Kids Being Kids

Updated on September 15, 2011
E.R. asks from Indianapolis, IN
28 answers

my cousin is always complaining to me about "kids being mean and bullies". to her, just because one of the kids doesnt want to play with one of her "darlings" at recess or at the park then they are mean. once I guess there was some game the other kids made up at the playground and they told her oldest son he couldnt play. to me, i would tell my son to just go play somewhere else or with someone else, no big deal. but not her, she wants to talk to the kids and ask why they are being bullies and get parents involved etc. To me, a bully is someone who is verbally or physical abusive or threatening etc. kids pushing or hitting, biting is bullying. calling names yelling threatening, telling them they are dumb, no one likes them etc is bullying. in my opinion not wanting to play with another kid or telling them they can't play a game is just being a kid, maybe not the nicest kid, but not a bully. She is always asking my advice, how should she approach the parent, should she get the principal involved? she even mentioned once about goin to city hall to have people monitor the playground at a local park to make the kids be nice...i'm sorry but I think she is crazy and has taken it to far with that one. but I do know some parents at the preschool we go to have similar ideals. what do you think? am I the mean/weird one?

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So What Happened?

there is a HUGE differene between a child being physically and verbally abused by a BULLY and being told by another child(ren) that you cant play with us. kids are kids, they dont always want to include every kid, sometimes kids aren't the nicest and dont want to include other kids in their games. but that doesn't make them a bully. bully's SEEK OUT OTHERS TO TORMENT, they are purposefully mean and tormentful. sorry, but I dont see how some kid telling my child "you cant play with us" makes them a bully. just my opinion

is it just me, or is the world becoming waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to "PC"????? and the victim mentality is just unreal. sorry, I know that I will probably get some angry responses for that, but come on now.

so the people who are big fans of the phrase "bullying by exclusion", basically you are saying that kids have to talk to and play with every single child they ever come accross or they are a bully. they have to invite every single person they know to any party they have or they are a bully. when they go to a public park/play area, they have to play with every single child there or they are a bully. do they have to try to play with the REAL bullies, because if they exclude them that makes them a bully to it seems. and since I am an adult, if I dont include every single person I know in everything I do, then I am a bully? none of that makes any sense at all. just because some kids dont want to play with anothe does not make them a bully. it just means they dont want to play with them. I was excluded in a lot of things when I was little, I didnt turn out a bully, I dont abuse people, I am a nice woman. ooops wait, I didnt invite my neighbor to a get together we had last week, so I guess I AM a bully....hhhmmmmmm, some things are just taken to far and blown waaaaaaaaay to far out of proportion. the world is not all sunshine and rainbows, we shouldnt act like it is.

Monica N>>>great response, and I totally agree with you!

Thanks to everyone who responded, even those who are accusing me of being the bully(nice little personal messages in my inbox this morning from one mom). I appreciate everyone taking the time to answer!

okay, unless I have had a total brain fart, I never said that mean words, i.e, name calling, saying someone is dumb, stupid, ugly etc doesnt constitute bullying, all I said that a child saying " i don't want to play with you" is not bullying. and IN MY OPINION(to make a certain one happy) for all of the "exclusion bullying" supporters out there, isn't that EXACTLY WHAT YOU ALL ARE DOING TO ME??? you don't like what I said so you have my answers or questions does that not fall under your umbrella difinition...and I dont really expect an answer.

Featured Answers


answers from Jacksonville on

I think there is a fine line here. At the park? Yeah, that wouldn't bother me at all. Their strangers, chances are we will never see them again, so who cares? Now at school, I might see a little things differently. But...being excluded from a couple games or whatnot is one thing (no biggie) being excluded ALL the time? That would bother me.

My niece just started Kindergarten and she is new to her school system and I felt so sad for her because she would tell her mom that no one would play with her. So she just sat and watched everyone at recess. When she did finally find a couple of girls to be friends with a third girl told her she couldn't be friends with the other two, because they were HER friends. I have a problem with that, and luckily the teacher overheard and intervened.

