P.R. asks from Akron, OH on October 19, 2011
What Would You Have Done at This Playdate?
My older daughter has had a good friend for about a year who moved to another school nearby. The last time the friend was at our house was my daughter's bday party and I remember being a bit surprised that she seemed to have a bit of an attitude. She'd always been very nice. But didnt think much of it. Yesterday she came over for a 1:1 playdate. My younger daughter was at swimming for about an hour so they had time alone. When I brought my younger one home and our nanny left, the girls started playing outside. They took my younger one's scooter but she was a really good sport about it and ran after them in a playful way vs demanded it back. (Older girls just turned 7, younger is 5 and 3/4). Then they wanted to go to a little park about 70 yards from our house. Of course they were kind of excluding my youngest but that's par for the course and she was fine. Same time, this girl and my youngest have been friendly in the past. My youngest has always liked her and they've played 1:1 a bit. After awhile, my oldest had to go to the bathroom. I'm fine w/ her running home alone bc it's very close but I didn't want to let her friend go with her bc I don't know if her mom would appreciate her daughter being unattended for a few minutes. So I had her stay with me and my youngest. There's a climbing tree my youngest had gotten higher on than I'd ever seen so I made a comment about friend climbing the tree too. She gave me a bit of a snotty "I've climbed a tree before." Whatever. Then my youngest went over to her and I heard something like "I don't need help from a little baby!" in a mean voice. I said "That wasn't nice!" Not sure if I said something else. Then after a couple of minutes, my youngest went to say something to her and she said "don't follow me around" in a mean voice again. At that point, I said "ok, play date is over." And I took her home. I told her she wasn't being nice so they weren't going to play anymore. I hadn't had the best day so was maybe less patient than usual but I was mad. I don't expect my youngest to be included but she also doesn't deserve to be talked down to so meanly either for no reason. She's a rather shy, sweet kid so of course mama bear came out. Now of course I feel bad though at the same time, wonder if I want this kid over ever again (assuming she wants to come back). I have a hard time with outright meaness and would want my child sent home if she said something like this to a friend's younger sibling. Sometimes my oldest's friends can be a bit nasty to her but it's between them so I let it go. I know they have to work these things out themselves and typically the child is just tired or something. But this seemed different. What would you have done? The mom was very nice and apologetic btw but we didn't talk long.
EDIT - I've already told the mother and the girl that we should have another playdate. I'm saying I am not sure I really want to but of course I will invite her back over.
So What Happened?™
Jo W - I get what you're saying which is why I'm conflicted on this and not sure I would have done the same thing another day. I get a bit hung-up though on boundaries in my home. Granted, this was in a park but it was "our park", this girl was a guest etc. So do I let anything go or do I kind of say we have certain standards that have to be maintained or no more playing?... I'm really flexible about what kids do at our house. ie: they seem to mess it up all the time and can be loud and crazy etc, I'm not a huge stickler on manners. But like I said, meaness just gets to me. So in my home, I should let a friend be outright mean to one of my other kids? If it's the target child's friend, I'm ok with letting my kid figure out maybe she doesn't want to be friends with this kid anymore. And I'm a big believer that you can't make everyone play together (I don't insist my youngest be included) or be friends but can't I demand certain manners to other members of our household? I don't want to make things harder on my kids though so maybe I should just let things go in the future if this happens again but I'm torn.
Momma L - I guess I'm oversensitive bc your post seems to be another an example of not being nice. And you're an adult! I did correct the friend when she called my daughter "a little baby". I said firmly "that wasn't very nice!" And I said something else I don't remember exactly what but furthing my point. So that was one warning. Two, my youngest had barely done anything AND this girl has played with her in the past so how is my youngest supposed to know that today she wasn't allowed to say a word to her? I didn't. The second time she went up to her, she wasn't in her face at all and didn't get a chance to say a word! I was sitting pretty close to the friend so my youngest coming up wasn't exactly chasing her. I was there too. I'm very conscious of my kids bugging other kids or being too persistent. The age difference btw is only 15 months so this girl was actually kind of friends with my youngest first. Maybe I did overreact a bit which is why I posted but many people say I didn't at all and I think you are skewing or ignoring the facts.
