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DS 'not allowed' to play football at break with his class mates. Any advice?

30 replies

ipanemagirl · 08/03/2008 08:00

My ds (7) has recently fallen in love with football and is practising loads in order to get better.
There are a hard core group of footballers in his class who have played every break time since year 1 and are pretty good of course.
Increasingly other boys in their year are starting to play more but the decision about who plays is made by just one boy, the best player. He usually says no to my ds when he asks despite saying yes to several other boys who have not played regularly in the past.
Yesterday the boy told my ds he couldn't play because he was 'rubbish' but let all the other boys who asked play.
I honestly don't think my ds is that terrible, certainly not hugely worse than the other ones who are newer to break time football.
He is so upset and angry about it. I'm going to speak to the boy's mother about it gently and 'ask her advice' so she doesn't feel defensive but we get on very well so she may sort it out.
Part of me thinks this is very cruel and excluding and part of me thinks, well this is playtime and it's a jungle out there and ds has to learn how hard life is. So we encourage him to practice his skills on his own and keep asking and practice out of school too. We say if he gets better eventually this boy will want to have him play.
But I'm so upset about it! I feel so sorry for ds and just want to make it better!

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needmorecoffee · 08/03/2008 08:02

Surely the playground is open to all, not just one bully?
As for learning how hard life is....yes, he must learn to deal with bullies but most people are nice and a child doesn't need to be 'hardenend'. Just confident and firm.

ipanemagirl · 08/03/2008 08:06

So does it seem like bullying to you?
I'm so upset about it that I'm not at all sure how rational I'm being! And I'm nervous of calling the boy's mother (who is actually a lovely woman and we get on very well) because I'm scared I'll burst into tears and she'll think I'm a nutter!
I keep crying about it, which does seem a little pathetic of me but obviously not in front of ds.
I think it also takes me back to a few months in a new school when I had not a single friend and would walk around on my own and just want to die I felt so left out!
Excuse slightly hysterical post!

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Freckle · 08/03/2008 08:19

I think you need to steel yourself to speak to the mum. If you say she is lovely and you get on well, I'm sure she wouldn't fall out with you. If you approach it from the angle of "Is there a problem between X (your son) and Y (her son)? Only it seems that Y is stopping X from playing football at school and X is getting terribly upset. Has Y said anything about having fallen out with X?"

Alternatively, you need to speak to the school as they may not be aware of what is happening. Once they are aware, they can step in and ensure that all boys get a go at playing.

Whose ball are they playing with? Could your ds take in his own ball and then play with whichever boys are being excluded.

Twiglett · 08/03/2008 08:21

I wouldn't speak to the mother. I'd speak to the school and ask them to keep an eye on it. There will be a playground supervisor who should be able to nip this 'power play' in the bud and make playtime non-excluding.

Speaking to the mother, no matter how gentle, will make it feel like you're calling him a bully.

ipanemagirl · 08/03/2008 08:23

Thanks, yes ds takes his own ball but it doesn't matter whose ball they play with this one boy always chooses who can play for the whole of yr 2 at breaktimes. Often this boy says "go play with your own ball'" so taking it or not seems to make no difference!
My ds would play with other boys but they are all playing with this boy, so he's the only one left other than boys who don't want to play football.
So we say to him, practise your skills on your own with your own ball and sometimes someone else may come and play with you.
I will try the mum first and then the school, it does seem a little tyrannical doesn't it?

