Neighborhood Kids Don't Play with DD Anymore

Updated on November 17, 2014
D.C. asks from Port Saint Lucie, FL
9 answers

I've posted something similar about this a couple months ago. My heart is breaking for DD7. As my previous post mentioned, she used to be the #1 friend for another girl in the neighborhood who is 1.5 years younger than her. That little girl was ALWAYS over, to the point of it actually being annoying. As in, the second we would get home from somewhere, there she was walking down the street. DD7 loved it though...but I will admit that their friendship wasn't always smooth sailing in part a lot to DD's very intense, controlling personality. But she is also very creative, funny and high spirited.

A couple months ago I started noticing the other little girl starting to play more and more with 2 other girls in the neighborhood, who are even younger. I also want to mention that me and the girl's mom used to be close but had a falling out a year ago, we've since kind of smoothed things over but I know there is still lingering resentment.

Well now the little girl doesn't come over at all. It's almost as if her mom has told her to not come down anymore...not sure if that's true but I can't help but think that sometimes because for her to go from our house being her #1 go-to, to not coming down at all, seems a little unusual for a 5 year old to do that on her own.

Honestly, I like that she's not right there the second we get home and I also like that DD is starting to play a lot more with younger DD. They've really developed a sweet relationship (most of the time!)

But I can't shake these lingering feelings of sadness because it's like DD lost her little best friend. She doesn't ever really talk about why the little girl doesn't come over anymore, but she definitely realizes that they're no longer close. I know it seems silly since they're so young and I've been stepping up having playdates and inviting girls DD's age over, which I know really helps. But when I see the other girl running to someone else's house my heart still sinks. I wish it wasn't all or nothing, for my DD's sake.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

My best friend has actually been my same best friend since I was 3. She lived across the street from me until we graduated high school and we grew up together, were maids of honor in each other's weddings, threw each other baby showers, etc. I am also still very close with a guy friend whose family lived next door to ours (and his parents still do) since I was in 1st grade. But that's probably unusual in this day and age.

I know it is probably bothering me more than DD but I know that it does bother DD at times as well, how could it not? Our doorbell used to always be ringing and now it's silent. It makes it harder that there aren't other kids in the neighborhood for her to play with, which is why I've been stepping up inviting kids from school over. And like yesterday we met a good friend and her 2 kids out for a playdate and lunch and DD loves her daughter, but they live almost an hour away!

Also, like Nervy Girl mentioned with having similar issues with a neighborhood mom and not wanting her son to go over to her house anymore, I kind of feel the same way. I'm very hesitant to let DD go down to the neighbor's house because it's hard feeling comfortable with her being down there when I know the mom has resentment towards me (yet is sweet as pie to my face). But that's hard for her too because they basically used to go freely back and forth from one house to the other.

But there's really nothing to do about it except to try to let it go and move on and keep trying to expand DD's social circle!

More Answers



answers from Washington DC on

I remember the earlier post well.

Please let this go. This is going to happen again and again for both your girls: Other kids will be their best best buddies then drift away. Or your own girls will be the ones who drift away. It is normal and natural. You are the one mourning the loss of what seems to you to be the first sweet little friendship your older girl had; but she, herself, is not mourning it as you are, so you need to let it go; she has. She isn't asking and asking for the other girl to come play, or talking about the other all, really, right?

It's great that you are having playdates and engaging her more with girls her age. The gap in maturity and interests between 5 and a half and seven is larger than you might think, and this young neighbor might well have been absolutely fascinated with your daughter a short while back and absolutely fascinated with someone else no. It is typical and not a reflection on your child or a case of the younger neighbor being mean; she's being five, and at five kids get very intense about something then can drop it suddenly. And I think you suspect that the parents might have somehow pushed her away from your daughter...? Even if they did, it might merely come from their directing her toward playmates who are either closer to her own age (which you too are doing with your own child) or directing her toward playmates who have interests closer to hers than maybe your child does right now. Or neither, and the girl simply stopped asking to see your child because she moved on to play with others.

Please find a way to shake this because if you can't, you as a mom will be hurt for your kids over and over as they grow up. Yes, we all get hurt for our kids, but this is such a typical and normal separation that it really doesn't merit this amount of mental and emotional space that you're giving it. You've grieved this, now try to focus on the new friendships.

If you get this heartbroken each time this bittersweet but normal thing happens, you will be truly crushed if she has real issues later with friends, like bullying or "frenemies." Let's hope those things won't happen, but if they ever do, she needs you to be resilient.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Kids who are 5, 6, 7 etc. don't really have lasting best friends most of the time. They have close friendships born of convenience - same neighborhood, same carpool, same classroom, same scout troop, whatever. The maturity difference between a 5 year old and a 7 year old can be huge. They grow up, they develop different interests, they develop personalities that don't necessarily sync any longer with someone else in a very different place emotionally and developmentally.

