Tagalong friend problem

PookiesmomOctober 28, 2007

My third grade son just sprung this problem on us at the dinner table tonight.

It seems he befriended a second grade boy on the playground this autumn and they play alot together during recess. Apparently my son is beginning to feel smothered because this boy wants to play with him exclusively. My son would rather have more freedom over whom he plays with. He has tried to tell this boy in a nice way that he wants to play with other kids but the other child still tags along.

My son is getting frustrated and claims he thinks his next option is to be mean to this child, since he thinks that is the only way to "shake" him. I told him it was good to ask us to help him come up with other choices of ways to handle this one. I think calling the parents is an option of last resort, preferring my son to try to work out with this boy. But I can see he is struggling and I am at a loss of what to say beyond...it is not ok to be deliberately mean, yadda yadda.

Any ideas?

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You know, Pookiesmom, I think you are certainly on the right road of communication, with your son. To have a close relationship with him, that he feels it is the right thing to talk to his mum about a problem he has, thats a real golden moment. I hope you encourage this, and make it a good habit. You must be a good listener, and I congratulate you !

I think your son definitely has to stick to his guns, about his insistence of playing with other children.

If he just presents a front of passive friendliness, I am sure over time this kid will get fed up, or bored, and seek other things to do.

I mean, things like, don't engage in chat with him, beyond, short one-word answers. But maintain politeness.

Don't ask him anything.

Perhaps he should just say "I am going to play over here, with my friends now, and you will have to go and play in the sandpit ".

Its really tricky this situation, because we want our children to be kind, compassionate and inclusive in their play. But sometimes, some children, exceed the boundaries, and quite frankly, they wear out their welcome. I think its important for THEM to get the message, in a nice way, or as nice as possible, that they need to learn social boundaries.

I think calling the parents is not something that will give a good outcome. In fact it could cause more upset to more people.

I try to work on the theory that empowering our children, to deal with situations, themselves, is my first port of call. Its all invaluable experience for them.

Let us know how you get on.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 3:11AM
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I'm with Popi with her response, how great he brought it up with you. I also think it would be best to not bring it up with the parents, for one thing your son is learning social skills by having to deal with this type of situation, and the tagalong's parents very well may not believe you at all and think it is your son who's the problem - since I've experienced some 'my little angel would never behave that way' parents in my travels. But you know, over time if this doesn't change you may need to intervene, perhaps speaking to a teacher so that the teachers/assistants that are on playground duty can be conveniently close by occasionally to give the tagalong other suggestions, or introduce tagalong to alternate kids to play with, thus taking a bit of the weight off your 9 year olds shoulders, since this could be a big task for him. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 11:05AM
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I agree, too -- you are handling this great!

I also agree with the other posters that this is a terrific opportunity for your son to learn some rather tricky and delicate social skills -- this kind of issue still arises with adults, you know! -- and that it will work best if you let HIM figure it out. Well, actually, him and the other kidz -- this involves all of them.

"I am at a loss of what to say beyond...it is not ok to be deliberately mean, yadda yadda." I think you've put your finger on it right there. Don't say ANYTHING beyond that. In other words, remind him that kindness and good character are always imperative, and then stop before going on to give specific advice. "I can see you have a really difficult problem on your hands, and it's going to be hard to figure out how to handle this. Grownups have trouble with this, too, you know! But I am sure you can do it. I know however you decide to handle it, you will be kind and respectful of [tagalong's] feelings."

My kidz are 18 and 21, and I have trouble holding back, too. But I try to keep my mouth shut and just reflect back what I am hearing from them -- sort of helping them frame the question -- and then telling them that I am sure they will figure it out. And I feel so proud when they do!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 2:29PM
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REFLECT...that's a great technique to develop in listening, as Gellchom rightly suggested. Using this technique helps any person come to solutions for their own problems.

Often, I think, people (parents!) fall into the trap of "solving" our children's problems, when in fact all we should be doing is listening, reflecting, asking questions and encouraging. These are all positive words.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 6:13PM
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My stepdaughter is in third grade and is on the other side of this problem. Her teacher told me that she was doing the same thing. She was being possessive of one of her classmates. My stepdaughter also told me that it was upsetting her that her new friend had two other friends that were always trying to take her new friend away from her. In our situation, my stepdaughter was new at the school and the new friend had been going to school with her other friends for a few years already.

It might be a good idea to call the parents and talk to them. Maybe you can find out if their child has had this problem before. I did get a call from another parent but it was put bluntly, "can you please keep your daughter away from mine" and that was a little harsh. Some children have a harder time learning how to socialize and they can have problems with boundaries. I was able to use the teacher's input, my step daughter's input and the parent that called me's input to sit down with my step daughter and talk to her about how to make friends. We talked about "trying to hard" or setting boundaries and thinking about how other people feel. It has helped and she doesn't seem to be having as much difficulty. If the parent's of the 2nd grader recognize there is a problem, they can address it. It sure beats the 2nd grader feeling like an outcast because nobody ever tells him that his approach is creating a problem.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 1:55AM
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