It's one thing to say, you can't play with us right now, another to say you can't play with us EVER.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I agree with you, been a bully and not wanting to play with someone is completely different. I actually tell my son that if he doesn’t like somebody, he doesn’t have be friends with him/her, but that he can’t be rude or name call people.
Same thing with adults, if you don’t like someone else for whatever reason (looks, values, race, religion, education, etc), you don’t have to socialize with them, but it doesn’t mean you can be rude in any way without any provocation.
Just my 2 cents!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I used to lay in bed at night and daydream about a way to take my entire school hostage. When I watched the movie Carrie I sympathized with her. Honey, if I had not been born again and become a believer I might have become a totally different person and I may have lashed out against someone in a big and illegal way. I spent many years being tormented by kids who's parents did not teach them how to treat others. I only wish my parents had gotten involved. She may be going too far. But she's at least doing something!

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answers from Columbus on

I recently experienced this from the other side when my daughter (6) and her friends were at a weekend group campout. There was another girl their age who wanted to play with them, and although they did include her in some games they also wanted to do their own thing. She had a complete meltdown when they eventually walked away from her, because she couldn't take no for an answer. Her mother then went off on my daughter and her friends, calling them brats and accusing them of singling out her daughter for exclusion. In my opinion, parents who insist on having their kids included all the time just encourage the kind of self-entitled, pushy behavior that causes the other kids to want to avoid them in the first place. Kids have to learn how to work out their own problems and make their own place in the world. They benefit more from knowing their parents love them and believe in their own abilities than if the parents do for them what they need to learn to do for themselves.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I said it in the other thread people are going nuts with the term bully. I was bullied in school, I could have dug a hole and hid in it and they would have found me to torment me. I will stand by my words kids do not go up and ask to be bullied. If you ask to play and they say no you are not being bullied.

Everyone that makes your child feel bad is not a bully.

To some people that feel the need to call me a bully in PMs having a different opinion than yours doesn't make me a bully. Just because I hurt your feelings by not agreeing with you does not make me a bully.

Even though I used myself as an example I have seen the same scenario in child stories. He/she always says the opposite as my child and the teacher always sides with her, she is such a bully. Well if the teacher is agreeing with the other child on a subject it sounds like the other child is always right and your child is always wrong, again not a bully.

Not sure what is causing this but as you can tell it is starting to get on my nerves.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Not sure if your post is from one about bullying in kindergarten or not but unfortunately I see both sides (in all honestly I think your cousin is a little overboard with some of her thinking). My 1st grade daughter is having an issue with a bully on the playground. Naturally I was upset when my daughter came home and told me about this other girl (aka the bully) but since my daughter didn't seem to be bothered by it I just let it go (for my daughter's sake but inside I was fuming mad). I told my daughter to just ignore this other girl and walk away from her ... well when she did just that this other girl started to follow my daughter and continually hit her in the back. Once I learned that this other girl (aka the bully) was now hitting my daughter I took it straight to the teacher. The teacher thanked me for making her aware of the situation (especially since this bully is having other issues with other classmates) and that they'd keep an eye on things. The teacher also talked to my daughter and said that if this little girl, or anybody, hits or pushes that my daughter is to go to a teacher immediately ... bullying of this sort is not allowed at any time. I didn't want to be 'that' mom and so I kept quiet UNTIL my daughter was being hit because that in my eyes in unacceptable!!

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answers from Joplin on

Some of the posts I have read have literally turned my stomach.
There are many different ways kids can bully, and they may not have done anything about it when I was in school but they will if it is brought to their attention now.
Google exclusion bullying. The APA just concluded a 5 year long study on JUST this type of bullying.
Taken from another schools website :
There are different ways to bully someone. Each way can affect the victim.

