Problems during playdate

Gigi - posted on 11/09/2012 ( 6 moms have responded )

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I have a question on how to deal and what to do with issues I have been having at our playdate.

I have an almost 3 year old girl and she is very social. From the time she could walk, other children (all ages) interested her. She would look at them from afar, and if she had opportunity would immediately go to them and observe and copy their play. She now spends 1 full day a week at the kind of small private nursery (with other toddlers) and 3 half days at playgroup (again with 2-4 age group) and enjoys it very much.



Now, what I have issue with is one of our playdates - it happens once a week with 1 other mother and her daughter who is about 20months old. we have been meeting up for about half a year now. At the beginning I just thought she has to get used to us and that maybe she is very shy, but now I don't really know how to understand it and how to act.

This is how our playdate goes - the first half an hour little girl will just stand in one place and if my daughter comes near her she will run away (which makes my daughter think she wants to play catch). After she will mostly cling to her mother. She will occasionaly take toys from my daughter (never directly, but as soon as she gets distracted) and then run to her mother (when my daughter wants to retrieve them) so she can hold them. Her mother in return tells my daughter that she can not have the toy (she doesn't always notice what happens). All this results in my daughter to become more "agressive" towards the end (not hitting) and snatch toys from little girl and overall to be agitated and not like her normal self.

Little girl also shows no interest into my daughter (as far as looking at what she does or coming close to her), the only interest she shows is to know where my daughter is so she can withdraw to other side of the room. During the playdates she will have about 5-10 tantrums and occasionally go into full panic attack where she can barely breathe for minor reasons -such as her mother not pickiing her up immediately or my daughter standing close to her.



I know that usually this story is from other perspective, but I just don't know anymore what to do. Every time we have playdate, my daughter is told not to touch her (she pets her hair), to let her alone, she is told not to take toys from her (while she is rarely told that), and in the end of the playdate she is confused and agitated and the rest of the day she is more difficult and unhappy.

I feel like this is influencing her in a negative way and somewhat gives her the idea of double standard. I don't want to tell her not to touch her or not to interact with her, while if I don't little girl will start one of her tantrums.

I know that they are different age groups, and I understand that some kids are more "shy" than others and I understand that they need different assurances. But my daughter is not even 3 years old, she is small child as well and I don't think she should/can "understand" or be different around her.



What should I do?

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Starr - posted on 11/09/2012

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Honestly, if the playdate is not enjoyable for your daughter and yourself I would find someone else to have a playdate with.

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Keri - posted on 11/11/2012

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This doesn't sound like a play date at all. Have you talked to the other mom about it? Maybe it's time to move on, the little girl obviously really don't want to play WITH your daughter, which is what a play date is about in the first place (getting kids together so they can play together), and it's really affecting your daughter. Kids this age don't need to be in that sort of environment.

Gigi - posted on 11/11/2012

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Thank you for detailed answer! I will try to work on "the fairness" with toy taking (and on enduring tantrums on my side) and on explaining to my daughter not to touch her. Great tips!

We already tried once giving them activity to do, they did some painting and that worked ok, but for some reason we haven't done it since. It is a great idea to try to incorporate some organised activity into playdate, even with different ages it should occupy them for a while.

I don't want to stop with playdate, especially since two of them have different personalities (I also think its good for my daughter to learn that everyone is not the same). I will make the changes and hope for the better!

Gigi - posted on 11/10/2012

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Ariana, thanks for the answer. Yes, the playdate is at our houses, we take turns, each week at other house. I will try to organise only multiple of toys to be out and to employ "no safe-keeping" advice as well.



I know they are far apart in their development, its not that them not playing "together" got my attention (my daughter has only recently started playing "with" as opposed to "next to" other children). Its that the little girl seem only comfortable if my daughter is at the other side of the room.



When I said that the other girl takes toys when my daughter gets "distracted", I didn't mean that my daughter actually walks away from the toy, but more like turns her head toward me if I am telling her something and the little girl takes the toy at that moment and runs to her mother. Her mother usually only notices "running towards her" so she "protects the toy". I tried correcting her, but then the tantrum happens so i kind of gave up.



I don't think that my daughter at 2 years 9 months has capacity to understand "the other side", empathy is developed after the age of 3. She sees the difference, thats true and behaves less "lively" and interactive when we are all together, but in the end of the day I think she just feels rejected - not because the little girl doesn't play "interactively" but because every reaction is negative one - pushing away, running away, crying if she comes close.



She will pet her on her hair if the little girl cries, in a "it's ok" gesture, I can work on explaining that she shouldn't do that.



As for "sensitivity" of the little girl - do you think that will change for the better? I have been around children and this is not really just being "shy" but more like being scared of my daughter. And yes, little girl behaves like that with all other children (baby and toddler size) that she comes into contact.

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