Saturday, June 18, 2011

To Playdate or Not Playdate?

There's a boy who is a friend to my 6 year old who has been mean to him and physically picking on him for the last year and a half. I saw the effects of it today and it gave me pause to think.

We were at this boy's birthday party today.  Before we left, my husband said to me: "If he (our 6 year old) begins to feel uncomfortable and wants to go home, you should go home."

I nodded, agreeing, thinking this is what I will do but not believing it would come to this.

Well, halfway into the party the 6 year old came to me, stating just that: he wanted to go home.  The boy was being mean to him again.  He had stated the latter to me twice before this time.

I rubbed his shoulder and nodded.  We would go, soon.

The next moment the boy came out of his house and stared at my 6 year old.  He was holding a toy up in front of him - innocuous toy - and just staring at my boy.  By the way my 6 year old starting getting agitated, you would've thought he was being threatened by the toy.  My son was intimidated.

I've witnessed this kind of interaction between them before in their classroom, once before.  Unbelievable but real.    I felt the vibe off this kid, even though he wasn't doing anything but staring at my son and holding up a toy.  Intimidation was present.

"Stop it," he told the boy. "Stop it!"

I started soothing my son, who responded, "He's being mean to me, again."  The boy kept staring and then he walked away.

"Ignore him," I said.  "Don't let him get to you."

It's this boy's way.  He's been called out several times for his mean behavior towards other kids at school.  Even at his own birthday party, a few kids, including my son, were getting annoyed by his behavior.  His mother's aware of it.  I'm sure his father is - somewhat.

And yet this boy and my son have had their sweet moments.  They play well together.  However, more often than not, he's been aggressive towards my 6 year old.  It's been a year and a half, and I can now see the effects through the way my boy reacts around him.  Like a person who has been traumatized.  It hurts my heart to witness this and even write about it.  I wish it wasn't so but it is.

At the end of the party, this boy's parents were suggesting playdates between our boys.  I could even leave my son at their house for a few hours so the boys can play.  They are being kind and reaching out. In moments, I believe the boy sincerely wants to play with my son.

But I hesitate.

If being in the same space with this boy causes my boy to become agitated after awhile, is it even a good idea?  Even if I embraced the other mom's thought that if these two play together more often outside of school, she could help her boy not be so mean to mine's, is it wise?  Or should I push past my doubts?

In moments, my 6 year old is up for it and other moments, not so much.  He wants to be friends with this boy and enjoys the friendship when things are good but then he gets picked on physically most times when they are together.   I get it because I've seen this boy be really sweet to my boy and after they play for awhile, just reach out and hit him behind the knee or push him to the ground without provocation from my son.

So there's my dilemma.  Playdate or no playdate?

What do you think?  What would you do?  Have you experienced this before with your kids?  Please share, because I'm still not sure which direction to go with this.  


  1. oh wow, your poor little boy. I think I would go with no playdate. If I could, I would just be honest with the parents and just encourage his friendships with other kids. I think I would have a hard time leaving him with this kid without being there just to make sure he wasn't being bullied, especially if the parents are stepping in when their child is being mean. Ahhh that's a hard one!

    Just stopping by to say hi from RDC

  2. Oh this makes my stomach hurt, my boys are still young and I hate to think of them going through things like this. I wish I had great advice but just wanted you to know I feel for you and your little guy!

  3. I would say no play dates, but if you really want to, have the boy over to your place. That gives your son home ground advantage and you an opportunity to oversee things. You may also get some insight as to what changes things between them. When do they get along? Do certain activities set the other kid off?

  4. I would say no play date. Although Diana has a good idea with having the boy over and see if you can pinpoint what sets the boy off.

  5. OMG - I have the identical problem with my 51/2 year old - It is infuriating! I am friendly with the mother - and we would actually do playdates for a while - because it seemed one-on-one - the kids got along - But finally - my son said he didnt want to do playdates anymore - so I had to honor that. At the end of the day - do they really need to have a playdate with a horrific person that tortures them?

  6. Well, I would say no. And I am not even sure, I would have gone to BD party.
    Diana's idea is good , if you feel its a friendship what you wnat your son to have then ask them over, but really I dont see why to do it at the moment.

  7. This might help:

  8. No playdate. I have a child that age who has dealt with mean kids and I feel that, above good manners, my job is to teach her how to identify and choose GOOD friends. The last thing I want is for her to end up with friends and/or a partner who treat her badly. There are too many other nice people in the world.

  9. I just found your blog jumping around from another one. And since I think things happen for a reason I had to comment. The other child (the "mean" one) could have been my child at that age. He could be very sweet then something would set him off and he would be mean. We found out through many years of testing, and therapy that he has several "issues", sensory integration among them. He was never intentionally mean he just didn't know how to handle his overwhelming feelings. With therapy he handles things better now. I'm a mother of 3 and I teach, I know kids. Kids this age that are behaving in such a way are usually dealing with something internally or externally that they have no control over. They feel out of control and they need to control others. I would suggest that you do not shut this child out, but have the playdate at your house and watch the interaction and what sets this child off. It could be something very subtle. I know it's not your job to figure this child out, but as a mom of a child like this I can tell you that the parents and friends that have stuck by my son through the good and bad have been a God send. He has a loving, kind heart he just doesn't always show it to the world. Well that's my take. FWIW

  10. No playdate. This other boy has the beginnings of being being a bully. If allowed to continue it is going to escalate. Why subject your child to this?

  11. Your son is a sweetheart. I would not want a 'friend' of his to treat nice when the 'friend' feels like it one day, then be mean to him the next.

    Is it a question of self-control or need to express his emotions without being mean? Does the intimidating behavior results from the not wanting to share toys or taking turns? Or saying 'mean' things? Is it the parents? Kids do act out in ways, ie, not enough attention or quality time with parents. I do understand kids will have their moments {fight, don't get along etc}. Kids are learning the self-control etc.

    I want to say go with your gut instincts. Protect him. We want to fight their battles, yet, we want them to grow and handle situations.

    Maybe have a playdate at your home as suggested. But no more than 2-hours for playdate {by that time, they want their own space and get on each other's nerves}.

    My 7-yr son who had a best friend "Eric" since Sept. One day Eric punches my son. His mother was upset what he did. I was too, but considered it an isolated incident. The next day Eric does it again, but kept punching even harder. I was livid. His mom was more than embarrassed. I told my son to cut-off his contact with Eric if he doesn't know how to behave/act. He was fine with that. They're still friends. His mother and I, we both keep a close on them when they play.

    I hope things work out whatever you decide.


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