My elder son loves to play TT and Badminton. He has picked up the basics of Table Tennis quite well from us but requires to learn more in badminton. He is a beginner. Now, he often wants mom and dad to play with him, and we can’t always find the time except weekends and even that is difficult these days. So, we told him to play with a good friend of his. This friend plays badminton well. We thought, it would be a good arrangement where both of them get to play both Table Tennis and Badminton with each other and learn as well. The fact that they were good friends made it even better.
So, last weekend they give this a shot. After playing for more than an hour of TT with his friend, his friend said that he was tired and would play badminton later. Later was in the evening. First, the friend turned up wanting to play TT again. But, my son insisted that they play badminton in the evening. With a little persuasion, they went. After half an hour, I saw him sitting in the park on the verge of tears.
When we asked him, he said that his friend ridiculed his play because he was losing easily and instead called another boy to play with him and asked him to go away. All this did not happen very politely. We were really surprised because this good friend of his is generally a nice boy. What can we say! We had to say that we will be playing with him over the weekend and that will include badminton too. Yesterday, he chatted again with that friend, and he said that he does not wish to play with my son because he feels bored, as it is so boring to play with a novice!
It is really so sad that I have to teach my son about friendship and helping each other out. And, in the same vein teach him that he must not be taken advantage of, that exchanges must be fair and that even friends hurt you. Why do I need to teach him all this? Should he be knowing these things himself? Is he too naive? There are times when he comes home crying because a boy kicked him in the groin while playing or kicked him while playing football. I don’t want to interfere when kids have squabbles, but don’t I have to intervene when he gets hurt physically? But then boys play physical games all the time. I find myself having many chats with him because he is vulnerable and sensitive, prone to being hurt easily and crying. And, we can’t be around to protect him always.

Update: He is in a slightly awkward group. Children his age are shorter and play games like hide and seek etc. whereas with his taller build, he prefers football, TT and badminton. Those are generally played by older boys and that is where lies the problem. He makes his own friends, and I don’t remember telling him how to choose his friends. I only want him to know how to stand up for himself and not to suffer any form of abuse.

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41 Thoughts on “Friends!

  1. Physical abuse shouldn’t be tolerated at all. Talk to his friend’s parents and the teachers and put an end to it.

    For the emotional issues, talk to him often, give him opportunities to mix with local kids, friends’ kids etc who do not necessarily go to the same school. Supervised play dates help to some extent.

    Also, don’t fan every little complaint he brings to you. When he is at fault, teach him to correct it and when he is not, teach him to tolerate it.

    Also, sit the siblings down and tell them how important it is for them to be best friends to each other.

    Above all, pray for him, with him, for divine protection and for good friends whom he can enjoy. This is what I do.

  2. That was a lovely comment by NRI Girl. Practical and foolproof — well almost foolproof because we can never prepare children completely for the rough and tumble of the world. But teaching them to stand up for themselves is important. Also if he plays with older children, you could take one of them into confidence and ask him to keep an eye out for him,without telling this to Sid of course. πŸ™‚

    • I agree about her advice being so bang on. The second part of what you say can be tried, but it is difficult. Btw, Siddharth reads my blogs, well most of them :).

  3. I don’t know what to say. My son who is very sensitive has to be ‘told’ how to defend himself. Bullying at the age of 5 or so is common now. But the best part is kids forget easily; though we cannot. We are teaching him now how to give back bcoz he is targetted quite easily as he wears specs. So some kids play with his specs, some untie his shoe laces etc. But then after some time, they are best friends again. πŸ™‚
    At school his teacher keeps an eye and otherwise we do. I hope soon he will be able to defend himself

    • I had to do the same when he was younger. He was picked on very often and bullied for trivial reasons. I had to ask him to give it back. My son is no one’s punching bag, and I taught him to hit back. But, if someone comes with a complain of his bullying then he has had it. There is a boy who is a troublemaker in his class, and the teacher takes him very lightly. He is basically someone who is disruptive to most kids. So, we had to teach Sid to take care of himself and his belongings.

  4. Anonymous on February 7, 2012 at 7:44 am said:

    I am very shy and I dont mingle too much with women in the apartment. Its a hi and bye and then I dont know what else to talk. They have their own groups too. I donna if this personality of mine will rub on the friends my boy makes etc .. I worry about this sometimes.

    I know a mom who mingles very welll with people but her son is v shy. When I was talking to her, some boy comes and says something about her son and I could see how she didnt like it but couldnt react much.
    hah living in an apartment is v v tough. need some fine balancing..

    • I think your personality will not reflect upon your child’s. Both my kids are so different in their interaction with other kids. One is more outgoing but easily hurt. The other one is very shy, but never takes crap from anyone. He can watch out for himself.

      I don’t think that parents need to be defensive. Because, it is in our interest to take the criticism and if genuine to work at making our child a better person. If we take up for our child even in wrong situations, then we are teaching him to do wrong and get away with it. A lot of times our own actions say a lot to the child.

    • But i think it does impact in a way. we have a lady who hardly mingles in the apt complex. by coincidence both her son and her daughter hower around her and dont play with other kids. and moms that chat so freely, and take part in kitty parties etc tag along kids. Such kids become more outgoing.

      but this is what I observe. i can be wrong too..

