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To not want to go on these play dates?

46 replies

WonWillieBrand · 30/09/2022 08:32

I have a 2 year old DD. Friend has a 3 year old DD. We were keen to build up a friendship between them both but I’m finding the 3 year old quite difficult. When we go over to their house she won’t let my 2 year old play with anything, everytime my DD picks something up the 3 year old rushes over and snatches it off her saying “that’s mine”. My DD gets so upset as she’s just not allowed to touch anything and she doesn’t understand why. Yesterday DD gave up on trying to play with the toys and went to play in the Wendy house in the garden - the 3 year old rushed over and sat in the doorway so she couldn’t go in it. DD went to play on the slide so the 3 year old rushed up and sat at the top of the slide so she couldn’t use it. My DD ended up heartbroken sobbing. My friend half heartedly tells her DD to share but then pretends she hasn’t seen her take something else off her.

She’s the same when we go to park, everytime DD tries to play on something the 3 year old will rush over and sit on it and on occasion, literally pull DD off it.

AIBU to think these play dates are just not working out? I don’t want my DD upset all the time. Is this normal behaviour for a 3 year old?

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

183 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
FlowerArranger · 30/09/2022 08:34

You really need to ask?

SpeckofDustUponMySoul · 30/09/2022 08:34

All children are different, so it's neither normal not abnormal.
I wouldn't be keen to build a friendship when your DC is repeatedly upset by your friend's DC.

WonWillieBrand · 30/09/2022 08:35

FlowerArranger · 30/09/2022 08:34

You really need to ask?

Well yes, hence why I did.

i have never had a 3 year old so don’t know if this is normal behaviour or not!

OP posts:
Chamomileteaplease · 30/09/2022 08:36

If the mother won't manage her child's behaviour then you are a bit stuck aren't you?

If you really like the mum (and it's hard to see why you would to be honest!), I would try one more time but challenge them. The first time the other girl takes a toy off yours, then say to the mum, are there any toys that my dd can play with? Don't ignore it as you are letting them both get away with really horrible behaviour.

A woman who is happy to see a little two year old treated so badly in her own home is not a nice person though surely?

Seeline · 30/09/2022 08:37

It would be normal if children weren't taught how to behave.

Ispini · 30/09/2022 08:39

Normal for a three year old yes but not for her mother! She should be stepping in and teaching her daughter to share. Personally I would avoid the playdates so that your little one doesnet get so upset. I would also tell your friend why (in a tactful way) why you dont want your daughter distressed. Your first priority is your little girl.
I empathise as I was in a similar situation when my daughter was a toddler and tbh the friendship fizzled out and it was a relief. Good luck!

jeaux90 · 30/09/2022 08:40

Don't go, it's distressing for your DD. Explain to your friend why. I mean you could flower it up and say it's because the girls don't get on but I would probably be a bit more truthful.

Smartiepants79 · 30/09/2022 08:40

Well it is normal behaviour but her mother should be stepping in and teaching her how to socialise better. She appears to be doing nothing??
What would happen if you stepped in and firmly got the older girl to move/share??
If the other mother wouldn’t like that then I’m afraid I wouldn’t be continuing to go to her house with my child.
What if they come to you?? Or on neutral grounds like soft play?
I’ve just re-read the OP -why do neither of you seem to be doing anything to stop her? If an older child had physically removed my Dd from a piece of play equipment I’d have been there immediately with a very firm ‘no!’

Doyouwritecards · 30/09/2022 08:41

I’d say pretty normal. Mum’s reaction is not normal though. My similarly aged DD was like this when she first had a group of friends over. We learned from it and now we ask her which toys she’d like to share before her friends arrive. We put any ‘high value’ toys out of the way so there aren’t arguments. I haven’t even had to remind her to share since we did this, she just seems happier to share her toys as we arranged them beforehand.
If she is a very good friend then I would just highlight it with her. And talk about how you can all manage it better. And I would call out the kid in front of mum if she won’t even let your kid go down a slide in the park. I would just say something like, “oh friends-child, my-child was just having her turn, then it’ll be your turn again”

SunshineAndFizz · 30/09/2022 08:42

I wouldn't let my 3 year old go on in that way, I'd pull her up every time and she'd be going on the naughty step if she continued. We reinforce that it's good to share and take turns, it's how they learn. Tricks like saying they can each have the toy for x number of minutes or goes, and then swap, often helps kids share. Lots of positive encouragement when they share well.