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potoftea · 08/03/2008 08:27

I'd have a quiet word with the teacher actually, as this is excluding a child from a game. In my ds school it got to the point where nearly everyone brought in a ball and there wasn't room for everyone to play. So the teacher used organise it at the start of the week; anyone who wanted to be on the teams for the week was randomly put on a team, and no changing was allowed. This meant a good mix of the good and bad players.
It's understandable that you are so upset, especially when he's trying to improve his skill, and just wants a game. Hurting our children is so much worse than hurting us isn't it.

ipanemagirl · 08/03/2008 08:30

I know what you mean Twiglett, I hesitate to speak to her in some ways but I know how hardcore she is, she has three boys, and I think she'd have more clout with her son than anyone! But maybe I should go to the school first, maybe by monday I'll have stopped blubbing about it like an eejit.
I think I'm just so upset that I can't think straight.
Ds was bullied once in yr 1 and the two mothers of the two culprits were friends of mine. Speaking to them made absolutely no difference. Writing to the Head teacher sorted it out in the end! But obviously I wouldn't start there in this case of course. I get on very well with the Assis Hd so I may well start there and hope I don't blubb too much....

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ipanemagirl · 08/03/2008 08:39

Thanks for all these posts I really appreciate the advice. I woke up so early this morning and couldn't sleep for worrying about it but I'm starting to feel that it will be alright and I can do something about it.

yes it is worse potoftea, I wish I could have the boy be mean to me instead.

I think when things like this happen I can easily spiral into strange guilt trips like, 'I should have taken him to football coaching when he was younger" etc and then completely irrationally feeling bad for him that he's an only child etc. I just hate seeing him upset.

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Janni · 08/03/2008 10:06

ipanemagirl - it's lovely that you're so in touch with your little boy and so want to help him, but try not to take these things personally like it's your fault because then you won't be objective. I agree about talking to the school - it's in no one's interest to have the playground dominated by one or two boys.

pigsinmud · 08/03/2008 10:31

Agree with the others - approach the school.
My ds1 experienced this when he moved from village first school to town primary. He was left out of many football games at playtime. However it resolved itself and he's now quite happy.

I'm shocked how big playgrouns are. My ds1 is now at town primary and it seems huge - I'm used to the small play ground of ds2's village first school. I'm scared of ds1's playground!

chamaeleon · 08/03/2008 11:10

i really wouldnt speak to the mum, this is something school needs to address. she will take it as a criticism of her child, she may talk to him but that is likely to have little effect as she is not in the playground.

school need to approach this as a bullying issue and tbh it sounds like all the kids would benefit from a bit of education in that department. the boy who is allowed to dictate who plays should not be allowed to do so, but the other kids who see what is happening should not go along with it (can you tell we had a bullying assembly at school yesterday???).

ask the teacher or head teacher for 4 minutes to discuss it in school, make sure they know how serious you think it is. suggest ideas like a buddy bus stop for the playground so people are not left on their own (the idea is if anyone has no one to play with they stand at the bus stop and everyone keeps an eye on it and invites them to play).

even if talking to the mum works this time it wont long term as school sound like they have no idea what is happening in the playground

Iota · 08/03/2008 11:16

speak to the school not the mum - school have the power to deal with it as it is happening in school time.

cece · 08/03/2008 11:26

It would be better to talk to the school rather than the mother. Let them have a go at sorting this. I think it is exactly the sort of problem that can be solved in the classes circle time.

cece · 08/03/2008 11:26


ipanemagirl · 08/03/2008 11:28

Thanks, I think I will go to the teacher first and work up from there with her knowledge, I think that's best.
I feel much calmer now and better able to think clearly.
The school has had a load of bullying education throughout the school but I think this is new because so many boys who haven't wanted to join in (in the past) now do want to join in. Consequently this boy's dominance has sort of gone unnoticed.
But I feel much better thank you all, I really appreciate it.
I'm a bit hormonal at the moment and am nearly blubbing at songs on my ipod so I am not at my most rational!
Janni, it's true, I mustn't get lost in what ds is going through, I think it's just at a low ebb I tip over a bit.

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pointydog · 08/03/2008 11:36

yes, speak to teh teacher. You are also right that playtime is a bit of a jungle and you need to try to leave them to sort it out too. It is very common for one or two dominant boys to run football games.

ipanemagirl · 08/03/2008 11:37

thanks pointydog.