Physical bullying includes you using your body. Examples of physical bullying are kicking, pinching, and hitting. It can also include damaging and stealing items.
Verbal bullying includes saying something about someone behind their back. It could be name-calling, teasing, threats, spreading rumors, and blackmail. This can make people scared, upset, and wonder why they are not treated as they should be. Just calling people names can break up friendships. Words can hurt, and sometimes do more harm to a person than physical bullying.

Exclusion bullying includes leaving someone out, ignoring them, or making them feel unwelcome. It is mostly when people do not allow someone else to play with them. How would you feel if someone would never let you play with him or her at recess? You would feel pretty upset probably. You may not think of that as bullying.

Damaging or taking someone elses' property is another form of bullying. It shows little respect for a person if you are fooling around with their things.

All these bullying types can hurt anyone and should be prevented. People bully for different reasons.

** all the parents who are saying this is just the "way it is" are the same parents who perpetuate this type of behavior, accept it as being "OK" as behavior in their own children and most likely bullied when they themselves were growing up. It just makes me sick.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

It is possible to bully someone by exclusion...however, it does not sound like this is the case in your situation, sounds like your cousin is being a bit overly dramatic about the whole situation.

However, I do have a friend whose son was the victim of being bullied by exclusion, by a child who also verbally bullied him. The bully in this case actually talked to all of the other boys in the class and told them that no of them should talk to, play with or even look at my friend's son. This IS exclusion bullying and should be dealt with as such. When the child said something to the teacher about it (along with the nasty name calling and so forth) the teach actually did NOTHING which is even worse.

Then on the other foot, I recently found out that evidently in the school that my daughter attends the kids are not supposed to tell another child that they don't want to be their friend. I DO think that this is taking things way to far. My daughter has a friend who is actually trying to exclude another one of my daughter's friends and my daughter has had it. She is ready to tell the girl that is being kind of mean that she does not want to be friends anymore but she is worried about getting in trouble. I told my daughter that she does not have to be friends with anyone that she does not want to be friends with and she does not have to play with anyone she does not want to play with and as long as she is nice about it, if the teacher or the school has an issue with it they need to talk to me.

Sorry, I rambled. In my opinion, strictly with the situation that you are describing, that is not bullying and your cousin is actually creating a situation that is going to make things harder on her kids. They need to learn that not everyone is going to want to play with them and that not everyone is going to want to be their friend and she needs to teach them that that is okay!

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answers from Phoenix on

Ugh. This is why kids have no clue how to live in the real world. She is being overbearing & unrealistic. You can't tell someone else's kids how to act & you need to teach your kids how to deal with adversity. I agree with you, and I tell my DD to do the same thing - find someone else to play with. She's not scarred or damaged from being rejected at the playground. I think of it this way - as an adult, I don't want to be forced to hang out with people I don't want to hang out with, and if someone doesn't want to hang out with me, I move on. Life is tough & you can't take everything personally. The sooner your kids learn to have a backbone & some self confidence, the better.

It really takes away from the kids that are ACTUALLY getting bullied & tormented every day. I am sick of the word "bully" being misused & overused every time someone's precious little snowflake isn't treated like a prince or princess. And, "bullying by exclusion" - really? Some people are just mean, and you can choose to make a big deal of it, or not. Or you can find some friends that are actually nice to you, and aren't forced to play with you because god forbid a child experienced some difficulty.

ETA - has your cousin ever thought that maybe her overbearing behavior is part of the problem? She's making her kids stand out & be different, babying & coddling them like 1 year olds & that could be ostracizing her children even further.

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answers from Chicago on

I don't think you can make a blanket statement about bullying because it all depends on the situation.

There is a girl in my daughter's class who is not nice. If she plays with my daughter she tries to take over whatever they were playing and she bosses them around. My daughter does not like her and I have told her that she doesn't have to play with her. If this girl asks my daughter if she can play and my daughter says "no" is my daughter being a bully? Certainly not! My daughter has a right to play or not play with anyone she wants. My daughter does not need to be rude, and she does not need to "get the rest of the class against this girl."

