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Would this affect my child's self confidence/personality?

(29 Posts)
lostindubai Thu 01-Sep-16 11:19:48

My boy is 3 and has been seeing my friend's child (same age) when we all meet up weekly since they were born. I never expected them to be best buddies just because of that, but the older they're getting the more different they are.

Friend's child rarely wants to play with mine, would rather just watch. Definitely doesn't want to hug or hold hands which my ds tries occasionally (I have explained to him that not everyone wants to touch!) When ds tries to talk to him or engage with him, he is usually ignored. In fact he will say right in front of us all that he can't hear my ds, which makes me feel really sad, and I have no idea how this might make ds feel. My friend does what she can to correct her son's behaviour but to no avail.

What I really want to know is will the repeated rebuffs affect my ds, as he's such a kind, sweet boy and I'd hate for him to change. We do see other children (who interact nicely with him) but none of them as regularly as this one. I want to keep seeing my lovely friend, but not at the expense of my ds' self esteem etc.

Also, how do I explain this behaviour to ds? I don't want to label it unfriendly, rude or strange in case he repeats it in front of them, but I don't want him thinking it's acceptable behaviour either confused

VioletBam Thu 01-Sep-16 12:50:38

Well, I wouldn't keep on with the meetings in your shoes. I would meet my friend without the children.

It's no fun for your DS is it?

VioletBam Thu 01-Sep-16 12:51:38

I meant to add...when we make friends in the baby days of our children's lives, these friendships often fall by the wayside when the children don't get on.

If you don't have other things in common anyway.

lostindubai Thu 01-Sep-16 13:12:15

I was already friends with her before the boys came along, have been for many years but obviously much closer now.

As for having fun, well ds always looks forward to seeing them, enjoys playing with the different toys and interacting with the boys' family, but I was just worried about this boy's reactions to him being detrimental to him, since he's his peer, if you see what I mean.

VioletBam Thu 01-Sep-16 13:16:35

Does DS get to mix with other children at playgroup/nursery? If so then I wouldn't give it a second thought.

Don't try to explain...he'll cotton on. Your DS just needs to have plenty of opportunity to play with other children in different settings.

LuchiMangsho Thu 01-Sep-16 13:21:21

That would have been my son. He is shy, quiet and found other children incredibly stressful. Other children coming up to speak to him, hug him, touch him, would have reduced him to tears and hysteria.
He's now 4.5, much more sociable, very very popular at school because he's quiet and well behaved. He's still shy and will never be the life and soul of the party, but that's who he is.
It's no one's fault. It's just that they have different personalities. You can't expect the other 3 year to be friendly and gregarious if that's not in his nature and you can see his mum is trying. My son wasn't 'rebuffing' other children, he just found it really really difficult.

PacificOcean Thu 01-Sep-16 13:23:37

I think your DS will be fine. Kids tend to accept much more easily than us that everyone is different. For example, there is a boy in my DS's class who can't talk (due to a rare genetic disorder) - the kids take this in their stride and don't seem to question it.

Has your friend spoken to a health care professional about her child's development? A couple of the things you describe sound slightly concerning.

lostindubai Thu 01-Sep-16 16:13:01

Thanks guys I feel a bit better now. Yes my ds goes to preschool and has other friends. You're right Pacific, we do over analyse as adults don't we! Yes my friend has asked for help but not really found any unfortunately.

Good to hear your son is more sociable now Luchi. I suspect when my friend's son starts preschool that might help things along. You say it's not 'rebuffing', but from the other side it definitely is, whatever the reasons.

smurfest Thu 01-Sep-16 20:15:15

I think at that age it's easiest to decide that that's the child's personality when it might just be a phase the other boy is going through. I can remember my DD at that age, following a friend's little girl around and being rebuffed and told she didn't want to play...

it's easy to extrapolate and think that DD is going to always be clingy and the other girl unsociable, but this isn't the case

LuchiMangsho Fri 02-Sep-16 02:14:21

If the other mum is trying to deal with it, that's all she can do. She can't force the boy to play with yours. My son who was very shy as I said, is the only kid in his preschool class who walked in confidently and never shed a single tear. He's learned to remove himself from situations that are 'stressful'- when kids are getting boisterous he goes into a corner and sits and reads. He's also found friends that he can interact with on his own terms, in fact other kids who are a little less lively like him.

