Playdates at parks inclusion

When we're at parks with a friend, sometimes a third child will want to join. Sometimes my child and her friend are okay with it, but sometimes not. I don't know how much to force it. I feel bad for the other kid, but I also feel like it's just a playdate and they should be able to play with each other. It only gets more awkward when we kind of know the other kid. We've also been on the other side of it too. My child has seemed to accept it when the kids run off with each other or say no, but I know she's disappointed. What do you do? They're all early elementary school aged. Is there wording I should be teaching for inclusion or exclusion? Should I push inclusion more when they do know each other? I also know that this will be come back on them when the rejected child sees my child next...ouch. Signed, overthinking parent

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RE: Playdates at parks inclusion ()

That is a tricky situation that I have observed with my kid, primarily as the odd one out. My son (now 7) has always been an outgoing kid who enjoys playing with everyone and is not shy approaching other kids and playing with them. I observed this often when he was age 2-5 and we would go to playgrounds or Kindergym a lot.

I noticed that with sibling groups (or sometimes nanny share groups or best friend groups), there was a tendency for them to kind of team up and tell my son he couldn't play with them. And not in a way where they were objecting to something he was doing, i.e. he wasn't being rough or rude or anything. It was tricky because my value that I taught my son was that in a public place, anyone is allowed to play; you can't exclude a kid from part of the playground just because that kid is not related to you or one of your friends. However, I can't force other children to subscribe to my values, especially if their parents support exclusion. I would just take deep breaths and remind myself that these kids were in fact preschoolers who would learn soon enough in kindergarten that yes they have to share the playground with everyone and no they're not entitled to sit next to their best friend all the time.

As it turns out, my son is very adaptable and generally found ways to interact positively with exclusionary kids so that they warmed up to him and the next thing I knew, they'd all be playing some game together. He still is this way.

If the kids in question are already in elementary school, then they almost certainly have heard about inclusion in the classroom. I would highly doubt your child's teacher actively supports exclusion of other children. Perhaps your child's teacher can tell you what kind of language the school uses about inclusion so that you are using consistent terminology.

In short, public playgrounds are public. Your living room is a better place for exclusive time.