Advice on 3yr old Play date

Diane - posted on 02/12/2013 ( 8 moms have responded )

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First off, thank you for taking the time to read this. I hope most will leave their two cents on my concern.

I have a newly turned 3yr old. We have a friend who is also 3, a week older than my girl who we frequent often for play dates.
Our gatherings just don't seem to be going smooth, or what I'm expecting. I find myself very frustrated and in a bad mood once little girl and mom leave.
Typical scenarios...
-Little girl comes over, flat out doesn't want to play. My daughter loves pretend play and happily invites/asks little girl to play. Little girls says no. Would much rather sit or stand alone and not engage in any activity. My daughter invites her to a tea party, No. This goes on for 30 minutes. Instead of her mother really encouraging her to play she tells my daughter to leave her alone.
Finally she decides to play with toys but doesn't want my daughter to play. My daughter gets frustrated because she really wants to play with a friend who is supposedly over to play so this leads to snatching. I try to diffuse the situation when I catch it and encourage sharing. When the other mom catches it she immediately scolds my daughter and tells her to leave the toy and her daughter alone. Does not encourage group play or sharing. This really frustrates me.

-Snack time. I always have snacks available for the girls. All little girl wants to do is eat all our food. I monitor my children's snacks and consider myself a reasonable mom when it comes to this. I give a good size snack that will hold them out till lunch/dinner. I tell the mom this. After little girl finished her snack she asks her mom for more. If mom says no, she throws a bratty fit. Mom looks at me and smile (smile translates as asking me to give her daughter more) so I give in. This comes across as double standard to my daughter who knows this is a no no. I feel this mom should put her mom pants on and stop making me be the bad mom. I later feed the girls lunch. If you finish your meal you get a goodie snack (chocolate, cookie, etc)- well my daughter always does her daughter doesn't. Mom knows this. I am forced to give her daughter a treat which makes me look bad in front of my daughter because she gives me that puzzled look.

-Routine. We have a daily routine. In the morning we do 1hr of preschool cirriculum and thats it. I try not to push that too much on my 3yr. My daughter knows this and school always seems to be a fun activity versus plain boring school. Little girl comes over and if she doesn't want to participate in any play and gets bored she asks her mom to do school. (She came over once when we were in the middle of it and I had her participate with us- that is how she know, otherwise she wouldn't.) She asks to do school when we are not currently doing that because I invited them to play not do school and her mom gives me this look again and I say politely, no. Her mom then gives me this look and makes me out to be the bad mom because I won't do what her daughter wants to that very second.

At first I thought it was that her daughter needed to get use to us but its been 6months and I'm growing very tired because things have not changes, Your thoughts?

Is this normal? What am I missing? It seems like all this does is leave my daughter confused as to what is expected of her.

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Gigi - posted on 02/14/2013

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I would do playdates for 2 reasons only - either the kids are friends and like spending time with each other or the moms are friends and like spending time with each other.
It sounds that in your case, neither applies so I'd suggest you either talk openly to the mother about the issues (and hope they get resolved) or stop/cut down playdates. i don't know how often you meet, if its on weekly basis, you can cut it to once every few weeks. In the end of the day, you and your kid are not there to play therapist for another child, especially since her mother does nothing to encourage her.

If you decide to continue them, there are few things you can try. Plan the time of playdate so it crosses only one meal (snack or lunch). I mean, how long are these playdates anyways that they are there before the snack and after lunch? I'd cut the time to about 2 hours max.
Before they come have fruit in a bowl on the table and if the little girl wants to eat and its not the snack time, you can offer her fruit. When it comes to actuall meal, see can you be less organised - it won't damage your daughter once in a while. I had very similar situation with food (wanting to eat all the time) and thats how I solved it.

You haven't mantioned, but are the playdates always at your house? I would rotate them to give equal opportunity for kids.

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Julia - posted on 03/04/2014

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Your daughter might be slightly ahead developmentally. It sounds like this little girl is still doing paralle play, while your daughter is ready to pretend play together. I agree with the mom who said play dates are either because the moms are friends or the kids are. I would not invite them for anymore play dates unless the other mom does some inviting too. How long are these play dates? At 3 an hour or two is plenty and you are not obligated to provide a meal. If you decide to invite next time invite for an after lunch play date. It is fine if you are have strict food, and other routines with your kids, however it is also important to explain that different families have different rules and so and so follows her mommy's rules. You want to be careful about your own tendency to judge other families situations or rules. I tell my son that as long as I am there my rules apply and they might be different than his friends families rules. If I am not there the rules of the friends family are the rules he is obligated to follow, sometimes they are more strict, sometimes they are more lenient, but when they are in charge it is their rules. Overall if you are that frustrated I wouldn't extend anymore invitations. If you are are inviting because you want a playmate for your daughter and this girl seems the only one available at the moment I would look for some more mommy and me type groups. Sometimes it takes a few misses until you find the right playmates.

Diane - posted on 02/25/2013

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Thank you fellow Moms for your advice.
First off - I went back and re-read my previous posts - I apologize for all the messy typos. Its hard typing from a mobile device. I'm surprise you all understood the point I was trying to get across :)

Getting children to become friends is just as hard as trying to make friends with their mothers.

