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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Do Kids Affect Kids?

I felt like an historical southern lady yesterday. We had visitors in the morning, then a nap, then visitors in the afternoon.  I didn't serve any tea though.

The twins and I ran into one of our neighbors around 10:30 a.m. She has a little girl just two months older than the twins, who wanted to come and play.  Only, she didn't.  She played with the babies' toys, but she didn't play with the babies.  I chalk this up to kids being still too young to really interact positively with each other.  My kids play with each other constantly, giving me the false sense that they are socialized. But, in reality, it takes them some time to warm up to strange children.  Still, with guidance from me, they were open to sharing with their new friend and tried to engage her here and there.

Still, it was two against one.  I completely understand the little girl's shyness.  Her mother and I talked quietly about our lives. The girl usually goes to daycare, but the mom was off that day and kept her home.  The babies were sitting on my lap at that point, watching the girl play with their puzzles over the arm of the chair.  They were fascinated because she was actually trying to put the puzzles back together - something they haven't yet thought about.

All of a sudden, the girl looked up at my kids and said loudly, "Get out of my face!"

Shocked silence.

I felt bad for the mom, who scrambled to have her daughter apologize (which she didn't).  It's hard for me to gauge what's appropriate and what's not appropriate, since the twins hardly ever have playdates (something I'm trying to remedy).  The mom was so embarrassed, but she shouldn't have been.  Little kids are little kids. They pick up sayings in random places, and they're still trying to place where they can say certain things and express certain emotions.  It was more than clear that the girl was good natured, she was just shy and protective of the toys she was playing with.

That being said, I hope I don't hear "get out of my face!" from either of the twins in the near future.  Do kids pick up behaviors and language from other kids?  I know the answer is yes, but do they do it after only one time?

It's hard to walk into a home with ready-made playmates and feel comfortable.  My twins have unspoken rules to games they made up a year ago. When another child doesn't understand the rules or how to take turns in a way the twins deem acceptable, they get upset.  For instance, while Natalina knows that the orange ball is Dulce's, and Dulce knows that the yellow ball is Natalina's, a stranger isn't going to know that or understand why she can't touch the orange or yellow ball but touching the purple ball is fine.

All in all, I think it was a really good experience, and I hope to do it again.  For those of you that manage playdates on the regular, how do you socialize the kids effectively?  I find the twins do much better with my friend's child, a boy a few months younger than them.  He came over in the afternoon, and they all colored and played with blocks as a happy three-baby unit.  They also got some good tickling!

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  1. My kids have been home with me all their lives. Birthday parties and family get togethers were all they really had contact with other children close to their age. When they were younger it would take much longer to get them to play together, by the end they were all buddy buddy. Since they are getting older now, it takes less time to adjust to playing with new kids or even kids they know.

  2. LOL.. I am reminded of my son when he was about 2 and a half... he was allowed to watch Shrek at grandma's (thanks, mom) and picked up a line which he shouted (Shrek-style) at the kids at preschool during circle/song time... "STOP SINGING! It's no wonder you don't have any friends." Yes, the direct quote from the movie... after ONE viewing. The teachers had no idea where this came from. I about peed myself when I figured it out... but was, of course, extremely concerned until then :)

    I try to help the kids not physically hurt each other during playdates and use a lot of distraction techniques to facilitate taking turns (easier concept for little ones to grasp than sharing, I think). As far as getting a 2 year old to apologize... they don't entirely understand that yet... compassion has not really developed very much. They are still in that ME self-absorbed stage. This is not based on formal education... lol... just on the 10 kids in our family and their playmates :)

  3. my two-year-old is an only child, but we play with other kids a lot (playgroup, moms club, the kidzone at the Y, part-time day care) and we definitely have to learn how to socialize on an ongoing basis.

    my biggest thing is never making him apologize for something and always modeling the kind of things i would like him to learn to say.

    i know not making him apologize probably makes me look like a bad parent, but i actually believe that when he smacks another kid because that kid is climbing on the toy he wants to be on, he is not sorry. so, i don't want him to learn to say things he doesn't mean just to make me happy or to fit societal expectations. that said, it's totally not ok to just smack kids around, so i tell him that. and i give him an alternative. "say, 'excuse me. i am playing with this right now.'" and he will usually repeat that and on we go. it happens multiple times during every play date, but hopefully, he is learning how to handle conflicts and maybe other kids are picking up some tips, too!

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