Let's not take the phrase "bullying by exclusion" and turn it into a blanket statement for every child who is excluded.

If a guy asks a girl on a date and she says "no" is she bullying the guy? By the rules, she's excluding him!

I also don't think anyone is benefitting by forcing kids to let just anyone play with them or calling them a bully if they don't agree. In my opinion, that's actually bullying your kids! You're FORCING kids to play with someone they don't want to. They can't do anything about it and you're not taking their feelings into consideration. Isn't that the definition of a bully? Forcing someone to do something? Probably we should just teach our kids how to nicely and gracefully tell other kids "no" and give our kids the tools to deal with rejection. Sometimes that means reflecting on what they can do to change--or finding a new set of kids to play with.

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answers from Buffalo on

I agree with Jo W 100%... if someone makes you feel bad or doesn't give you what you want, that in itself is not bullying.

She's not helping her child learn to cope in the "real" world...she shelters and manipulates his world for him. Its sad they won't let him play, but It doesn't sound like the child is being physically hurt or being made fun of or taunted. Those instances should be used as an learning opportunity for the child being excluded. To learn how to treat others. And to learn that they are special and important individuals, but that sometimes not everyone can be included in everything. Also that not everyone in life will want to be your friend. Children have to learn to stand up for themselves & work out their own problems (as long as its nothing too serious/dangerous, which this isn't!) and, more importantly, have enough self-esteem to know its ok if they aren't included in everything and ok if they can't get everything they want!

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answers from Cleveland on

Though I can completely understand where your cousin is coming from (I mean, who wants to see their child have hurt feelings?!?), I agree with you. No one should be forced to play with someone else if they don't want to. Yes, it would be nice for the kids to all get along and include others because it's "the right thing to do" but I don't think it should be parentally (or adult) supervised. I think kids need to have space to figure out some of these things on their own, and in my case, I made friends with other kids who weren't included, and though they were a small group, they were the nicer kids anyway.

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answers from Los Angeles on

This "bully" thing has gotten out of control at my school too. we have parents complaining of bullying for that same type of behavior.
True, it's mean to tell some one they can't play with you. Of course I wouldn't allow my kids to act that way or want them to be treated that way. But move on- they are not bullying you! Just find some one nice to play with.

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answers from Redding on

Bullying by exclusion? That's just lame. I've excluded a lot of people in my lifetime because I dont want to play with them..... I think that's stretching it.
Girls, especially, do this. The outsider gets their feeling hurt, but I think it's part of life. We dont live in bubbles and have to learn to roll with the punches on occasion. Bullying is when someone picks on you continually or verbally abuses you continually.

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answers from Detroit on

She can't go around fighting all her son's battles and waging war against all the kids who are not "playing fair". I am with you - I would just tell DD to go find another kid to play with if some kid or group of kids did not want to play with her (happened today as a matter of fact - DD went up to another girl at the playground, asked her to play, other girl did not want to, she was there with another friend. DD was bummed about it for about a minute, told me the other girl didn't want to be her friend - I told her, so don't worry about it, find someone else. So she did.). It's teaching her not to take in personally, to toughen up a little bit and not it get to her, and to figure out her own solutions.

The kids at the playground that didn't want your cousin's son to play probably came as a group to the playground already and were already friends with each other, and while it would have been nice of them to include someone new, nothing says they HAVE to. I'd like to know how your cousin thinks the city is supposed to find people (paid or volunteer) to act as watchdogs at the park to make kids play nice with each other - like other parents are really going to appreciate someone else telling their kid how to play with other kids. I agree too that the terms "bully" and "bullying" are overused - bullying is repeatedly using physical, verbal or other tactics (threats, manipulation, etc.) to intimidate another individual. It's not the random kid at a playground not wanting to play with another random kid. It's nice that we are more aware and more sensitive to the issue of bullies compared to when I was a kid, but some people seem to be taking it too far and blowing typical real-world kid behavior out of proportion.