It honestly seems that you are having a much harder time here than your daughter. You've made the assumption that the mother has engineered this - when maybe the kids just aren't that much alike. Maybe the mother picked up that you were annoyed. Who knows? Even if your daughter is missing this neighbor, why are you all not moving forward to new friendships and play dates? Think ahead to her life at 9 or 13 or 16. Do you want her moping around because a friend is no longer interested? Do you want her to be pining away because her first crush boyfriend likes someone else? Do you want her to be locked into playing with someone she doesn't enjoy any more? Do you want her to take it so personally every time 2 kids drift apart?

Did you have a very best friend when you were her age? Did you keep that friendship up for many years? Or did something happen to you where a friendship was broken up and you are still lamenting that loss?

This obsession with this neighbor girl is not healthy for you or for you daughter. It's one kid. Yes, it's kind of a crazy compliment when someone is around all the time, adoring your daughter. But that isn't how healthy relationships are formed. Friendships are like clothing. You try stuff on and see what fits. After a while, what used to fit doesn't fit anymore. So you try on something else. Please let your daughter try on new friendships and expand her social circle without relying only on a 5 year old or a younger sibling all the time.

Please move on and stop being heartbroken over every change in your daughter's friendships. There are probably a dozen kids in her classroom or her Sunday school or the Brownie troop or the soccer team who would love to enjoy your daughter. Let them.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Salinas on

Kids take this stuff differently than adults, it sounds like it's hurting you more than it's hurting her.

I know it's hard but you are going to have to toughen up. Trust me it will get a lot harder as she grows up. Wait until MS and HS friend problems, it can be insane! The vast majority of the time all a Mom can do is be supportive, listen and wait for the tide to turn. Having two girls, the youngest being 12, our family has decide that 7th grade sucks!

So just let her guide you, listen when she wants to talk, offer advice when she asks or really seems to need it and finally having a little ice cream on hand never hurts.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I promise you that your daughter is getting over this way more quickly than you are so PLEASE let it go. Kids' friendships aren't like adults, even if they play together for many years they can suddenly be "done" and move on, quite quickly.
This won't be the last time this kind of thing happens so try not to take it so personally, they are only children after all!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Please let this go. Frankly, if I'd had a falling out with another parent, it's likely that I wouldn't want my kid at their house. This actually happened recently and the strange behavior on the part of that other parent made it so that I do not trust them, nor would I want their child to be at my house, where any little thing could be misinterpreted. There is NO way my son would be over at her home. They can be 'school friends' if they like, but sometimes there's collateral damage when the adults have a disagreement.

I think you need to move on. It may be that the little friend finds it easier to be friends with other kids where she's not being bossed around. I'm not saying it doesn't hurt, but the best thing you can do is just encourage other friendships with kids her own age and facilitate that. The previous posters have all given you good advice. If you still find these sorts of situations distressing for you, I'd suggest talking to a counselor and working through it. I found that while the disagreement between myself and the other parent was predicated on her being off her meds and having a lot of issues, I was relieved, too, to find out sooner than later. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

friendships come and go. you just can't let yourself get all caught up in them, and you certainly don't want your 'lingering feelings of sadness' to affect your daughter. this is perfectly normal. what WASN'T normal was a super-close friendship between little girls that far apart in age. while that's nothing to think twice about later in life, for kids under 8 it's very very unusual to find besties with that much of an age gap. it sounds like it was much more of a proximity friendship, and if your daughter, the older one, tends to be bossy, it's all the more predictable that it had a very limited shelf-life.
her mom probably HAS influenced it, especially if the two of you had words. but even without out, most moms will encourage their kids to seek out friendships with kids their own age, and ones who aren't especially controlling. this isn't a slap to your daughter. it's great that she's playing with her own sister. now you just put yourself out there a little more to help her develop friendships with classmates.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Friendships come and go. Even the ones you think will last forever don't always. Just be there to support your daughter when times get rough for her...take her for a nice girls day every now and then.

But this is not the first time this will happen. She will get over it sooner if she doesn't see you worried about it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I would not let it bother you. Kids sometimes click and sometimes don't and really, it is no big deal. If you think your daughter wishes for a friend, why don't you call and invite over a little friend that is her own age from preschool or dance class or whatever activity your daughter does. I have noticed from the many neighborhood kids, that the different kids and different age groups sometimes play together and sometimes do not. You say your daughter has an intense, controlling personality. Perhaps it was too much for that other, younger girl and she wasn't really enjoying playing with her. My daughter (age 5) is 1.5 years younger than the girl across the street that, while being a nice girl, is quite intense/controlling/bossy. My daughter is nice to her but really dislikes playing with her. She will sometimes play but then tells me afterwards...I did not like how she talked to me. I did not like how she was telling me what to do!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

It may also just be that the friendship ran its course for now. Bear in mind that you will see a LOT of this in middle school, so just keep being positive and not worry so much about where the girl is or isn't playing if DD has other friends. I see on FB all the time that other friends got together and did not call me, and I can either choose to be hurt over social media or I can find someone else to "play with". Try not to project your problems with the mother on the kids. When a parent AND their kids are compatible with my family, huzzah! But often that is not the case.

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