Monday, April 30, 2007

Parenting advice? Please?

Ordinarily, this is the type of thing I'd take to my not-even-close-to-anonymous personal blog, but since the child in question has a mother who reads that blog, that's probably not the best idea... so here I am, asking for parenting advice on an IF blog...

G has this friend, 'Junior'.

Junior is a pain. I know that sounds harsh to say about a three-year-old, but he is. He's kind of a bully, and G usually gets the brunt of that, while Junior's mom is oblivious til G gets fed up and retaliates, sending Junior running to his mom.. and all of a sudden then she notices the boys are fighting.

Naturally, they're 'just being boys', oh how cute.

Cute, my arse.

I have severely limited the amount of time the boys play together. G is not allowed to play with Junior any more unless I'm around to head off problems. I refuse to encourage him to fight (although B's suggestion is that if G just thwaps the hell out of Junior a time or two, maybe he'll quit getting picked on), and I refuse to parent someone else's child - i.e., I'm not going to step in until it's MY child being aggressive, save for removing G from the situation... so my best solution so far has been to closely monitor their time together and end the play date when G starts getting upset or aggressive.

Problem is, G has come away from this with a sense that being kept from his friend is punishment. This morning, he asked to play with Junior, and I told him that today wasn't a good day... naturally, I got the pathetic-boy look, a couple tears and a promise that he'd be good.

How on earth do I communicate that HE is not the main problem? I'm not a totally oblivious parent, I know that G is not entirely innocent, but he's reactive, not instigative.* He also doesn't fight with any other child he interacts with, which leads me to believe that I have a fairly normal kid on the aggression scale.

I have searched for other little boys his age in the area, thinking that if we could replace the problem friend, life would be easier.

I have not found any.

I know that when pre-k starts next year, G will have more child interaction, but for now, he gets his speech class (which consists of G and one younger child who is nearly nonverbal, and apparently completely uninteresting to my son), and his heavily supervised play dates with Junior.

.. that's the only reason I have not completely ceased contact with Junior.

For the life of me, I can't understand why G would WANT this friendship, but he does.

.. and for the life of him, he can't understand why I am turning down potential play dates, when in actuality, it's because I can't stand the thought of dealing with Junior... particularly when I know that whatever happens, G will end up being the one disciplined, and Junior will get a pat on the head and a 'boys will be boys' speech.


*G has been known to taunt Junior... like, Junior will get mad and throw a toy at G. If he does not connect, G will triumphantly crow "HA! You missed!" .. and then come running to me when Junior decides that it's easier and more painful to punch G. So yeah, he's not innocent.


DD said...

A couple of things: my son had a similar relationship with his "best friend" which started when they were just newborns. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try to make kids get along with each other, some just don't and never will, no matter if they were friends from the beginning of time. My son still says he misses his "friend" and when they come into town (they moved away last year), I limit their time together to about an hour. After that they get on each others nerves. Maybe if you had a time limit Junior and G can play, you wouldn't have to wait until things get sketchy.

Another idea is to approach Junior's Mom and present the problem as if you've noticed G's behaviour towards Junior to avoid getting her defensive. "You know, I've noticed G sometimes antagonizes Junior. Is there something we can do to improve their play time?" You'll be able to gage better how to proceed depending on her response. If she says, "Yeah, I've noticed G picks on Junior," it's time to wean the two as play dates. If instead she says, "I think it's Junior is is antagonizes G, but I'm not sure what we should do," then obviously she's willing to work together for a solution.

Krista said...

Hmmmm... I think without the mom being willing to acknowledge and do something about the problem it will be very difficult to fix. So your question really becomes how to explain it to G so that he understands he is not being punished. There is where I run out of ideas, never having been a parent yet. If I think of something brillant I will get back to you, otherwise I will be checking regularly to see what other people say!

Elizabeth said...

If you are willing, you could try the reverse approach and say something like. "I feel like G is being aggressive with Junior, do you see this as a problem?" If you reversed it maybe the mom wouldn't feel threatened to evaluate the interactions and then notice the negative interactions... then you can deal with it from there. Other than that, my only real suggestion (as a teacher and a parent) would be to clearly communicate with your son that it's not nice to treat others the way that he is being treated (and you don't like to see him being pushed around and put down) and if he chooses to walk away, he can do so and you support him. Kinda deep for a three-year-old, but I think that he would probably "get" it. Or you could just tell him the truth then let him tell Jr in front of his Mom (haha). Good luck!