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YR1 DS struggling with friendships

(8 Posts)
ilovetosleep Mon 23-Jan-17 12:58:29

I have a tendency to write overly long OPs so will try my best to make this brief.

DS has had the same 2 friends since preschool and they are now in yr 1. Its now becoming apparent that 3 is a crowd and Ds is frequently coming home with stories of being left out (although I do suspect this happens to each of the boys on occasion).

DS has a tendency to be bossy and the other boys have taken to coming up to me after school and telling me when he's been annoying them, which is pretty upsetting. I actually think DS's bossy streak is more a desperate act to get them to play with him, rather than wanting to be in charge - he is so afraid of having to go and find someone else to play with that he thinks he can/should do what it takes to get his 2 best mates to play with him. He does struggle with being flexible once he gets an idea in his head. But I don't think he means to be controlling. He can play very diplomatically with his brother and with friends in an out of school environment

I have suggested he plays with other kids sometimes - DS maintains he doesn't want other friends, just the 2 he already has. I can see that they just aren't as bothered about him as he is about them. Its heartbreaking.

Just to make matters worse I am friends with both mums. Playdates with these boys outside of school are pretty much always a success (usually 2 out of the 3 boys) and DS has friends from extra curricular stuff too - its just the free play at school and playground which is upsetting him. Generally he is otherwise happy and it doesn't seem to be affecting his mood, only when we get on the subject of playtimes.

I have tried to speak to his teacher (who is pretty wonderful) but she was fairly dismissive and said that as far as she can see the 3 boys are inseparable and therefore must all be fine. A lot of people I talk to say its all normal playground behaviour and they will figure it out themselves. I really don't want to be annoying mum at school.

I just really want him to be happy, have friends, be liked and be nice. I want to help him through all this but don't know how, and I also don't know if its necessary, if it really is a big deal or just normal playground politics. Does anyone have any advice?

bojorojo Mon 23-Jan-17 13:18:10

I think the two boys want to be his friends; they just want a change in how he plays them. They seem to think he is trying to control them and they are articulating their problems with this. It may be helpful they have spoken to you. They have not cut him out altogether so you can still maintain the friendships if your DS will tweak how he operates in the playground and understand he is annoying them.

However, the very big lesson to learn from this is that two friends is too few. Inevitably it leads to problems with the exclusion of one child. As you say, it may not always be yours, but it is not healthy for all of them. You have probably allowed this to happen because you are friendly with the Mums so it was easy to arrange friendships. Now the children are older, they are having more of a say. If your DS is getting a reputation for being bossy, finding other children to play with may be problematic. I think the teacher should have encouraged him to try and have a wider friendship group and asked the playground supervisor to start priming this in the playground. What would he do if these friends leave the school? It will be like a bereavement! Try and see if there are other children in the class who could be his friends so he is not totally reliant on these two. Persuade him of the need to branch out!

Faz2015 Mon 23-Jan-17 13:41:19

I have same issues with my dd.. she only wants to play with the 2-3 Friend's she has.. all her friends play with other children but mine like to stick to her 2-3 friends... it's sad as she hardly gets any invite to parties... but mine is very bossy ( sept born and advanced in class).. I have told her to play with others but she doesn't. Maybe worth asking other children from his class to come for play dates. That's what I'm thinking of doing now. Good luck

Ginmummy1 Mon 23-Jan-17 13:55:25

I have some experience of this, but from the other side. My DD (also Y1) has been ‘best’ friends with a girl in her class for just over a year, and we’ve had problems periodically. DD sometimes wants to play with other children, but this other girl is very ‘controlling’ – of course, like you describe, it is most likely to stem from ‘desperation’ rather than any deliberately controlling or manipulative behaviour.

Last year, in Reception, this girl would sometimes be very physical with DD – dragging her by the arm, once grabbing her round the neck from behind, pinching her by ‘accident’, leaving a bruise – basically wanting to force DD to play with her. Sometimes there would be threats: “if you don’t play with me again I’ll tell the teacher that you hit me”; “if you don’t promise to play with me at every break time tomorrow I’ll never speak to you again”. It got a lot better once the teacher had a word with the girl’s parents who have clearly been supportive at home (as you are being) but it must be very difficult for this girl, who is just a bit keener on DD than DD is on her.

At one point the Reception teacher tried to separate them and really tried to encourage them to play and work with other children, but the girls really gravitated towards each other so this didn’t work in a one form entry school. It’s a bit better in Y1 as they are not in the same group academically and don’t often work together in class, so they do get some ‘space’.

