What does it mean when a young child says, “I don’t want to play with you.” And what do we do? Should we make kids play with kids that they don’t like to teach them how to get along with each other? What do we do when kids are mean to each other?
As adults, we don’t go to every play date we’re invited to, every party, every luncheon. We pick the things we want to do with whom we want to (usually 🙂 Children have the same desire to be around people that make them feel good, don’t frustrate them and have common interests.
But, little kids see things in black and white. So, it’s hard to for them express social graces when they don’t want to play with someone. It usually comes out as kind of mean or just “I don’t want to play with you.” – the honest truth.
It’s important to teach them when it’s ok to have special time with close friends, and when it’s important to let everyone play. Then give them words to use so that nobody’s feelings are hurt. I think that’s how homeschooling little ones is so wonderful. We can see the situation as it unfolds and give language to the children to help them deal with it.
For example, if kids are excluding a kid from playing tag at the park, we would respond in different manners depending on why the kids are excluding the child and the words/actions they use to do it. If they are excluding them because they don’t know them, we would react one way. If they did it because he was being rough, punching, using fowl
language, and he just wouldn’t let up after being asked not to, then we would react different way.
If two girls at park day are sitting together playing house or something, and a third comes up to play, we would be able to respond appropriately, and help the girls respond according to the situation and the desire of the kids. We can be there to judge the reactions of all the children, and give them words to help them describe their feelings without hurting the other person.
But, in a situation where there are two teachers and ten kids, I could see how that would be quite difficult to do, and having a rule like “you can’t say you can’t play” would make things easier to manage when the adults weren’t able to see how things unraveled. In homeschooling, we don’t have to have strict black and white social rules, just like in real life. Kids learn the subtleties of the rules by not having to blindly follow a rule set in place to keep order.
Parents use appropriate words and tone, so as not to leav echildren feeling excluded or unwanted – and that’s what we are teaching our kids how to do—learn how to take each individual social situation and make an assessment about what to do to avoid hurting people’s feelings while still being able to speak up for themselves about their own social desires and preferences.