You can speak to your friend about it, or reinforce it yourself (I personally think it's fine to politely say to the kids yourself that they should share).

Otherwise I'd probably not bother going if it upsets your DD.

LivingMyBestLie · 30/09/2022 08:45

It's not normal, although does happen.

But it's not a kid problem, it's a parenting problem. Your "friend" can't set boundaries or correct poor behaviour. If you want to continue them, then you need to speak up.

"No, 3yr old, I know it's hard but you need to share your toys like 2yr old does when you come to play with hers".

"That's not very kind, 3yr old, please can you share?"

I'd then say to your friend "sorry friend, but could 2yr old play with some toys please otherwise we may have to leave".

Ponoka7 · 30/09/2022 08:45

The possessiveness is a normal stage. But it should be completely managed, like separation anxiety, or it goes on longer than it needs to. Learning that we don't need physical possession is good for emotional/brain growth. If we don't handle these stages, then it's poor parenting. She's taking the easy way out and it just isn't good for her child. I'd be honest with her. My DD had to be when it was happening. It made the Mum (no Dad) rethink things because her child wasn't being invited anywhere.

WonWillieBrand · 30/09/2022 08:46

It’s not that the 3 year old wants to play with these things though, she just doesn’t want my DD to play with them. Yesterday she took something off DD and then ran off and hid it!

I do tell her at the park but it’s harder in their own house. She was the same when she came to my house, everytime DD picked something up 3 year old rushed over and said “hey! I want to play with that!”

OP posts:
PeekabooAtTheZoo · 30/09/2022 08:46

Oh we met a family like this over the summer. My lovely resilient DS was so positive and kept trying but the spoilt older child was being ridiculous. I felt a bit sad for child and parents really (even if they brought this on themselves), they had bought their child all these team games but he kept snatching everything off DS and saying “I don’t want him to play with them”. We kept him away as much as possible until we left and I didn’t offer details to stay in touch even though I liked the parents. I do wonder what these children are like at school.
But its not exclusively an age thing, my DS was just turned three and happy to share his toys with her and other boy was at least five.

Youthinkyoureuniqueyourejustastatistic · 30/09/2022 08:47

I don’t think the 3 yr old is the problem. Rather the parent who won’t encourage them to share or build in some other plan (E.g. toys for friends. It’s tricky as you want your child to do the socially acceptable thing but also want them to not lose their power or voice. It’s like teaching your child to say sorry even though they don’t actually feel sorry - they learn to say the word but not actually feel empathy for the situation so it just looks good to society).

But if they’re not going to implement anything the only way it will work is if you focus completely on your 2 yr old, get in the floor and play with them and keep explaining to 3 yr old that “name” is playing with this - can we play with it together- wow can you build that tower etc.

Maybe the 3 yr old needs some more attention and the mother needs deprioritising for conversation and behaviour modelling.

I think she’ll take the hint and get more hands on. If not you’ll become the child wrangler while she sits and chats and you’ll know whether to move on or not.

PeekabooAtTheZoo · 30/09/2022 08:48

*happy to share toys with him. IDK where that random ‘her’ came from. Anyway bugger playdates with spoilt kids. Not worth the hassle.

iratepirate · 30/09/2022 08:50

Have they been to play at your house and is behaviour any different there, when friend’s child isn’t surrounded by neutral or “her” things?

I completely agree that this can be fairly normal behaviour for 3yo but the fact that your friend isn’t stepping up and correcting this behaviour shouldn’t be normal (sadly I see it more and more with parents in groups, particularly since the pandemic; it’s like they can’t say “no” to them as they’d prefer an easy life).