I should add that I’m quite sure DD has not behaved perfectly! No doubt she blows hot and cold with this girl which is very unhelpful. We always remind her to be ‘kind’ and to include this girl even if DD is playing with someone else. Hopefully your DS’s friends are doing the same.

I don’t really have any advice. I think they just need to continue to have support from parents, teachers and supervisors, and they will grow up and learn how to cope.

ilovetosleep Mon 23-Jan-17 20:09:50

Thanks for the replies. ginmummy that experience in reception sounds horrible! Fortunately there hasn't been any aggression from DS although I have heard the odd threat from all parties 'I won't be your friend any more', 'If we don't play my game you can't come to my party' etc etc.

I had hoped school might be able to engineer some other friendships but teacher doesn't do any playground duty, and its a big 3 form entry, full capacity school with a rotating set of dinner ladies/playground supervisors from what I can tell. Certainly no one that DS feels comfortable approaching. His teacher has already acknowledged they are too inseparable and since starting in her class she has made sure they don't work together and are on different tables, phonics groups etc. But she doesn't seem to have any influence on what goes on in play times.

Anyway I was feeling a little more positive today and arranged a play date with another boy from his class. Then DS came out of school and told me that his two friends along with 2 other boys (totally new to all this!) decided they wanted to play a fighting game, DS didn't want to and tried to make them play something else, which ended up in 4 boys fighting my DS and punching him while he fought them off. I'm so cross that no one saw and intervened. He seems unable to tell me whether this was part of their game and they thought he was happy to join in, or whether it was more targeted and spiteful. He doesn't really know. He didn't tell them he didn't like it, and I told him that if it happens again he must a) tell them to stop and b) tell a supervisor and c) find someone else to play with. We had a chat about how that behaviour clearly isn't very nice and if he doesn't like it he really shouldn feel like he wants to play with them

I'm going to speak to his teacher tommorrow. No idea how to play it...

bojorojo Tue 24-Jan-17 11:16:20

I think he should immediately get help. Not tell them to stop and definitely not to intervene. I would ask the Head why there is no teacher on duty. Most schools do have this. I would also ask what training they have given to their midday/play supervisors. Are they just standing around and chatting? What does the school think their job should be? Who is actively checking that the supervisors are doing their job?

It is possible to ask for his teacher and a supervisor to look out for him each day, especially a supervisor. They tend to keep a close eye on "naughty" children, so I do not see why they cannot take him under their wing for a bit and help him with friendships and get to know him. I am not suggesting he is naughty, I am just explaining they do get to know specific children and this can be for a variety of reasons.

Some boys will play fight games and it seems there were 4 involved. Let's be honest they probably see it all the time on the TV and in games so it is hardly surprising. However, if his friends have a problem with two other boys this could lead to further problems and is best avoided. I would try and see if your DS can be integrated into other groups and you have made a start with another boy coming round. Time to move on I think. With 3 forms there must be plenty of choice.

ilovetosleep Tue 24-Jan-17 20:38:46

Thank you for the response bojo. Really helpful.

I went to see the teacher before I read your post and asked some of those questions. There are 2 familiar lunchtime dinner ladies/supervisors per year group, and the playground is split so its either just year 1 or yrs 1&2 depending on time of day I think. Morning playtime it is teachers on duty. She said she is going to speak to playground staff and ask them to crack down on play fighting, and that she'll speak to the class about fighting not acceptable and who to go to for support in the playground. I get the impression that they are generally a good class of kids and from what I have seem do respond well to her, so I feel ok about that.

As for him integrating.. well she seemed very much aware of the situation and will probably split the 3 boys into 3 different classes next year They will be devastated! But for the best I think. She said from what she can see there is no clear bossy boots and that they each take their turns in being the one feeling left out, She confirmed my suspicion that DS gets panicky when separated from his chums and is probably acting out of desperation when he tries to take charge. She only ever pairs him up with other kids for work related stuff and interacts with them perfectly well, so I'm really going to work on that with meeting other mums/play times etc.

We have parents evening after half term so will be able to catch up with her again then. If things haven't improved then I will definitely see if they can be more specific with playground staff and actively help him find some other kids to play with.

bojorojo Tue 24-Jan-17 23:10:04

I feel the school took your concerns seriously and have reacted very well. I tend to agree that separation next year will be best in the long run and I rather had the suspicion that feeling left out would be in turns! If they are being more aware at playtime and he is working well with other children in class, I think that is poditive. Just work on those friendships and hopefully things will improve. Best of luck.

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