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Sometimes my kids (11 and 6) just want to spend time with friends they feel closer with whom they don’t get as much opportunity to play.
My neighbor’s kid comes over every day to play uninvited and she has a dominating personality and can sometimes be controlling, and the kids sometimes feel smothered by her. I’ve told mine that it’s fine if they just want to play with certain friends sometimes, but not to say no every single time. The friends they’re close with don’t particularly like having her around either. Yesterday afternoon the neighbor’s kid came and asked if she could play with everyone, and I told her they were spending some time just them for a while, but maybe another day.
That’s after my daughter had played with her all morning. Well, she ended up hanging out in her yard giving nasty looks and accused the other kids of lying to her all week about not being able to play because one of them was sick. She even wrote a note saying that it wasn’t fair that they were playing with my kids. The way she kept spying on my kids was so odd. It appears she’s not used to being told no by her parents either.
We want our kids to feel secure enough to know that if someone doesn’t want to play with you all the time, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you. As adults, we don’t invite all of our mutual friends over at the same time. Sometimes one mutual friend will make special plans with another, and we won’t be included, and that’s okay. It’s just hard because we are the only parents in the neighborhood who aren’t forcing kids to include each other all the time.
Do you think it’s okay for kids to “exclude” others during play? How can you draw the line at kids playing with everyone but still not come off as mean? I’m struggling with this.
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It can be very difficult to navigate childhood friendships, especially when we are trying to ensure that our kids grow up learning to be kind and inclusive. At the same time, even as adults, we know that we do not always like every person we socialise with and that we have some people with whom we prefer spending more time.
In your case, it sounds to me as if the problem is not so much the friendship and playing as it is about boundaries. Your neighbor's child obviously feels extremely comfortable and confident in your home, but the result is that they are sometimes overstepping the boundaries. If your neighbour is approachable, reach out and try to set some rules in place that give your child the chance to build and cement other friendships while still spending time with their neighbor friend. You can set aside some dates for just the two kids to play together and others where the little neighbor can join in on other playdates. A whiteboard with play times clearly outlined can help manage the process.
Our kids need to learn to set healthy boundaries, which will be important as they enter their teen and adult years. This can however be done with kindness and grace to ensure that all the kids involved feel valued.
Very tricky indeed. I'm an inclusive kind of guy. I always want every kid to be involved in any activity we are doing. But my son often has different opinions on the matter. Mostly though, I just judge the situation. Is a kid being excluded because other kids are being mean to them or is that kid being mean to others? It's really hard to know. So I usually lean to the side of "better safe than sorry" and I just include everyone. Usually any pettiness falls away after a few minutes of playing. If there is any further conflict then maybe that's when a conversation about the potential of exclusion in future playdates needs to happen. But most kids work it out. And often forget why they were excluding someone in the first place. If there's a bad seed though that you don't want your kid to play with, that's a whole other story.
This is quite tricky. Sometimes it's okay for kids to want time to themselves but it's important to help find a balance. We want our kids to play together with other kids as much as possible. For them to feel equally loved, supported, and included. I mean the benefits are quite significant.
However, in this case, your neighbor's kid is making it hard for her peers to develop inclusive attitudes due to her behavioral difficulties. Feeling excluded is not nice but she's also not making it easier for her friends to feel comfortable when around her. I like that you gave her the option of playing with your kids some other time.
There are adults who choose to reprimand such kids in front of their friends and unfortunately, this can influence how they further treat her. When you invite her next, you may observe how they all relate with each other and try to make it fun and comfortable for all.
Gosh, that's a hard one. I came from a neighborhood where all of the kids played together all of the time. It was the same for my kids in their neighborhood. Now my grandkids live in neighborhoods where large groups of children play together. It is fun times for all of them. With that being said, my granddaughter has had hurt feelings when 2 of the girls exclude her. So it is a difficult balance to make everyone happy all of the time. There certainly are days when "besties" may want to play together without the big group. Especially if one child is disruptive, overbearing or hard to get along with. I think it is fine for kids to have play dates together. If another child comes over to play, explain that now is not a good time but perhaps set up another time to get together. That way the child who is left out at least knows that they will be included at some point and have an opportunity to be a part of the fun.