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answers from Redding on

Well, I think if it's a public park and a group of kids are playing a game and they are reticent about accepting every other kid into the game, that's not the same as bullying.
I always tried to teach my kids to share and be nice, but they didn't HAVE to share their toys or include a child they didn't know if they didn't want to.
As an example....those little velcro paddles you wear on your hand and toss a ball back and forth that sticks. I had two kids. Two paddles. If a child came up and wanted to play, sometimes one of my kids would offer theirs and go to the slide or whatever, but not always, and I didn't feel I had to make them. It wasn't about being mean or not including the other child. There was certainly nothing "bullying" about it. I didn't feel my kids should have to quit playing with each other and give up one of their toys for a child we don't know to play with our toys.
If a parent approached me and told me I wasn't being fair, I'd tell her to bring toys and invite other children, not expect the other way around.
If it's a situation at school, all kids should be allowed to take turns doing different things. The teacher is the one who should oversee that.
Public parks and play areas are different.
All kids should be allowed to take turns on the equipment in the park, but there is nothing that says all children should include all other children in their play.
If your cousin gets all militant about it, especially at a public park, people who take their kids to get them out of the house for some enjoyable play may just start leaving as soon as they see her coming.

There is a bullying problem. No doubt. But, I think it's wrong to assume that EVERY situation is a bullying issue.

Just my opinion.

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answers from Charlotte on

I think you should read this thread. And I think you should have a little bit of compassion for your cousin's child.

Added: Bless you, Betsy C.
And 3BoysUnder3, I just have to say this: these girls who treated you this way - how do you think they got that way? They started out when they were young excluding other kids and being mean to them on the playground. No one made them stop, and they ended up escalating it so much that they treated you that way. If someone would have stood up to them when they were younger and disciplined them, you wouldn't have had to go through this.


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answers from Dallas on

Everyone thinks their kids are great and that everyone else should love them and want to be around them, which is the way it should be. However the reality is not everyone else is going to agree your kid is great or want to be around them. If you teach your kids to expect the same response from peers that they get from you (unconditional love and acceptance) you are setting them up to be very disappointed. Instead teach your kids that not everyone will be their friend, and that's ok. You still need to be respectful of each other, but they don't have to be your friend just like you don't have to be their friend either.

It's great to encourage your kids to ask other kids at a playground if they can join in. It's not great if they say no to then call them bully's and insist they let your kids play with them. Look at it this way... You are at a coffee shop with a friend. A stranger walks up, sits down, and joins your conversation uninvited then begins to call you names when you respectfully ask them to find another table. You wouldn't tolerate someone acting like that toward you, why is it ok to act like that towards kids?

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answers from Kansas City on

if you are then i am too! unless the kid is being physically abusive or really snotty and getting other kids to gang up, then i say let them work it out.

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answers from San Francisco on

This is the fourth question on this topic I have answered within a few minutes. I agree with you. We need to teach our kids that they are capable of dealing with a little adversity, or they won't be able to handle life!

No, exclusion is not the same as bullying, unless the person gets the whole school against you. Actually, my best friend did that to me in 9th grade, and it wasn't fun, but I survived it. And I've forgiven her, and she's still my friend, 40 years later.

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answers from New York on

I tend to agree with you on that example. Not every kid is going to get invited to play every game. I tell my son (5) "Some kids are mean, play with someone else." I also tell him you don't have to be best friends with everyone, just be polite.

There is such a thing as bullying by exclusion but it is more extreme than your example. If 1 or a few kids are purposely excluding one child and trying to turn others against him or her as well as other mean things specifically directed at that child, it is bullying by exclusion. You need to look for a pattern, not just a one time thing.

There is a book written by a Kindergarten teacher called You Can't Say You Can't Play. She made that a classroom rule and managed to make her classroom kinder and more inclusive. It's a nice idea in some ways. But if an adult in authority isn't teaching and reinforcing this rule I doubt kids will come to it on their own. Also, it isn't common in the real world so far.

