Friday, 11 November 2011

You WILL play with her!

Recently, a mummy blogger posted about how she had been called over for a meeting at the school because her daughter was playing exclusively with one friend. She spoke about how a third little girl was becoming upset about not being included in the duo. She wondered about whether we should be interfering with our kids' friendships. (Sorry but I don't remember who it was - I've only just started blogging and still getting my head around who's who - If you recognise yourself then feel free to drop me a line and I'll add a link to your page).

Anyway, at the time I wasn't sure how I felt about it, so I didn't leave a comment. But something has happened since and I know now.

My little boy, who is 2, has a "friend" - one I don't like very much.

He lives in the neighbourhood, and my son and him sometimes get together for a play. My son kind of worships him and wants to do everything he does.

"Look mum, I 'dwop' kick like Tom"

"Mum I want a bike like Tom"

That's all good. Except that "Tom" turns nasty as soon as "Michael", another neighbour, comes into the picture.

They run away from my son. Call him names. Or just totally ignore him. The other day he came to me, dropped his head, curled his little lip and said "Tom no want play with me" and started sobbing. It broke my heart.

Now, no doubt this is a normal experience most kids go through. Nothing we can do about it. It's going to happen.

Him and I had a chat about how sometimes others do things we don't like very much. He needs to learn to cope with rejection. I get that. And I'm sure he's done it before to others.

When I read the other mum's post, I thought, "I know that it upsets me and my child when other's reject him, and for that reason I'd like the other child's mum to intervene" - but I wasn't sure that would be fair on the kids. Can we "force" them to be friends with someone they don't want to be friends with? I didn't know. And I still don't know.

But today something happened. I took my kids to the local playground and it so happened that a little girl he plays with at daycare (Charlotte) was there. The two of them played beautifully together.

And then, Charlotte's friend, Lily, arrived.

Charlotte and my son didn't want to play with Lily and after a few attempts to engage them, she ran to her mum crying.

Very sad.
And my little boy had made her sad.

So I went and sat with him for a bit and we had a chat. We spoke about how he felt when Tom won't play with him. And how Lily must be feeling now. I'm not sure how much of it he really got, and initially he said he wouldn't play with Lily. But after some persuasion (telling him that we'd go home if he couldn't play nicely with
both of them - and I didn't threaten as such - just gently encouraged) Charlotte and my son agreed to play with Lily.

And they had a great time.

And I really feel that I did the right thing by encouraging - ok in a sense, not giving him a choice but - to play with Lily.

It did him no harm.
It taught him about considering others' feelings.
And it made a little girl happy.

Image credit ducks
Image credit dogs