Update.
I tried a different approach with this set of friends. Daughter & I invited them to lunch and to see a children's play (a place that is away from home in a different environment). I thought the girls might really enjoy this and mommies would get to visit. i planned for lunch with the two girls at Panera Bread and then a play. At the end of the day, the Mom commented on how pricey the eatery was (I can see that) and how the play just wasn't the ideal activity. My daughter's outlook? She loved it! And so did I. We can't wait to go back. Spending $18 for both my daughter and I on an occasion "Mommy/Daughter Date" I think is ok. I wanted to eat at a place my daughter would feel was special, where she felt like a big girl. I think she was disappointed because her daughter didn't eat the food bought (again, this is why I'm firm with my kids about eating habits. no problems when out in public). Same goes for the children's play. I felt like telling the mom...
"Come on, help me out here!" or "Name one thing your daughter does like?" or "You could thank me for driving you two an hour for entertainment and not charging you for gas!" OR "Complaining about the play? Really? It was FREE...because I paid for it and you weren't even worried about paying me back! As a matter of fact, you didn't!" Maybe she would have complained less about the eatery had I paid for that too.
I don't care about the money...just give forth some sort of effort. You want our daughters to be friends, you need to do your fair share. I feel like I'm done. She is a grown woman and I shouldn't have to explain my thoughts on common courtesy. UGH!!! Plotting ways to shake her off with out having to tell her directly.

Carissa - posted on 02/25/2013

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It sounds like the other mother definitely needs a few play date pointers herself. You sound like you have a very loving, outgoing and welm behaved child and other children who are the same way will benifit your daughter more. I would try and talk it out with the other mother. Express all of your concerns and leave no stone unturned. And if she scolds your daughter again for wanting to play I would kindly ask them to leave. You shouldn't set up a "play date" if you don't want another child playing with your child. It seems like the other mother is just trying to pawn off her daughter on you to get a break, but she has to be there to makes sure things go her way. I would not tolerate it if I were you.

Amy - posted on 02/23/2013

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It's sounds to me like the other mom is rude. And it's great to try and help an unsociable child, but not to your little girl's expense. Your little girl sounds sweet and nurturing, and she should be around people who encourage that. I would just stop the playdates since it's causing confusion and frustration for your daughter.

Diane - posted on 02/13/2013

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Thank you ladies! I appreciate your feedback :)
Let's see if I can remember all the questioned asked...
-why do we continue play dates? Our daughters are in the same weekly kindermusick class. My daughter is the most socially developed so she tends to show affection to all the children in her class. Little friend's mother feels my daughter is the key to getting her socially developed. Sure, I can see that. I sometimes feel as her mother puts to much pressure on us to get her daughter motivated. Ex. Music teacher moved my daughter to a more developed age group; little friend wasn't quite ready to be moved up but her mom asked to have her moved her up as well so the girls could stay together.
-snack and meals. yes, I agree, I am strict in this area. Three meals a day with two snacks in between. But it works so well for us, my girls are excellent eaters :( I simply thinks its rude that one of the first things they ask when they come over - is to eat. i spend most of my time in the kitchen feeding them.
Play dates are usually supervised because little friend wants to stay close to mommy at all times.

Gigi - posted on 02/13/2013

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I had (and still have) almost exact situation going on.
When it comes to playing, that one is difficult to solve. You could explain to your daughter that little girl will play when she is ready, but you can also talk to her mom and suggest she encourages her daughter to share and play together. I think it comes down a lot to how the parent reacts, and you could gently tell her mom that she should encourage the "play" with your daughter more. I know it is very confusing for your daughter, but in a way it is ok for her to see that not all kids play the same. Maybe you can suggest another game that both of them would like if the little girl doesn't like pretend play. You could ask her mom what does she like to play with - that way you also make clear to her that something is off and it should be dealt with. That said, if they really don't play together at all, maybe you shouldn't have playdates anymore. easier said than done though.

As for snacks, give what you usually give and if the little girl wants more, tell her mother to prepare it for her. That way your daughter sees that you are not having double standards, but the little girl gets more food. When the lunch time comes, forget the goodie snack and simply don't give it to anyone. Or even better have playdate shorter so they are not there when the lunch rolles in or have them come after lunch.
As for the school time, well, you can simply tell little girl that you already did school with your daughter so you won't be doing it at that moment. Her mother can do what she wants, you don't have that obligation. You could however incorporate some activities into playdate, such as painting or playing with clay. That way, they are doing something together.

Elfrieda - posted on 02/13/2013

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It seems like you're not friends with the other mom, and your daughters don't mesh well in their playing styles right now, so.... why do the play dates continue?

For the children's conflicts, I think it's just that they're in different socially developmental stages right now even if they are the same age, maybe influenced by their personalities. My son is a bit like your child, very eager to interact, and my friend's daughter wants a bit more space, so they clash a lot these days. But we moms like spending time together, so we figure they can learn to like each other! :) But if we were doing playdates solely for the children, I think it would be better to stop and find more compatible playmates.

Since you asked for opinions on what you wrote, I think that you're right to stay firm on not doing school with them, because they're there to play. Ignore the looks. But at snack/lunch, I think you might be being too controlling. Set out the food and you be in charge of what your daughter gets and let the other mom be in charge of what her daughter gets. (including the cookie)

I'm getting a strange feeling about the whole situation. Do you and the other woman sit there and watch the girls the whole time? Maybe if you left them in another room together and had some tea or something they would sort out their differences more easily.

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