Playing nice in the sandbox


August 10, 2013 by themommahen


We interrupt our regularly scheduled 70 Days of Summer (I still owe Days 64-66) for a peek into the seedy underbelly of kids’ social psychology and relationship building.

H#2 asked two other boys twice today if he could play with them/they would play with him, no small task for any 5yo. They said no both times.

He asked if they would share their cool-looking toys with him. They said yes and then immediately asked for them back.

He asked to play with the other cool-looking toys they weren’t playing with. They said yes and then immediately asked for them back.

The woman with them (not sure if she was the mother of both or not) told them to be nice friends, and they immediately went into a chorus of “but he’s not our friend!”

I honestly don’t think they were trying to be mean by saying that, just very literal, as they’d never met before. My boy handled it better than I did, as I’m pretty sure I felt the cracks begin in my heart. When I told him how proud I was of him for introducing himself and asking to play with them, as well as asking nicely to share their toys, he shrugged his shoulders like it was no big deal. I explained to him that sometimes kids just don’t really know how to respond to other kids they meet for the first time. He nodded his head, looking much older than his years, and said, “he looked kind of confused, like he didn’t know what I was asking.”

It’s so hard to watch children navigate these choppy social waters. I want to grab them by the scruff of their neck sometimes and lay it out for them, telling them how it’s done, and what’s right, and for Pete’s sake, just be nice to each other. But in most cases, that’s not what’s best. So we sit there, the cracks making their way, marking the path for those to come.

Or you can do like I did, and pull out your toys, that are automatically cooler than their toys just because they don’t belong to them, and watch the other kids ask your kid if they can play with them.

2 thoughts on “Playing nice in the sandbox

  1. aviets says:

    Wow, what a cool kid you have. Few that age would register another kid’s possible emotion and thought process. One one of our three had that kind of empathy at such a young age.

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