By not shoving him into playing with other kids, I reassured him that being 'shy' was not a bad thing. And it doesn't matter what other people think. What I did insist on was manners- he had to say hello, goodbye, and answer questions. Otherwise he didn't have to interact/play unless he wanted to. Imagine as an adult, your husband forces you to repeatedly to hang out with people you don't want to, repeatedly, week in and week out, especially when you are an introvert. And if you are quiet in a corner, that is seen as offensive. You are going along, you are trying not to get upset, and even then that's not good enough. The other child saying 'I can't hear him' (which I can imagine DS saying- and I would have said, 'no you can. Please answer the question') is a three year old boy's way of saying 'Mummy please stop forcing me to play when I don't want to!' The other kid isn't pushing, shoving, or being aggressive. He is just being quiet and wanting his own space!

I know you are caught up in your son and your son's well being as you well should be. But little children and their preferences need respect as well. Why don't YOU make friends with the other little boy instead of asking your son to do so? I found adults who spoke like adults to my son got a good response. They are still at the age when they do parallel play anyway. So why don't the two of you take a simple game along and get all four of you to play it together so the other boy isn't being forced to interact but is still 'playing'. I would do this only if the friendship meant that you'd be willing to invest the time/effort. But telling a quieter kid to 'just go and play' rarely works.

If you want to know how quickly things can change- we walked into a friend's house the other day in a different city. My son hadn't seen the two girls for a year so I thought it would take a while to break the ice. They disappeared upstairs instantly to play and for the next 8 hours other than meal times they barely appeared. If you had told me at 3 that this would happen in 18 months' time, I would have been amazed. But by not stressing him out socially, not putting expectations on him other than 'be polite', it has worked out really well.

AyeAmarok Fri 02-Sep-16 04:39:36

I agree with luchi, it sounds like you might be really stressing this other little boy out by trying to force him to play with your DS how your DS wants to.

While to you it's rebuffing, look at it from the other side, imagine you were the parent of a little boy who liked to play quietly, not be forced to hug on demand etc, and someone else was constantly trying to trample over his boundaries?

I think maybe just reminding your DS, when they are together, things like everyone is different, X wants to play quietly, why don't you play beside him/play with mummy etc would help.

And it's good that your DS also gets to interact with others too who are more similar in personality.

lostindubai Fri 02-Sep-16 08:27:40

I'm not sure where anyone's got the idea that I'm trying to force anyone to play with my ds. This has never happened. My friend and I catch up weekly and our children are with us, that is all. My ds will happily play on his own. My concern was that when he extends his friendship to this boy he gets blanked. I don't want my ds to stop being friendly to other children because of the response he gets from this lad.

If the other mum is trying to deal with it, that's all she can do. She can't force the boy to play with yours.

Quite. And nor would I expect her too.

What I did insist on was manners- he had to say hello, goodbye, and answer questions.

This is actually all I would like to see. My ds gets blanked when he calls this boy's name in the playground, or says goodbye to him as we're about to leave. When prompted by his mum he simply says he can't hear him.

Why don't YOU make friends with the other little boy instead of asking your son to do so?

I do have a good relationship with him, he seems to respond better to adults. And I DON'T ask my ds to try and make friends with him, he does this naturally. Going back to manners though, he won't say hello or goodbye to me either.

So why don't the two of you take a simple game along and get all four of you to play it together so the other boy isn't being forced to interact but is still 'playing'.

I'm afraid he sits out of these games too.

imagine you were the parent of a little boy who liked to play quietly, not be forced to hug on demand etc, and someone else was constantly trying to trample over his boundaries?

This is not what is happening at all! I really don't know where you got that idea. My friend is herself trying to encourage her son to respond to mine confused

I think maybe just reminding your DS, when they are together, things like everyone is different, X wants to play quietly, why don't you play beside him/play with mummy etc would help.

This is what happens anyway. It is the politeness that is missing, I honestly don't care if they don't play together, I just want my ds to be acknowledged (or to know that being ignored won't affect him negatively, which was the whole point of my OP).

If we spend a very long time together, longer than 3 hours, he will indulge in a game of chase or something with my ds, and they have a wonderful time together. Usually as we're about to leave though! It's not constant hostility from him or anything like that, my only concern is the lack of response my son gets from his approaches (which are by no means boisterous or in your face, merely polite).

mouldycheesefan Fri 02-Sep-16 08:33:12

Perhaps he needs a hearing test?
It's quite common for three year olds to play alongside eachother rather than together. I can't really see the issue? Some kids are happy to bumble around on their own, others like to play with other kids in a more organised way.

SolomanDaisy Fri 02-Sep-16 08:35:41

Your son will be having to get used to this at school next year anyway. I see kids blank each other in the playground all the time, even when they're friends. They're very small and engrossed in their own little world. Your DS and this boy don't have a good connection and, much as you'd appear to like to think otherwise, that will be partly down to your son and his personality. Back off a bit with the manners expectations. Three is an age where you're teaching manners, not expecting them to be consistently applied.

lostindubai Fri 02-Sep-16 08:37:16

Hmm, another one missing the point. Sorry if that sounds rude but I really wish people would read properly. I'm not here to look for advice on how to change my friend's son's behaviour, it's really not my place. Nor am I looking for an explanation of why he might be like it.