Staqey B - my older daughter was upset in a way but also kind of siding with me saying how she's always nice to this friend's little sister (who is only about 2). Of course I don't know if that's true or not but I certainly wouldn't mind if the mother sent her home bc she wasn't being nice.
A.T. answers from Boston on October 19, 2011
I think i would have done the same thing that you did. Unfortuntely with little girls they get to have a bit of an attitude problem and they are very clicky. I remember being that way when I was little and my freinds being that way to my little sister. I think its good that you spoke up soo she knew that you did not appreciate it. Also I am 25 and my sister is 24 and she still remembers all the little girls that were my friends that were mean to her... I bet she wished my mom would have stuck up for her
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L.B. answers from Boston on October 19, 2011
There is an eight year span between my oldest and my youngest child - there are three of them. When they were younger, we had this issue from time to time with the older ones' friends. Like you, I mostly let the older kids work it out themselves when it was between them. I also made a reasonable attempt to keep my younger kids away when they older ones had friends over. Usually my oldest take care of it himself if his friend was being mean to his siblings. There were times, though, that I stepped in and said "if you want to play at my house, you will be civil to ALL my children. Otherwise you will not be welcome here." That was usually all it took. Even in the most extreme cases.
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M.N. answers from Charlotte on October 19, 2011
I have not read other responses because I want to encourage you to stand up for manners and not tolerate meanness. The more of us who expect the best, the better it is for everyone. You did nothing wrong. I love the phrase "The playdate is now over since you are not playing nice." Nip it in the bud.
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S.T. answers from New York on October 19, 2011
You're being a typical mama-bear - feelig for your kid when an older kid is less than gracious. Don't think your own child doesn't have their own social mistakes when you're not around and they're in a less than comfortable situation. I was always a shy kid and felt very awkward when with my friend's parents if the friend wasn't there next to me. When kids feel awkward they say awkward things.
This is not a big issue - I'd let it pass. If you allow yourself to overthink every comment another kid makes you'll lose your mind. When my kids were the age of yours I came to the conclusion that I didn't really like other people's kids. There were times I didn't like my own - but I loved them. Other people's kids are tough. If they're not too snarky or fresh, they're too perfect or tattle-taley, etc. But as the kids have gotten older and are now teens I've had the tough learning experience of hearing things my kids have said, or seen things they've done that I either happened upon by mistake, or experienced when they didn't know I could see/hear. My conclusion is that kids are very un-polished precious jewels. They need to get rolled around in gritty environments to get smooth and shiny. They will make lots of social errors on their way to maturity and adulthood - so give them some grace and move on.
No one said parenting was easy - and other people's kids are even more tough!
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J.F. answers from Bloomington on October 19, 2011
I think I would have said something like, "Hey. (mama voice) We need to talk nicely to our friends." If she did it again, "Well if we can't talk nicely to our friends, than maybe we shouldn't play together today."
I think you handled it just fine. You said something (which you should have) as a warning. She did it again in your presence and you gave a swift LOGICAL consequence.
If you invite her again, make it clear that you expect EVERYONE to speak and act kindly otherwise the playdate will end.
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L.C. answers from Dover on October 19, 2011
Maybe I did it wrong, but I am like you and with my kids and their friends the deal was that they didn't have to continuously include their younger siblings but they absolutely had to be kind to them. If someone was mean to their little brother or sister they were taught to take offense. It's a family first home around here.
I think you did the right thing and if she comes back to play you need to set clear boundaries the second she is in your house. Kind words, kind gestures, ask before using her stuff and if you use it she gets to be included in the play, group activities like the park are all inclusive play times so if you want to play alone that happens in your daughter's bedroom. If the rules aren't followed by all the girls, the play date is over and she goes home immediately. The follow through. State the rules everytime and follow through everytime.