If you’re keen to try and encourage this friendship, you may need to have a conversation with your friend and explain that some ground rules are needed here.
If you’re playing and friend’s child does something dangerous (pulling your DD off the play equipment) and friend says nothing, you need to step in. Gently explain that isn’t acceptable behaviour. If friend doesn’t back you up, that’s a chance to raise the issue with her.

I hope you manage to find a solution.

Mardyface · 30/09/2022 08:52

It is a totally normal phase. It is quite difficult to manage too so I wouldn't condemn the other parent outright. However it does mean that playdates have to be closely monitored and the parents have to engage with both kids throughout to make sure things are being shared. It's a bit tiresome but if the mum isn't doing that is fine too give the playdates a rest until the 3 yr old is better at sharing. Or even if the mum is doing that and you and your daughter are not enjoying it!

TheLoupGarou · 30/09/2022 08:53

My friend and I both have boys born 2 weeks apart. We used to hang out nearly every day when they were babies and young toddlers - did all the usual baby activities and it was great.

When they got to about age 2-3 it was a totally different story - really hard work, constant snatching and behaviour like you describe above (from both of the little darlings) - we found we either had to go and do something specific (an activity that kept them both occupied) or meet up without them.

They are 10 now and do get on well (as do their siblings) but they have more of a 'cousin' type relationship - they do squabble and fall out but generally have each others backs. I think key to this is my friend and I had a very similar parenting approach - if one of you is correcting behaviour and the other isn't then that is just not going to work.

dottypencilcase · 30/09/2022 08:53

i have never had a 3 year old so don’t know if this is normal behaviour or not!

And what would you do if it isnt 'normal behaviour'? FYI it is absolutely normal for young children not to share from 2-5. Children have different temperaments- Some are better able to handle their feelings and will be willing to play alongside others without any issues about things being theirs and others won't. Plus it sounds like both children are the only child in their own home so they're used to getting their own way- having sole charge over their environments. If the mum isn't tackling the behaviour, I'd step in and police what was happening, eg. "Come on Matilda, down the slide you can go so Olivia can follow...", "right, in the house you both go and make mummy and I a cake/some tea, etc." if that sounds like too much effort, stop the play dates at their house/host at your home/meet at the park and reinforce the sharing rule- your child will likely need it too at some point.

Gloriosity · 30/09/2022 08:55

Yeah I wouldn’t keep going with that. Is this a pre existing friendship? If so I’d be inclined to keep it to an evening drink for another six months or so tbh. Some friends translate better than others when you have kids!

LivingMyBestLie · 30/09/2022 08:55

WonWillieBrand · 30/09/2022 08:46

It’s not that the 3 year old wants to play with these things though, she just doesn’t want my DD to play with them. Yesterday she took something off DD and then ran off and hid it!

I do tell her at the park but it’s harder in their own house. She was the same when she came to my house, everytime DD picked something up 3 year old rushed over and said “hey! I want to play with that!”

She's being a brat. I can't believe her mum accepts that. If she doesn't get a handle on that behaviour then she's going to have problems in the future.

I think you need to say something to her. Either that, or stop meeting up.

Beautiful3 · 30/09/2022 08:55

Her mum should be telling her to share and watch her. I don't think I'd like mine to be in tears every playdate. I'd stop with the playdates for now. You can still meet up for coffee, without the children.

TheLoupGarou · 30/09/2022 08:58

Yes, I totally agree you have to actively police it and model for them how to behave....

"Come on Vladimir, down the slide and we will let Roman have a turn, who would like to show me the sand pit? Is it time for a snack?"

And with your friend just agree sometimes to leave if it's not working out that day/the kids are being hard work

PussInBin20 · 30/09/2022 08:59

I would say it’s normal behaviour for that age but I would just step in each time and say something yourself to the 3 yr old. You don’t have to tell her off but just say something like “(2yr old’s name) is playing with that, why don’t you play with this” or you can say it’s not kind to do x, y, z.

I think the more you intervene, the less the other Mum can ignore it, especially if it’s so repeated. If she still doesn’t get the hint then I would just bring the play date to an end if your DD is (rightly) upset.

I mean this is the start of how we teach our children boundaries. If other Mum does nothing now, she will be a nightmare at school.

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