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My Child's Friend Had a Bad Time at Our Playdate

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When kids give me two-thumbs-down on a playdate, I get a little miffed.

bratty girl

Guest blogger Christine: My kid had a playdate this weekend. When I asked her friend (as she was leaving) if she'd had a good time, she said, "No, I didn't" -- right in front of her mom. Whoa!

Whatever happened to manners?

Yes, I know: Kids will be kids. But this isn't the first time I've been "critiqued" on a playdate.

One time, a second grader who'd been at our house for all of fifteen minutes said, "I'm bored. There's nothing to do here." I called his mom to have her pick him up pronto.

Another time, during a sleepover, I was told at 2:00 AM (when I went in to soothe our guest after a bad dream), "I didn't want to sleep over here anyway. I wanted to go to Angela's house instead. She's my BEST friend."

A coworker's daughter had a sleepover where the 5-year-old guest told her, "This bed is way too UNCOMFORTABLE for me."

What is going on? I shudder to even THINK of my kids saying something like that on a playdate. I would be mortified.

I know that cocktail playdates are out-of-fashion these days, but this sort of behavior is driving me to drink.

What can you do? Momlogic's Dr. Wendy Walsh says, "Remember, kids are wired to be completely honest, and -- depending on their age -- may not have learned the subtle art of polite communication. Playdates can be valuable teaching moments. Correct the child without shaming them and place emphasis on the feelings of both parties in the conversation. So with a child who complains about being bored, you might say something to validate their feelings, followed by an explanation of how the comment might affect the listener."

You could say: "I see that you are feeling bored without the toys you have at home. But Johnnie was so excited to have you over, it might hurt his feelings to hear that you're not having a good time. Maybe instead of complaining, you can suggest something else you'd like to play with."

Have you encountered this sort of attitude on playdates? How did you handle it?

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
huh March 2, 2010, 8:45 AM

Makes me wonder what’s wrong with the authors house. Is she too strict? Is it actually boring? I mean, I could see one comment as a random thing but this many? Hmmmmmm…. maybe instead of wondering about a 5yr olds manners, maybe you should reexamine your own. Asl your child if they had a good time. If the guest didn’t… maybe your kid is the one with manner issues. It doesn’t just happen.

While I want my kids to be respectful. I would be mortified if they didn’t stand up for their own feelings, comfort, and speak their mind. Why should they lie to you to make you feel better? If it bothered your own child, she’d have said something - or maybe she is so conditioned now she wouldn’t. Maybe that’s something worth looking into.

GottaBeKiddin March 2, 2010, 9:40 AM

The previous commenter must be the parent of one of the rude, obnoxious children.

It’s completely inappropriate for any child over the age of 4 to be rude in the way you described, and I, too, would be horrified if my children behaved that way.

We’ve had kids over for playdates that encompassed the lunch or dinner hour. A very few of those friends have said things like, “Ew. I don’t eat ___.” Guess what, I’m not a short order cook, and if the food that I prepared doesn’t meet that child’s exacting standards, they can do without just as my kids do when they don’t like dinner. I go out of my way to offer a wide range of choices, but if Emily eats nothing but pizza, Emily had better have Mom pick her up soon.

Parents have taken the notion that their child is a special, one-of-a-kind beautiful flower that can do no wrong to the extreme of expecting everyone else to view the kids that way, too.

That’s okay. Just don’t expect that “do no wrong” child to be invited back to my home. We’ll find more grateful company, thanks.

Samantha  March 2, 2010, 10:10 AM

when i was little, we were always instructed to act grateful and polite when over at someone else’s house. even if we were “bored.” we were always to say “thank you for having me over.” if this little guest’s mother said nothing to her when she said this in front of her, i’d be a little shocked too! i understand your embarassment…and i’d certainly want to know why the kid didn’t have a good time, but i’d also feel bad for my child, who’s feelings would surely be hurt. sounds like a couple of too snobby friends, who need feather beds and a toys r us to make them happy. my mom would have slapped me if i’d have said something like that to someone who let me into their home.

Pamala March 2, 2010, 2:17 PM

Well God forbid a child be truthful though. My daughter has never said anything like this but if a child said it to me I wouldn’t be mad. Maybe I’m different but I understand children are fickle. They say what they mean and that’s more than fine. If a child said, “I’m bored.” or “This bed is uncomfortable” (neither of which I think is rude) I’d reply, “I’m sorry that you’re bored, what would you like to do?” or “I’m sorry the bed is uncomfortable, would another pillow help?”

If a child said to me that she didn’t have a good time I’d say “I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your time here. Hopefully next time it will be more fun.”

I mean seriously, whether a kid enjoys a playdate or not doesn’t reflect on anything other than the legit feelings of that child. These feelings should be acknowledged, not told they’re wrong or rude.

Children can still say they didn’t enjoy the stay and also say thanks for having me over.

Anonymous March 2, 2010, 5:18 PM

playdate = lame

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