The Parent ‘Hood: Helping your kid navigate play dates and friendships - The Buffalo News

Share this article

print logo

The Parent ‘Hood: Helping your kid navigate play dates and friendships

Your 6-year-old wants to plan a play date with a classmate who seems to dislike her. What do you do?

Parent advice:

Your child could make a new friend, or it could be a disaster. But winning over people, or failing to do so, is one of the things we need to learn. I’d monitor to see that your child isn’t being a doormat, but otherwise, let it play out.

– Phil Vettel

I would try to discuss this first and find out why my daughter wants to do this. Is she trying to win over someone who does not like her? Is she clueless that the classmate does not like her? This sounds as if it could easily turn into a painful experience.

Yes, that can be a learning experience. But so can talking it out before and avoiding it all together if my daughter is not picking up on social cues.

– Dodie Hofstetter

I’d go along – cautiously. The social interactions of 6-year-olds are too complex for me, and what may “seem” like “dislike” to me may actually be something else. So … I’d let it happen but I’d keep an eye and ear tuned for any overt hostility or aggression and react accordingly.

– Bill Daley

Expert advice:

It’s often hard to determine what’s going on between 6-year-olds, and even if there is an issue, this age group is notably flexible and changeable, so it’s entirely possible that the play date will proceed without a hitch, said clinical psychologist Roni Cohen-Sandler, author of “Trust Me, Mom – Everyone Else Is Going! The New Rules for Mothering Adolescent Girls” (Penguin Books).

In any case, it’s important that you resist the urge to intervene, Cohen-Sandler said. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” If the answer is flat-out rejection, bear in mind that social setbacks are a normal part of growing up: “Everyone has to deal with rejection and learn what they can do instead.”

If the classmate declines the invitation, your daughter well may ask, “Why don’t you want to play with me?” This can be uncomfortable for parents, but it’s a learning opportunity for kids, Cohen-Sandler said. If the answer is “You never want to do what I want to do” or “I don’t like it when you hog the Legos,” your daughter will get a valuable perspective on her behavior. If the play date does proceed, you’ll be able to monitor the situation and maybe offer a helpful hint about sharing or taking turns.

Have a solution? Your son wants to quit piano. You think it’s important he keep learning. Do you force him to take lessons? Find “The Parent ‘Hood” page on Facebook to post your parenting questions and solutions.

There are no comments - be the first to comment