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How can I help my 7 year old deal with being excluded by his friends?

(24 Posts)
QuintessentialShadow Wed 01-Jul-09 13:48:10

We live in a cul de sac, with many children my sons age. At the moment, there are only 2 other children here as the others are on holiday.

One child, Eric, seem to enjoy excluding my son. This is especially frustrating now as Eric has "hogged" the other child in the street which my son plays with, Alice. (They are in the same class in school).

Today all three children went home from school together. My son came in to say hi, and goes over to Erics house to ask if he comes out to play. Eric and Alice are there, they are eating ice cream, and Eric has put a film on. He tells my son "You cant come in, we are eating ice cream and watching a film, but you cant come in".

My son came home crying.

Just the other day the three of them were building a play house in the woods next to our house. With planks from us. There was a special passcode to enter the site, and while my son had gone to fetch more planks, Eric promptly changed the passcode (and wrote it on a piece of paper hidden high up a tree) and as my son did not know the new passcode, he was not allowed to play.
Eric is 8.

If my son is the only kid in the street, then Eric is very pleasant company, but as soon as there are other children there, Eric is setting them up against my son. We are new to the neighbourhood, we just moved here in January.

I need help dealing with the situation, I have never come across anything like this before. His parents seems to be pretty oblivious, just saying "yes, well, they argue, they make up, there are good days there are bad days, and poor your son seem to be on the receiveing end more than seem fair, but alas such is life".

I am being a particularly bad parent about this, as I dont know how to advice my son, I just get frustrated because my son is so sensitive and just burst out crying. I think this is part of the problem. My son does not speak up against him, he just bows his head and start crying. I find myself getting angry with my son for not holding his head up high, at least for long enough to get out of earshot of Eric.

Any advice?

EyePeam Wed 01-Jul-09 20:01:59

oh your poor ds and poor you, I feel for you both. am I right in thinking you don't live in the UK? are there maybe cultural issues, ie people just more relaxed or do things differently (or maybe you're all Brits, sorry if I've got this wrong.)

anyway ... i think it's not on for them all to come back from school together and then Eric be the one to tell your ds that he can't come in - where were his parents, someone must have been at home, so it seems odd for it to be Eric doing the deciding about who can and can't come in. I would possibly have gone back to Eric's house with your ds and asked to have seen whichever parent was at home and asked politely if it was ok for your ds to come and watch the film too as Eric and Alice are the only 2 kids around to play with... not like it was an organised play date that you would have gatecrashed i assume?

think you need to do the old tactic of making your place the base. unless Eric is a particularly nasty child, then include him in all plans, along with Alice, and get thme over to your place after school. make sure Alice's parents are aware and happy, so that as soon as they get back the plan is to come to yours and play. do this a few days in a row, then both Alice and Eric are pretty much obligated to have your ds back.

on the passcode thing ... I so feel for your ds, I was excluded like this at school and was exactly the same, wouldn't stand up for myself but would try to make out that I knew what was going on when other friends whispered and giggled and conspired. I just didn't know how to handle it and would come home crying rather than stand up to it.

you need to help your ds be ready to answer back, so he either has to say, "don't be silly we're all playing together so you have to tell me the passcode" or "we're building it together silly, if you don't tell me the passcode you can't have the planks."

BUT if the other kids just won't play with him then your ds will need to be able to say, "so what I will do my own thing, you'll have less fun without me" - and then you and he will have to do something really fun together. perhaps get Alice round on her own and say to Eric that he can only come if he starts being nicer to your ds, he can't come and have your tea and play with ds's toys if he won't share next time....

not sure this is helpful but wanted to reply as it struck such a chord with me and I wish I had been stronger at the time - not easy. sad

pointydog Wed 01-Jul-09 20:13:28

well, I'd start off suggesting two things to do in tandem.

First, give your son a couple of short replies that he can use when these situations crop up, like 'you're not a good friend, eric' or 'you're not being kind, eric' or 'I'm going to have fun somewhere else'. Your son would then need to walk away, calmly if poss.

