Playdate etiquette

snookumsAugust 4, 2006

Gosh, girls can be so NASTY to each other.

I have a 6 year old daughter who has a friend that she's always had a love/hate relationship with. I think it's because they are very similar to each other and so clash, rather than complement each other.

We had said friend over for a playdate yesterday. Basically, it was a total disaster that left both girls in tears and my daughter telling her friend that she wanted her to go home.

A recent playdate at this friends house I think resulted in something similar, including my daughter calling me at home several times asking me to come pick her up.

Yet these two BEG to play with each other!

One of the issues yesterday was sharing. My daughter didn't want her friend playing with certain toys. Normally she's a gem at sharing! Next time (IF there is a next time with this other girl), I'm going to have her choose certain toys before the playdate starts that she doesn't want to share and we'll put those away, with the understanding that everything else is open for sharing.

A typical conversation heard yesterday:

(In the pool)

E: Let's play with these noodles.

A: Nah, I don't want to. Noodles are boring.

E: Well then I guess you're not my friend.

(E gets out of the pool and tells me that A is not being nice.)

(In the playroom)

E: Let's play with the Stylin' Head (Barbie).

A: Okay, let's put this in her hair.

E: NOOOO you're going to ruin it! Don't touch it!

A: Let's play with these My Little Pony's.

E: Okay, this is the 5 year old and this is the 6 year old (A is 5 and E is 6).

A: NO! I want to be the 6 year old! (tears)

E: I'm the 6 year old! You have to be the 5 year old! (tears)

Just a few examples. In each instance I was right there and attempted to intervene with distractions, mediation, etc...NOTHING worked with these two. E eventually went into her room and sulked and I took A downstairs to play with me until her mom got there. Then when her mom got there, they both said sorry and hugged and asked for a SLEEPOVER! AHHH! Just kill me now!

Does anyone have any other tips for me?

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cupofkindness

What a tough situation! Are they in the same grade? Same school? First, I would spell it out to both girls, with the prior approval of the other mom (who sounds very kind and understanding), that if they can't play in a cooperative and respectful way, they can not visit one another for a while, say one month. I'd also cut down the amount of time they spend together. Start with just an hour. Or, if it's going to be longer, count on a walk around the neighborhood (with you of course), food (they could help you make lunch or bake a snack), make a craft, or a video. And putting away toys that are not to be shared is a great idea.

The obvious thing to do might also be to expand your DD's circle of friends to include different personalities. But there is so much to be gained by working through the difficulties presented in this friendship. And remember, these girls are very young, and if it doesn't work just let the friendship go for now. I think it might be a mistake to teach children that friendships should last forever. They should last as long as they are good good to one another. Especially girls need to let go of bad relationships when their "friends" start treating them poorly. It can get pretty ugly. Your daugher is very fortunate to have a mother so in tune with her social life. Your concern will serve you both very well in the teen years.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 12:07PM
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Mimou-GW

Are you familiar with social stories? They are often used as a tool to teach social and communication skills.It is just a short story you develop and illustrate. It describes what people do and say and why in given situations. Some people use a comic strip version. Positively state desired behaviors. Write it from a first person perspective as though DD is describing the event. There are some specific guidlines for writing these (not too many directive sentences, more desciptive and/or perspective sentences). I was skeptical of this technique at first but if you introduce the story and explain how it will be used then read through it a couple of times and then maybe go over it again before play dates or with the two girls together at the beginning of a play date you may see positive behavior changes. Good Luck!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 12:46PM
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snookums

cupofkindness - yes, same grade, same school, and all of the same dance classes too. They were in preschool together as well. They see each other entirely way too much and because of that, these issues don't just occur during playdates, but at school and even during dance classes as well. Last Monday my daughter just upped and walked out of her tap class because A looked at her "mean." We talked and I got her to go back in, and then later they both got a talking to by the instructor for goofing off. It's just so unpredictable with the two of them. But the one thing that is predictable is that they are either glued to each other at the hip or fighting with each other.

I've been rather leery with the playdate thing (I mean, why drag on the drama?) but both girls keep asking AND the other mom keeps asking...eventually I cave.

Nan - do you have a link to a website about that method (social stories)? I'd like to read up more about it.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 1:37PM
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Mimou-GW

Snookums, the link I have deals with social stories for autistic kids. But don't let that freak you out. SS were originally developed for students with autism but are applicable to any kid that may need a little help in social situations. It can't hurt to try it. We have stories about waiting, personal space and eating out that have worked wonders for our 5 year old.

Here is a link that might be useful: writing social stories

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 1:56PM
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sweeby

Nan - I'm SO glad you brought up social stories! They're wonderful tools -- very instructional and non-judgemental. My younger son is on the autism spectrum, which is how we found them, but they're great, if a bit simplistic, for 'typical' kids also. Sometimes a kid just doesn't know the right way to handle a situation, and social stories can teach appropriate solutions.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 2:25PM
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