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allytjd · 08/03/2008 19:27

The janitor supervises team selection and football games at our school so even rubbish but keen DS1 gets a go.

dramaqueen · 08/03/2008 19:36

Hi, this could have been me writing about my yr 2 ds a month ago. In exactly the same circumstances, a boy who is an excellent footballer has control over all the boys who want to play football. He decides who can play or can't play. I gradually began to realise that my ds had no-one to play with because all his mates were playing football, even though some of them were not that good. My ds asked to play most days but was alwyas told he wasn't good enough.

When he told me this I too had a sleepless weekend. By the end of it I was ready to move ds to a different school . We talked about finding new people to play with, the fact that it was OK to play alone and be self-sufficient, but at the same time he started to go to football lessons at the weekned and found that he got alot better.

Yesterday he came home and said that the boy had told him he could play to see how good he was . Apparantly he is now considered good enough to play! How controlling is that. I asked my ds how he felt about it, and he said "confused".

Not sure what the moral of the story is, I just wanted to say that your reaction is normal!!

foxinsocks · 08/03/2008 19:41

yes, we have also been through this. There's a huge group of boys who play football at break time. For a while, ds didn't play and was really sad but he seems to have started playing again as long as he is in goal. I tend to think this is the sort of thing they need to sort out amongst themselves. If you ever watch a group of boys sorting out football themselves, it really is fascinating. They have natural leaders and from what I've seen, do actually manage to arrange themselves incredibly efficiently given their age.

How many children are in the year ip? We have 90 a year so in a way, it's easier because there are always other children to play with iyswim.

SpacePuppy · 08/03/2008 20:00

can't he start his own team?

marina · 08/03/2008 20:06

And I can report that like so many other things in childhood, this is ultimately a phase. Ds was the boy on the bench in Yr 2. By Yr 4 football is still popular but so are lots of other playtime activities (although I am not sure how you can be a Pokemon for an hour at lunchtime ), and any power-crazed sports jocks are left with only more of the same to attempt to control/allocate team places.
I can remember feeling sad and angry about this too Ipanemagirl although ds has never been that mad on playground football, so I never followed it up with the school.
But I would agree with the others, start with school, and good luck

ipanemagirl · 08/03/2008 23:37

More wonderful posts, many thanks.
DQueen - yours is so similar to ds's experience! I know what you mean about thinking about moving house, that's how upset I felt this morning and yesterday. Your empathy is so so good to read.
Ds has started football coaching at school on Fridays (with the football Stalin as well) and dh took him out for an hour to practice this morning so we're working on encouraging him to improve his skills too.
Fox, there are 60 in the year but the only available boys at the mo are the anti-football lot. I agree they need to sort these things out among themselves if possible but I also think this boy has become too dominant. I'm sure other boys in the group might be happy to have ds play. My dh says this boy is being a macho . ! DH was fab at football when young so seems to know exactly what's going on.
But I'm sure when I've talked to the teacher and maybe to the Assistant Hd something should shift.
Fingers crossed.

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MrsGuyOfGisbourne · 09/03/2008 14:56

Ipanema girl - good luck - please let us know how you get on with the school and lots of hugs for our DS. I am impressed that he is able & willing to communicate so well with you - wish Iwas as successful as that with my DC!

ipanemagirl · 10/03/2008 11:13

Thanks Mrs Guy, love the name.

Went in to see ds's class teacher and feel much better having done so.

Of course things are never as simple as they might first seem and she said that over the last few months quite a few mothers of the "newly interested in football boys" have come to her and complained about being excluded by young Emperor Football. Consequently he has had to accomodate more and more boys who are not as skilled as the core group. I wonder whether my ds was the first he could just say bog off to if you see what I mean!

I said that I can accept ds's exclusion but not his being the only one to be excluded because his football is not that poor!

She's going to see what she can do. We both said that a 'b' team game would be optimum but that all the 'b' team are the boys who want to play with the excellent players!

I'll let you know how it goes from here! But feel much relieved that it's not quite as personally directed against ds as it first seemed.

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