Second, get some cool Thing. A bubble machine, a huge cardboard box, set up an obstacle course etc. Invite ALice over or get your son to invite her to play with the Cool Thing. If Eric comes round wanting to play, your son could either say 'only if you play nicely' or 'no you've not been a good friend to me' or summat. Or, let him play and see if they get on before booting him out. grin

TurtleAnn Wed 01-Jul-09 22:16:43

If all 3 go to the same school and are in the same class/ year then I would mention it to the school teacher. They have a curriculm that deals with friendships and will run some friendship/ bonding activities in class as part of the social and emotional curriculum this term and talk about how it feels to be left out.
It sounds like Eric has some issues with friendship maintenance and is maybe not so good at keeping friends once he has made them and that might be why he 'hogs' Alice and tries to have only 1 special friend at a time and possibly sees your DS as a threat. He is only 8 and that is when kids develop an understanding of their own and others feelings.
I agree your DS needs some phrases to help him deal with crying. But try not to make them too negative, e,g 'I don;t need to play with you' because this is likely to escalate the problem. I like the idea that he says 'I'm going to play something else' and then comes home and does something cool with you, that Eric and Alice could join in with if they wanted.
I also think I would tackle Eric's parents again and suggest some group outings, maybe all of you could go to the park together to help reinforce to Eric that if he says something mean to your DS that you and his parents will be talking about it. At 8-years he is just starting to really understand that adults talk!

Yurtgirl Wed 01-Jul-09 22:31:49

Eric needs to read the library book my dd has atm
"You cant play!" aimed at 5ish yo kids
Story line is exactly as you describe!

In idly looking for it on Amazon I found this might be helpful

pointydog Wed 01-Jul-09 22:32:28

Isn't it the holidays though?

Personally I would never involve th eparents.

QuintessentialShadow Wed 01-Jul-09 22:42:42

It is the holidays. There is a holiday play scheme at school which they all go to between until 2 pm.

So not involve the parents. hm

I have asked my son if he wants to invite Alice (and Eric ) home after school tomorrow, I will have tea and snack on the ready for them. At least then, my son will have an arrangement and cant be excluded. Alice is usually quite a sensible girl, but all the kids complain that Eric just wants to be the boss, and they have a hard time saying "no" to him.

EyePeam Wed 01-Jul-09 22:56:33

pointydog, why not involve parents? at this age I don't see the harm - after all they are only 7 /8 rather than teenagers, and parents need to know what;s going on - like Eric being rude to his friends and barring them from his house - did his parents know he spoke to your ds like that?

Yurtgirl Wed 01-Jul-09 23:01:08

Hehe I have found dds library book

Can I play?

Eric needs to read it as he features in it

mrsruffallo Wed 01-Jul-09 23:02:53

Try and build Eric and Alices relationship back up.
Is Alice's mum a good enough friend that you could approach her?
She may have a different spin on it, or a more neutral solution if she thinks it is a problem.
Also, time changes things with young kids, they may all be getting on a little better soon
Best of Luck

mrsruffallo Wed 01-Jul-09 23:04:02

Sorry not Eric and Alice's relationship- Y=your son and Alice's relationship

QuintessentialShadow Wed 01-Jul-09 23:43:28

Thanks. I shall try to build on my sons and Alices relationship. Alice is a nice and sensible girl. She has said she does not like the way Eric tries to boss the kids around, and she does not like how he tries to tell her what to do.

I have told my son he can bring her home to play after school tomorrow, and I have emailed another mum asking if her son wants to come home with my son on Friday. Fingers crossed!

EyePeam Wed 01-Jul-09 23:45:54

good plan. sounds like all the kids need to start standing up to Eric a bit more - so when he changes the passcode Alice or whoever should be telling him what it is or telling Eric not to be mean.... hard to get them to do this though, and you don't want to instigate a neighbourhood bullying programme of this child! (even though he sounds like he deserves it ... wink)

QuintessentialShadow Wed 01-Jul-09 23:48:46

I know. There are two more boys, and a girl living on our street, but they are on holiday. It is not so pronounced when they are home. My sons best friend is away for two weeks, and to be honest, I cant wait for him to come home! Even though they have their fights and their moments, they still manage to make up, and play without these kinds of issues - MOSTLY!

