Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Playing Nice

Being our only child, Mrs. LIAYF and I are very invested in Lukas' emotional well-being.  Perhaps too invested at times.

Lukas is an outgoing kid and a lot of fun to be around.  And, he is not is timid. If he enters a room full of kids, even if they are older, he will jump right in and start to play.  Not only that, he will have definite opinions as to how that play develops.  Often, he is the kid on the playground calling the shots. 

He seemed to have nurtured that mindset while in care with Mrs. LIAYF, during his 8 month hiatus from his daycare. During that time he was in a much smaller group of kids.  Of that group he was the oldest, and clearly the most developed of the children, so he became the de-facto leader of the group.

However now that he is back in his old center, this time in a pre-school classroom with 32 kids, he has had to reestablish himself in the social pecking order of a new group.

I witnessed a couple of instances last week while picking up Lukas, where he was playing contently by himself while a group of his peers were laughing and playing together.  Later, I asked him about who he played with that day, and he indicated that his friends "Kinda didn't want me to play with them."  He said this without too much associated emotion.  Pursuant to his personality, he seemed alright with that.

I, on the other hand, was extremely sad for him at the time.  I had actually witnessed this behavior 2 or 3 times and I was sure that he was being ostracized from the group for being too forceful with his will.  I told Mrs. LIAYF about this fear, and she related to me that she had noticed something similar while dropping him off one morning.  We talked to his teacher, who indicated he was just learning to fit back into the group.  A group which had had several months to learn each other's style of play.

Still, as parents we took this hard.  Our son has always been socially outgoing with everyone he meets, and to think that now he was being told by his friends that he wasn't welcome made both of us pain for him.  The thought actually made me as melancholy as I had been in a long time.  After all, we couldn't do much to help him out.  This was something he would have to deal with all day at school, while we were off at our jobs.  Obviously feelings of guilt at leaving him there also started to creep in.

Mrs. LIAYF and I even spent an evening dwelling on how he was having to deal with these issues and wondering if there were ways we could make him feel better.  The next day was a carnival at his school and, as we arrived we were apprehensive about how he would be interacting with his friends.

We shouldn't have been. 

As it turned out, he ended up playing all afternoon at the carnival with his peer group.  Plus,  I have since witnessed him playing within the group on multiple occasions.  They all seemed to be enjoying each others company.  His teacher even gave him a glowing report yesterday when I picked him up.  "Awesome day playing with the other kids" she told me, knowing I had been concerned.

I guess that my son, at three, is old enough to figure such social matters out on his own.  And, that maybe his Mom and Dad shouldn't own his feelings quite so much. It was a learning experience for us too.

Hey, we have only been parents for three years.  We'll figure things out soon enough.


Irrational Dad said...

I worry about that too, because we don't do daycare. It's just Tyler and his mom every day. I worry that he's getting no social skills and has no social time with peers. Then I remind myself that he's only 2 and I need to back up off his koolaid.

I hope.

SciFi Dad said...

My daughter is, ahem, assertive too, and we have the same worries about kids ostracizing her because of it. We try to encourage her to be democratic and fair, but at five she doesn't grasp it as well as she could.

Mrs. M said...

Absolutely! And I too have an "assertive" child. Much like I was. And I worry too....but so far so pretty good! :)

Lady Mama said...

It's so hard isn't it. I think that, going into these new situations, it just takes them a while to figure where they fit in. It isn't necessarily that they're being separated from the group, just that they're figuring things out. They're still so young. And I know what you mean about being heavily invested in your son's feelings but needing to let them do things for themselves - it's something I'm working on..

Anonymous said...

Pre-school definitely opens a whole other layer of worrying. At 2.5 the Mini-Kamp could care less about others feelings. Its all about me now.

Didactic Pirate said...

Went through the exact same thing with Mini-Pirate. Still do, sometimes. I don't know why I worry about her socialization skills. She's at a new school this year, and is only making casual acquaintances rather than friends, but she's perfectly fine with that. My wife says friendships happen when they happen, and it's not like our kid is trying and failing to make buddies.

Just one more thing for us to obsess over.

PJ Mullen said...

Now you've got me thinking. My little man is kind of a lone wolf at his weekly classes and I hadn't given much thought to what that would mean in a larger setting. Also, we're looking at waiting to put him in preschool until next fall, mostly because I'm still trying to figure out how not to lose my mind keeping track of two kids these days.

Jack Steiner said...

It takes a little time for kids to really start playing together. when they are little a lot of it is just sort of parallel play.

They sit next to another child and do something similar to the other kid.

It is not always indicative of what is really happening. And don't forget, they aren't any more forthcoming with telling you about their day than we were.

My 4th grader looks at me with horror when I ask what he did in school.

Captain Dumbass said...

Unless you have another one, in which case you'll be back to square one.

We're kinda going through the same thing with Liam. It's tough.

Rachael said...

This week my son has been coming home from preschool saying that a couple of the other kids he usually plays with don't want to play with him and have told him to 'go away'. I don't know what the exact situation is because he's 4 and who even knows what happened. He comes home from school happy and saying he had a good day and I'm not sure what the deal is. Sometimes, it's so hard. It really makes me sad when we go somewhere and there are older kids and Sam is chasing them and they are running away from him and not letting him catch up. But he just thinks he's playing, so is there really any harm done there?