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answers from Cleveland on

For me what gets me about your post is the age of the children. In preschool, child should be taught and encouraged to be friendly to everyone. To not exclude others for any reason. This is how we teach children not to be bully's later on. Older kids, I think it's different and more to the point of what you are saying. Kids have actual friends, they lie this person because they have things in common and don't talk to this person because they don't. This isn't being a bully, it's life, we all don't like or associate with everyone. Even in 3rd grade I'd be concerned if kids were excluding my DD all the time, but I don't hesitate to tell my middle schooler that he has his own friends and if he doesn't want to do whatever with one for some reason then he should just go do something else. At his age I'm not worried until it does get hurtful or dangerous. But remember to, that exclusion for a little kid, can be hurtful, just as hurtful as being called a name.

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answers from Austin on

I see a difference between groups of kids at a park and groups of kids at school. At a public park, the kids didn't come there together, don't know each other, they can bring their own toys, and the parents have a choice to take them home at any time or go to a different park. At school, the kids share the same space every day and do not have the option to leave if someone's bothering them, and the teachers are supposed to be guiding them to have good social skills as part of their overall education.

I have no problem with one kid asking to play and the other saying they don't want to. But they could learn a polite way to say no.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I tell my son that he doesn't have to like everyone but he does have to respect everyone, and that in 99.9% of situations, the other kids have just as much right to be there as he does.

Frankly, your cousin sounds a tad over the edge. I'm not sure to what degree her kid is being excluded, and I'm sure it's hard to watch over and over again if it is happening all the time.

If my son wanted to play with (or be friends with) someone that an exclusion bully dictator told him not to--he'd laugh in his/her face. I try to foster a spirit of original thought in my kid and he would see that for what it was--bullying. He wouldn't buy it. He's not a sheep who does what other kids tell him to do.

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answers from Dayton on

I am a pre-K teacher, and I think it benefits kids to have them try to work out their relationships on their own. Of course, sometimes that means helping kids by helping them find the words they want to say or to figure out which relationships are worth working for. In my class, I CONSTANTLY have kids tattling that so-and-so won't play with me. I will not force a kid to play with someone. Instead I try to help the child figure out how to be friendly with others or how to tenderly figure out why they don't want to play. Kids should be taught to handle rejection ultimately. But it sounds like your cousin is taking her kids' rejection personally and she is not doing her kids any favors. And no, telling someone they can't play is not bullying. More likely her kids are socially backward due to their overbearing mom and the others pick up on it. There will always be birthday parties they are not invited to, cliques they will be left out of, games they are not included in. It is a part of life and the sooner kids learn to let go and move on, the better.

And if people think you are a bully for your views, then I am too. But then again, I would think that calling someone out like that for their views in that way is poor manners anyway, so take it with a grain of salt.

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answers from San Francisco on

This is one of the ways grownups bully by exclusion so why would it be okay to teach our children that it is okay and not learn to word things in a nicer way? Sure, they don't know and have to be reminded, but isn't that what parents are for?

I was in a situation about 3 years ago at school where a group was gathered, I was talking to a person and a woman came up stood infront of me interrupted my conversation and started talking about a party that everyone in the class (literally, it was funny) was invited to except me and my daughter. I thought it was surreal/odd and didn't care much until one of the girls asked my daughter if she was going to this party. The kids WEREN'T excluding her, they were actually confused as to why she wasn't going. The teacher called them into class who had a strict no talking about parties or excluding policy. I quickly reminded my daughter that sometimes we can't invite everyone and that I thought it was at a pool club we don't belong to so it was okay. She was fine, we've joked since she was little about only having so much room and wanting to invite everyone and of course no one can do that.

It made me sad because the same people who complain about bullying are the same ones who blatantly do this. The kids had a strong sense of community because of an awesome K/1 teacher but I wondered how long could it last with that at home?