vInTaGeVioLeT Thu 02-Jul-09 00:00:12

Eric sounds like a little shit - some kids are just mean. I find the best thing to do is have a "word" with the offending child - just try not to be too scary or Eric will run home to parents upset.

perhaps something like "fine Eric - if you can't play nicely then you won't be invited to our house when we have a tea-party when ds's friend comes home from holiday"

brokenspacebar Thu 02-Jul-09 00:14:09

QS no advice, but I could have written your post about my dd and a supposed friend at school, they are 7 (well dd's "friend" has just turned 8)... I just don't get the horrible manipulative behaviour, and I am at a loss, to find the best way to help dd hold onto her confidence.

buy1get1free Thu 02-Jul-09 10:13:15

Is Eric his real name ?

QuintessentialShadow Thu 02-Jul-09 12:56:55

buy1get1free - does it matter? Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but it is easier to hold onto Eric and Alice, than child a, child b and child c. grin

I agree with not being so scary he runs home to tell his parents about the mean whitch next door...

posiedullardparker Thu 02-Jul-09 13:12:18

I think a lot of children can be just like Eric, but most have parents/teachers overseeing the behaviour and correcting it. It's very upsetting but part of life, a child's life anyway.

I agree with swift responses from your DS may well work. Or could you play with him in the street, something brilliant.

When this happens to my DCS we talk about how it feels and comfort but a little bit of never mind, it's not the end of the world assists them not blaming themselves and puts things into perspective.

EyePeam Thu 02-Jul-09 13:48:41

Hi QS. Let us know how things go today when they get back. You can definitely lay down the law a bit more with Eric if he's in your house - eg "we don't speak to each other like that here," or if he tries to exclude your ds "I'm sure you'd all like to play nicely together, unless you want to go home and play by yourself Eric?"

Wouldn't do his parents any harm to have their ds come home on his own and wonder why no-one wanted to play with him. I do think parents of this sort of child need to talk through how to play nicely with other children rather than dismiss it as normal behaviour. My ds is a bit little for this sort of thing yet, but I'd be mortified if I found out that he behaved in the way that Eric does when he gets to this age.

QuintessentialShadow Thu 02-Jul-09 13:55:14

I think I shall mention about it next time I talk to his parents.

My son came home alone, as Alice had gone home with Eric. I think what is happening is that Erics parents are taking Alice after school this week, as Alices parents cant finnish work so early as 2pm. Alices mum was home early last week, but not Erics parents. I think there is some sort of cooperation as both families have long working hours. Alice is going to Erics every morning, and Erics father drops them both off to school.

I had positive response regards the boy I invited home tomorrow. So fingers crossed that goes well.

Then, next week, there is no school or holiday club for the next month.... All kids (not on holiday) will be home all day.

<dread>

EyePeam Thu 02-Jul-09 14:05:05

oh that's a shame. is your ds ok? have you got something fun and different you can do with him this afternoon?

as for next week - can you get organised in advance with having a couple of the other kids over to yours for a day / half day, for an organised play date + lunch / tea? Fix up two different days and have some great stuff planned, or activities like things to make obstacle courses, water pistols etc available for raucous garden play (if it's hot where you are that is!). Make your son's house the cool place to be (chuck in some ice cream just for old fashioned bribery's sake).

Then your son is sorted out for at least a couple of days and doesn't have to have Eric there at all and can forget about him - must be stressful for your ds always wondering if he's going to be "allowed" to join in or not.

Can you also fix up with parents of kids that come to yours that your ds could go back to theirs the following week - do a mutual trade-off of giving each other time off whilst it's holidays and no school activities available. So again your ds is sorted with ready made stuff to do on at least a couple of days each week that don't have to involve Eric, or are not on Eric's turf?

poshsinglemum Thu 02-Jul-09 14:13:02

Eric sounds truly awful. why do you want them to be mates? Your poor soon. try and get him to assert himself.

lljkk Thu 02-Jul-09 14:19:18

DS1 is in similar situation with another lad -- only it's worse because DS1 ends up fighting other boy at school & I have stopped speaking to other lad's parents as a spinoff of the conflict.
All very depressing .
I hope that it goes better for you, Quint.

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