I'm considering the temperments of all the dc wants to invite before I actually invite anyone.

I think the school situation should be seen like a work situation. No need to go out of your way but everyone deserves some respect. No you don't need to take all the misfits as your personal mission to fix but especially so young I would hope the teachers and parents could help.

As I girl scout leader I insist that everyone treats eachother with respect and no one gets left out no mater how quirky someone is.
 

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I agree with pp about the situation. It was a birthday party, the girl was invited, and the birthday girl should been talk to.

We have neighbors on both sides of us with kids the same age as my daughter. Our three households have the kids in our home throughout the day, these kids play great together. One day, they were all playing together at one of the neighbor's when the kids from the other households told my daughter they were going to watch a movie and that she couldn't watch it with them. I didn't know this happened until the other moms told me about it and had their kids apologize to my daughter. It meant a lot to me to have my neighbors act so responsibly with their children, especially since I wasn't even there to see it happen.

It's one thing if the kids are not friends and are not in each other's homes. But to be at the party and be excluded is really not right. Also, I think children should be taught to be inclusive, to at least give people a chance. There's something to be said about kids making their own choices but kids can be unfairly judgemental about looks and such things. My daughter likes to play with boys and expects girls to be pretty so I have to watch for that. Just because a girl isn't in a dress doesn't mean she isn't fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I appreciate all of your thoughts. I am still mulling it all over: I agree that I don't need to force my kid to be friends with people they don't chose to be friends with but kindness and good manners also matter to me. But some kids have pretty tough karma and I can see why others avoid them. So, no revelations yet, but still thinking...
 

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This is a very interesting problem and I am enjoying the chance to mull it over after reading people's comments.

My son is just about 3 and he is just starting to try to make friends. He is SO proud of his efforts but he was very confused today at the pool. He was going around with a bowl of colored balls and asking kids what color they would like and then giving it to them. He approached 2 girls who appeared to be about 6 or 7 years old. They just looked at him blankly and he kept trying to ask them. In very snotty voices, they started telling him not to follow them, but all he wanted was an answer to his question. I almost stepped in but I decided to wait and watch. He was confused but then another kids answered and he was happy. Later a mother did have to step in because the same 2 girls were picking on her 4 year old daughter (pushing her and calling her names).
 

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Arg. I just had an incident happen last week with my outgoing and very friendly 3 1/2 year old.

We were at a local neighborhood wading pool, and my daughter went up to a 4 year old and tried to play. The girl kept yelling, in her face, "you can NOT come to my birthday party" and laughing at her to one of her friends. I let this happen three times, then I went in and told the girl not to be rude to my daughter. This girl completely ignored me, so I stayed and kept intervening. I even told my daughter that she didn't have to make friends with this girl, but dd1 stayed close to her anyway and kept trying to smile at her.

This girl's other mother finally came over and asked what was going on. I told her, and she blew me off and walked away. I ended up having it out with her later, because her daughter would try coming up to my daughter to say nasty things to her.

I argued with this woman, who said that her little girl was too young to do any wrong...I told her that her daughter was becoming a bully, and that she needed more adult supervision. That if she wasn't going to step in, then I would.

Nothing came of it. Luckily, I was much more upset about the incident than my daughter.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Redwine - it is just that sort of situation that infuriates me. Part of me knows that there are mean kids in the world and my kid is going to have to figure out how to deal with them. Still. When you actually do intervene and the mean kid has virtually no response and the parent blows it off, it really bugs me.

Not that I think my newest plot is ideal, but I have begun using my daughters love of princesses to discuss what makes a true princess. It seems to help her to review that a true princess is kind and has good manners and shares. A phony princess might look like a princess but if she is mean and (whatever undesireable behavior), she is a phony princess. It seems to comfort her to be able to account for bad bahavior without blaming herself for it.
 

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My 3.5 yr. old is in a "I don't like you" "You can't play with me" phase, and uggh! He is normally a very sweet kid, good at sharing, etc. but when someone makes him mad, he just cannot deal with it without being mean. When he says that, I tell him that's not nice, rude, etc. and that we are nice to our friends. If we are at someone's house/the park/zoo/etc. I tell him we'll have to leave if he is rude to our friends and if someone is at our house, I tell him that if he cannot be nice to them they won't want to come over anymore. That seems to work so far- we haven't encountered any kids he truly dislikes.
 

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most senerios involve a single child trying to join in a group already playing. Not that anyone is "mean". dd is an only and I've spent many hours at playground and mall playareas to see this on a regular basis.
I love our neighbourhood playground. It's a growing area so many people are new. Many speak English as a second language (if at all). and the "you can't play with me" stuff rarely happens.
 

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I also think that the parents of the left out kids are the ones that need to work with their child to help them gain the social skills to fit in.

Ok, how do I teach my child these skills. Can you teach your child how to be sociable. I agree that your child (general) shouldn't have to play with another child if they don't want to, but what about the leftout kid, that doesn't know how to interact with others.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by db1au
Can you teach your child how to be sociable.
Yes, I think you can. You can't override their natural personality, but I think you can teach a child how to behave in a way that will help them to get friends.

First, role play often. With stuffed animals, dolls, yourself, etc. Practice positive behaviors.

Second, know your child. If you see your child playing with others and constantly not sharing toys (depending on age, of course), hitting, doing things to irritate other kids, etc. then practice alternatives to these behaviors. If you know your child is always bossy, always directing the play when other children try to join in, then work with him/her on this.

I could add a lot more, but I don't have the time now. Just some things to think about.
 

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Thanks twocoolboys for your comments.

My daughter has had a few rough weeks. She keeps saying she has no friends, nobody likes her. She just seems to have no confidence in herself. My husband and I talked to her last night and tried to give her ways to help with her social skills. She goes to daycare and in May was separted from several of her friends. 5 children that she liked to play with went to a different room, she was put into a room with new children and she really hasn't connected with any one else. The good thing is she starts K next week, the bad thing is she starts k next week. LOL
 

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FWIW my very social near-4 yo has run into the 'no you can't play with us' situation at parks many times. If he cares (sometimes he doesn't) I'll just say "well, I guess they aren't feeling friendly today, should we go see if those kids over there are feeling friendly?" He seems to 'get' that not everyone is always in the best mood to make new friends or even play nicely with someone for a short while ... and I use the same language with him if he tells someone else to not play with him (and it's an issue). "Hmm, I guess you're not feeling so friendly today. Let's go play somewhere else where you can have more private time." This actually works, at least for now. He'll even say "I'm not feeling friendly right now, maybe later" to another child.

We'll see what happens in pre-k next month.
 

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When I've seen similar situations like this, I will usually approach the child that has been rejected. I've started playing w/that kid and what usually happens is that the other kids think that looks like fun. Before you know it, the rejected child is one of many.

Birthday parties suck. Seems like there's always one kid who ends up crying b/c they feel left out.
 
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