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D.B. answers from Dallas on October 19, 2011
Since you had given a warning and the behavior continued and given you weren't having the best day either, it was appropriate to end the playdate. However, I think contemplating never having her back to play again is a bit dramatic. 7 years old is still young and still learning how to handle social situations. Every kid is mean at some point (yes, even your children!), but the great thing is that kids are very forgiving. This is a great teaching opportunity for you to teach your children about treating others kindly and forgiving. Instead of shutting this girl out, invite her over again and let your girls set a good example. Now, if the girl continues to be hurtful and the playdates are no longer fun for your girls, then you definitely need to protect your kids. But for now, imagine if the situation were reversed - how would you want the other parent to treat your daughter?
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V.W. answers from Jacksonville on October 19, 2011
I would have ended it too. But I would probably give her another chance (as far as inviting her again in the future). It doesn't matter that you were at a park vs. at your home. You were "hosting" and were the supervisory adult.
I don't mind letting my kids figure things our for themselves, but at the same time, the 7 yr old needs some gentle direction too. And letting her know that it is not okay to talk like that to someone just b/c they are smaller than her or younger, is a GOOD thing. I probably wouldn't have said anything if it was just some other child at the playground that I didn't know and wasn't in charge of. But the fact that you WERE in charge and supervising her changes things. At least for me.
Doesn't sound like you were too harsh to me. Sometimes kids need to hear a tiny bit or harshness to be able to recognize that "wow, I must be way out of line". And she was. It's how they learn to self-regulate their mouths, and having responsible adults to guide them is part of learning to self-regulate.
You did good. In my opinion.
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P.G. answers from Des Moines on October 19, 2011
When our kids were growing up we had a yard as big as a park. We were the house where all the kids in the area came to play and we were set up with toys and equipment for anything they wanted to play. But we had a few firm rules.
No name calling, (and cursing was not tolerated).
No keeping score (can lead to too much aggression)
Everybody has a good time (no excluding anyone who wanted to play).
If you were caught breaking our rules, you were "grounded" for two weeks from playing in our yard. The grounded kid would always be back in two weeks and would usually check with us first to make sure it was okay for them to play again. They were always welcomed back with a smile! Every child who was grounded, always came back.
With these few simple rules our yard stayed a safe and friendly place to play.
With a one on one play date, I agree. They should be allowed their time together without younger siblings. But the other rules still applied.
Words can hurt!
I can respect if you are not a stickler on "manners", but a basic respect for other human beings is not over the top.
For this girl to be so disrespectful, I worry she has the makings of a bully.
Not all the kids playing at our house had good homes or anyone who cared. But at our house, they knew I cared enough about them to make them responsible for their own actions. I cared enough to say "No".
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G.M. answers from Phoenix on October 19, 2011
During the stages of growing up, kids will often experience different attitudes, snottiness, and wanting more of their own space. It's hard to accept I know. My son is turning 7 this month and I have noticed a bit of a change in the way he plays with his little brother, and his attitude. It's part of them growing up. I wouldn't like a child being mean to my little one either and I would have to tell him/her that if they are going to act that way and be mean to friends, then they can't play over here. And I would take them home too. Then when they come over again for another playdate, I would remind them that we share and be fair, and play nice with each other or the playdate will end like last time. Kids will forget so this reminder will help them remember what happened last time.
Oh and if another playdate does happen, don't let anyone else's child climb a tree in your care. If that child falls and gets seriously hurt, you could be liable for their medical bills and be construed as neglagent. I personally wouldn't want my son to go over to a friends house and have that parent allow my child to climb a tree. Climbing trees are fun, but it should be with that parent present so that they can be liable for their own child. :-D
PS: Letting children solve their own issues is great, unless an older child is being mean to a younger one like in this instance...with that 7 year old being mean with the 4 year old. Not acceptable. And a parent needs to intervene IMO.
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