When Friends Won’t Share

 

 

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When Friends Won’t Share

You and your child have worked hard to understand the rules of sharing in your own home, but what happens when your child comes home from a playdate feeling upset that friends don’t share? Here are some things to consider as children work through the challenges of an independent social life:
You and your child have worked hard to understand the rules of sharing in your own home, but what happens when your child comes home from a playdate feeling upset that friends don’t share? Here are some things to consider as children work through the challenges of an independent social life:

  • Affirm his understanding of values. He knows what is “right” about the way to share because you’ve been teaching him to understand sharing. This is an opportunity to acknowledge and reinforce his understanding.
    “You know at this house when a friend visits, we share toys so everyone can have fun together.”
  • Empathize with his experience.
    “It sounds like you had some time at F’s house when you didn’t know what you could play with and you felt sad or disappointed.”
  • Plan for what to do next time.
    “When he said no, do you think if you asked his brother that you could have found some other things to play with?”
    “Sometimes big people can help us, do you think you could ask a parent to help you know what toys are okay for playing with at their house?”
    “If it’s not a day when F wants to share his toys, would you like to come home?”
    “Shall we pack a couple of your toys to use while you’re there? What will you do if  F wants a turn with them?”
  • Acknowledge those successful times. 
    “It sounds like you guys had some good busy time together today.”   
  • Keep a vision of a positive future for this relationship. To do this, it may help to remember a playdate that had a good specific memory and then acknowledge that the future holds hope for better.
    “Today was hard for you and F. Last time was fun playing with trucks, another day you guys will find some more good fun.”   

For your own reassurance, you may want to have a conversation with your neighbor when the boys cannot overhear. For this to be successful, it’s best not to repeat your son’s words or make any accusations, but rather to explore whether she or he sees any problems when the boys are together. There can be any number of circumstances that surround young children at play that could contribute to your son’s experience. Here are just a few common triggers for less than ideal playdates:

  • Length of time. It may be that the boys are able to manage playing together for an hour but if the playtime gets longer these behaviors begin.
  • Natural companionability. It may be that your child prefers one brother over the other, and these behaviors are an attempt by the one to gain place or status.
  • The environment is difficult. It may be that the guys do great together when outside and highly active, but being confined indoors creates too much opportunity to literally rub each other the wrong way.

Whatever the cause, it is a part of being human to have to sort through experiences that disappoint or frustrate us. Children are lucky to have caring parents that can be a resource and guide to help do that sorting.

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