So where do you think these kids learn this? I knew that eventually this woman would burn many bridges, and she has. She made a few people uncomfortable in that go around that they ended up declining to go to the party. One of the parents even went out of their way to personally invite every child in class through their parent to an afterschool playdate. My daughter is well liked, not "popular" but has a few great friends and is well thought of at school so generally I think these things work out. Certainly not everyone or even a majority are like this (fortunately quite the opposite) but it makes you realize where it comes from, by either example or acceptance.

ETA: No I DON'T think everyone has to talk to everyone, invite everyone to everything and you are right, kids aren't going to say this in the nicest way. Kids NEED to be taught how to tactful and respectful. There is a difference in saying, "I'm sorry we started this game and want to finish." and yelling, "WE DON'T WANT TO PLAY WITH YOU" YOU CAN seek out and torement someone with words including flaunting an exclusion to a group or activity. Just as as an adult I don't talk about a party or something I'm hosting in a group of friends/acquaintances where some are and some aren't invited.

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answers from New York on

I didn't read all the responses but I agree with you. I just don't think it's practical to expect kids to play with everyone. It's not going to happen as they grow up. Slights may become less obvious but they will be there. Kids who are being excluded may be doing something they need to change. Or they need to learn they won't be included in everything. I wasn't as a kid. It's life. I do teach my kids to try to include everyone though. There's a difference between my making my kids allow someone to play with them than me expecting other kids to always play with my kids. I feel both are teaching moments. One is that other people aren't always nice and just move on to other people and the other is that even if other people aren't always nice, we can try to be. I agree too that a child being told "no, you can't play with us right now" is not being bullied. That child can walk away and find something else to do or other people to play with. Somehow my school growing up had nice kids. Kids who didn't interject themselves into groups that didn't want them were left alone. There were not many times that a kid who wasn't doing anything wrong was a target. That I consider bullying.


answers from Dallas on

Your question this morning made me want to find this thread and read it!

I definitely agree with you. I think your cousin is going a bit overboard. That being said, I TOTALLY see why it hurts her when her child is excluded from playing with other kids. Being a mom is like wearing your heart on your sleeve, and so it makes sense she doesn't want her child to be hurt.

But those kids aren't bullies at all. If anything, they are being disrespectful and rude. But a bully is someone who is actually trying to bully a person. I could see it being viewed as bully behavior IF there was other behavior to go along with it, such as name calling or getting dominating and up in the child's face, etc. But just telling a child they don't want them to play is not being a bully.

I have very rarely seen my kids tell another kid that they can't play with them, and if I see it, and if they were rude, I immediately jump on that. I don't yell at them or anything, but I talk with them positively and do the "You know how it feels when you want to play with someone and they don't want to play with you? That's how you are making this little person feel." And usually that's enough for them to fix the situation. I can literally only think of one time and that's it. (not including times between themselves!) Usually they are inviting new people over to play with them - it makes me so happy!

At the same time, I don't want them to feel like they HAVE to play with every kid. Sometimes it would be nice to just play with their best friend, or whoever. In those cases, I think teaching them a respectful, friendly way to tell a child no would be appropriate (though if telling them no means the kid is left alone with no one to play with...I would encourage them to play!).

If someone doesn't want to play with my child, I will go and happily encourage my child to go play in another super fun part of the of the playground. Or, if my child wants to play in the same area, I will stand close by and make sure the kids don't try to banish my child away. The playground is open for everyone, and I won't allow them to prevent my child from playing. But I will not try to force them to play with my kid. And, when dealing with kids, I think it's best to approach it positively and encouraging as much as possible. I wouldn't be mean to the kids that didn't want to play with my kids. I might say "Oh, you're missing out on a lot of fun! My child is so fun to play with!" Or something.

Anyway, long answer...but yes, your cousin is taking it a bit far. Instead of teaching her child about the (sad) reality of life that not everyone is nice, she is trying to literally force kids to play with her kids. Not realistic in my opinion. Though, I do think kids should always be respectful and polite no matter what they choose to do. And, I think as parents, it's our job to teach that to them.

I'll stop rambling now.

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