Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Observing but not intervening

(Goblin is nearly 4)
Goblin and I took an outing the other day to a country park near us. He'd asked to see his friends but I hadn't organised anything in advance and failed to find anyone free. So we just went together.
Once we got there Goblin realised there were lots of other children around and went in search of a play mate.

It fills me heart with joy to see my sociable little fellow making friends so easily. He never bothers to ask their name or their age. Those factors aren't important to him as long as they are happy to play. He played with little children, digging sand and working together to make a huge hole. And he played with older children, adventurously holding onto a spinning 'witches hat' with a bunch of pre-teens who rescued him after he flew off mid spin.
But there is another side to watching my son play with other children. A sad side. Watching when children reject his advances and shut him out of their games. That hurts me as much as it must hurt Goblin. But I can't intervene. I can't force a child to like my child or want to play with him. When he was younger I would intervene, to show both parties how to play nicely. But now he is choosing to play with a wider age range so he needs to work these things out for himself. Some children will want to play, and some won't. I have to let him find his own way.
In my heart I want to rush up and tear him away from the "nasty" kids, and cuddle him. But my head reminds me that this won't help. All I can do after a set back is reassure him of our love for him and hope that helps to heal the pain.
I'm sure this is one of many things that I will discover I cannot do for my child. I can't give him friends. I can give him tools and phrases to help him make friends. And I can try and build his confidence so he can talk to new children and bounce back from rebuffs. But he's on his own. He has to forge his own way and I have to sit back and watch and hope it isn't too painful.


  1. This is something our family is struggling greatly with at the moment. We moved last year, before the move our son was a popular guy. We were active in several playgroups and children's classes, and were frequently invited out for playdates and parties with the people we met through those activities. But after the move we were unable to find any local playgroups or children's classes. We're struggling as a family to establish any ties to the local community. We frequent the playground several times a week and our son plays with other children there but we've been unable to establish any "friends." No one we could exchange email or phone number with, no one we could invite for a playdate.

    There is nothing sadder than your child telling you he is lonely. And the level of mom-guilt for it is just horrid.

  2. I do the same thing but my husband hovers all the time! Wraps him in cotton wool and doesn't realise he's hindering his social skills.

  3. such a tough thing to watch...such an important thing to observe and to allow your child a chance to experience all the good and bad in the world. kids are pretty amazing and resilient. oh and really good problem solvers if we let them...

  4. Fab post - it's a tough one isn't it? But the independence to make friends in a room of strangers is an amazing gift!


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