Thanks to those who did get the point of my OP.

lostindubai Fri 02-Sep-16 08:40:24

(That wasn't to you BTW Solomon)

lostindubai Fri 02-Sep-16 08:42:22

Oops I've turned into one of those defensive posters who really get on my wick! Apologies. I am grateful for all responses smile

KingofnightvisionKingofinsight Fri 02-Sep-16 08:46:00

My DS was/is like yours, OP. He's 6 now and at times I still worry about him losing his ridiculously friendly, accepting attitude. Ibe seen him run up to a friend to give him a hug and the friend just stands there. But honestly you would be able to tell if your child was feeling hurt. And all of this is just part of his experience of learning how to interact with other people. My DS now understands that some other kids are not as "full-on" as he is, and he is able to be more respectful about it than he used to be. I also agree with others who say kids' personalities change a ton from toddler age on, so your friend's child may not be this way forever. (Your DS may not either, and it won't be because of this child.)

If I were you I might cut down the frequency to every other week, say, but if your child is enjoying it I wouldn't worry about it "rubbing off on him."

PlanD Fri 02-Sep-16 08:47:03

I think if this was the only social contact with other children your ds is having then you'd be more justified in worrying but your ds has lots of other interaction with children. Why not talk to your ds in really simple terms about how people/children are all different and some like to mix/play with others and some don't or find it hard. Look at it as your ds learning about how to cope with kids who are quieter or who don't want to play or are a bit difficult. It's a valuable learning experience for him. Have you seen signs of low self esteem in your ds in the situation? Is he not wanting to go to your friends house or withdrawing? The thing is, your sweet kind boy will change- not for the worse but he will become more socially sophisticated and learn how to handle social situations- this is just early practice for him wink. And the fact your friend is trying to help is good- there are a gazillion posts on MN about dc behaviour that's ignored by parents.

oldbirdy Fri 02-Sep-16 08:51:07

This makes me really sad. You are worried about your perfectly normal little boy being 'rebuffed' by a 3 year old who is from your posts already being judged by you as impolite, rude, cold.

That little boy is almost certainly an introverted personality who is somewhat anxious around others. He is being pressurised and is already showing anxious withdrawal (pressurised to 'be polite', to say hello and goodbye, to respond when all his behaviours are saying 'I find this too hard'). Unless he actually does have hearing loss he is inventing excuses to try to explain away behaviours he has already learned bring him approbation. Poor little guy. You are asking if their interactions will harm your son, the answer is very unlikely. He will start school and meet pals. I'm afraid your friend's son likely has a much less smooth pathway ahead. My son developed selective mutism from being pressured to interact like this.

oldbirdy Fri 02-Sep-16 08:56:18

The thing is, anxiety in children exhibits in one of three ways: fight, flight, or freeze. When your DD is being ignored this is the withdrawal or freeze reaction. The other child isn't being deliberately impolite. And pressurising to respond makes it worse as the anxious child feels an even greater weight of anxiety. 'Manners' have a great deal to answer for in anxious children.

oldbirdy Fri 02-Sep-16 08:58:33

And I know you aren't looking for an explanation as to why your friend's son might be like that, but you are already making your own explanations around rudeness. Try thinking of it as anxiety and see if it helps you feel less upset towards him.

MrsJayy Fri 02-Sep-16 09:05:47

Little children are quite resiliant your son will come across other children who don't play like he does and he will learn as he develops not to hug if they dont wanthugged its a learning curve and it won't damage him. The boys might never be friends and just bumble along when their mums meet up not every child is going to like your son

MrsJayy Fri 02-Sep-16 09:13:55

My Dds are 23 and 18 my friends Ds are 23 and 18 we used to meet up when kids were younger the older 2 got on great younger 2 not so much the 23 year olds are great friends as adults still the 18yr olds not so much

You can't force friendships if children don't gel then they don't gel even at 3 kids gravitate towards kids they can relate to

lostindubai Fri 02-Sep-16 09:48:12

Thank you oldbirdy your posts really make sense. I'm now looking at it slightly differently. You're right it does help to look at the possible reasons behind the behaviour. I'm feeling very reassured about my ds now (thanks King, Plan and Mrs), and will concentrate on supporting my friend if she ever needs it.

Re pressure, I'm not sure how you teach manners without a wee bit of pressure (I certainly make sure ds says 'please' before passing him a piece of cake!), but accept that with all the other behaviours exhibited that there's probably more to it with my friend's son.

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