Friday, June 25, 2010

Twos company Threes a Crowd or is it a Party?

I am feeling frazzled so though I should do some sewing or knitting today I shall blog while the girls sleep.

On Fridays we attend mothers group. Until quite recently Rainbow has been happy doing her own thing or playing with me but recently she has wanted to play with the others. Time and time again she'll go and try to join in with the girls or ask one of the girls if she wants to do something. (Like today she asked a girl pushing a pram if she could be her baby's doctor.) And time and time again she gets rejected - at best ignored more often "No, You can't play, Go Away" I've been trying to help Rainbow out saying things like "At Mothers' Group we all play together" and finding roles so that Rainbow can join in the games but as soon as I'm out of perceived ear shot it happens again.

These are 3 1/2 years old. The other two girls happen to go to the same day care 1 1/2 days a week and are "best friends". But do 3 year olds 'need' best friends. Where does this behaviour come from? Is it "natural" in our society? Where are they learning that it's okay to act this way? and How do I help Rainbow to know that this isn't what friendship is about and that she has a right to be treated well?

Today I decided enough was enough. I feel like I can't keep coming and subjecting Rainbow to this. She's only just moving in to social play and I want it to be a positive experience. I could see the hurt on Rainbow's face and I could feel my own tension building so I brought it up with the other girl's mothers. It was such a difficult decision, I'm a conflict smoother - I tend to try and keep everyone happy. The other mothers are aware it happens and I do hear them tell their daughters to "play nicely" or tell them off for not playing nicely.

I understand that in our society this inclusion and exclusion is the basis of many female friendships. Girls get together share secrets, gossip at others and this pulls their bond tighter. But it's an insecure bond - there is always this niggling doubt that if they bitch to you they probably bitch about you to someone else. I want more for my daughters than this. I want my daughters to know the more you love the more love you have to give.

Our plan is that when it occurs we'll sit down with them and come up with an idea of a game that they can all play together. I guess hopefully as they grow give more of that discussion power over to them.

I just had a phone call from one of the mothers'. I got the "it's not me it's you" line. My daughter plays really nicely with other children. What can I say?

Has anyone been there done that on this one?


  1. I'm sorry I don't have any wonderful advice to give (lucky for me boys don't seem to do that exclusive thing as much). But we have encountered the kids who will only play together and not include anyone new and I usually take the approach that 'if someone is not nice to you then don't play with them'. I know that's hard because sometimes they really want to play, but it is a life lesson.
    I think in the end, even with other mum's cooperation, you can't make children do something they don't want to do.

  2. Thanks for responding Catherine. I think you're right that ultimately it might be out of the mothers' control. I also wonder whether perhaps I don't actually want my daughter to play with these girls. I don't want her to learn that this is how you play and that she has to exclude other children in order to be included by these girls. I also like how you word it when you talk to your kids, in that it's focused on the other kid's behaviour which isn't nice rather than saying the kids aren't nice. Thanks again

  3. I guess the answer to your question 'where does this behaviour come from' is simple, it's the parents behaviour reflected in their children.The other mums answering your concern with the "it's not me it's you' line just seems to reinforce this. Why would this little girl care about another childs feelings when her mum doesn't...and i guess like CatWay says it's a 'life lesson' about how not to treat others. It's a pity though they have to learn it this way.