    • I think it varies with kids. In our community, kids have groups irrespective of their parents’ equations with each other. As a matter of fact, I don’t know the parents of most of my son’s friends. It could be true or not :).

  5. Rachna, you are lucky to have a boy who will in matter of time learn to manage ! I have a daughter who would make the boys cry while playing, when she was their age:)

    • I hope you are right. I have been consciously working on this trait of his since childhood. And, it is not easy to handle when your child is a target of bullying.

  6. I echo NRIgirl .Rachna I feel that all the kids go through this stage at one time or other .With a mother like you he will pass this and will learn to manage.

    • thank you, Kavita. But when a child comes to you and looks at you for guidance, we have to help them. We can’t say that experience will teach you. The balance is what I’m seeking. How to help yet hold back, support yet allow to be free…

  7. I am not a parent so I am not quite sure what to say, but I did go through this as a kid. I think kids learn through experience… lessons are learned not taught.

  8. Well, its really difficult to teach a child the way he/she understand. And i think every child wouldn’t learn things the usual way as they should, sometimes parents have to teach them and encourage them like you do with your boy.

  9. i can relate to this post. Tan is still only 5 but i can see it coming:(

    your younger one is ‘shy but takes no crap’- wow…..hmmm……
    how kids are different – same parents – same upbringing styles – yet different approaches to life
    parenting is mind-boggling at times

    • its very sad to see n hear that…Kids being bullied or treated badly or even mocked ..its a shame on upbringing But I guess that’s how kids come to know difference between good n bad ..

    • It is indeed amazing that 2 kids brought up in the same family are so different, Sujatha. Parenting is the toughest job on earth. What you have at stake is most precious.

    • Bullying is on the rise. There is so much rage in the kids these days, and they pick on the meeker ones. It is so sad. But, we have to protect our kids.

  10. Your post reminded me of my son’s childhood and the same dilemmas I had.
    Your son’s friend is also right in a way,for some time learners have to be my son was always happy to be included in the team:) even if they made him stand on the boundary doing nothing much or made golkeeper…and then he started playing badminton and TT so well that he was always the captain of the team.

    Today times have changed , so even children have become very rude in telling, otherwise earlier the same thing was told in placating tones.

    Such sports bring the feeling of team work…if the friend was good so far, then may be look for boys who play in the same range….

    • Yes Renu, that is what my son did, doing small things around the field so that he can be included in the team. But there are always one or two hostile elements in the team. I am surprised that a child does not see that he is benefitting too. It is not as if he is being asked to be a good Samaritan, he is getting to learn something in the bargain too. Well there are 3 groups of boys — one is very old kids, one is his age and one slightly older. The slightly older group is the one he plays with these days.

  11. oh ur blog nd ur writeup s quite interesting….stucked n ur post and be ur follower nw

  12. Too much of sheltering the children will deprive them of their self confidence.Listen to what they tell but do not get involved unless he is physically hurt.Give advice how to tackle.The rough and tumble steel the kids to be brave

    • I agree. That is what we do, give advice and otherwise lay off. But there are times when he is physically hurt. That is when we approach the kid or the parent.

  13. I feel for him – as a child I had my share of not quite fitting in (for different reasons). And this weekend I had to ‘teach’ my 15 y.o. niece that getting good education does not necessarily guarantee success in life, and that money is not everything. It’s amazing how being around kids teaches us probably more that what we teach them πŸ™‚ Nice blog!

    • Haven’t we all faced that, not fitting in. I faced it too when I was younger. And, yes kids do teach us a lot. Just today, we had to go pull up a boy from 8th grade who had tried to intimidate him by strangling his neck all because that boy wanted a particular seat in the school bus. What kind of kids are around us these days?

  14. totally agree with KP: Too much of sheltering the children will deprive them of their self confidence.

  15. As a Mom, it’s tough not to get emotionally entangled in his little tussles with friends. Kids who single out your child, bully him unnecessarily.

    He will come across vicious teachers and much more. Yet you will have to stand aside and let him fight his own battles πŸ™‚

  16. I think he will slowly realise and find his own group by the trial and error method.

  17. This post remains me about my little brother he used to be the same later he has got to know and he has his gropu og friends now i am sure ur son will also surely pick the good friends πŸ™‚ Don’t worry

  18. Well Rachna, I am no expert in this matter. However, I think you could ask him to play the same games with some one of his age or slightly younger, and then see, how much patience he has playing with them, and then make him understand, that it is natural to feel like this and it is also tough for slightly better playing children to keep up the pretense that everything is fine, for they too are children, they want to improve themselves, it is natural for them to lose interest in playing with a novice. You know with so little time for extra curricular activities, everyone wants to make the most of the time available for them,and we cannot blame them.
    The best option to improve your son’s playing skills is, to make some really more quality time(I read that you do make time for him) from your side and your husband’s side, however busy you both might be.
    You see as parents you would not mind putting up with his mistakes as a learner, and also make him feel that he has to do better, at least if not for himself but, for you as he will see your sincerity in teaching him.
    I remember, how patient, my husband and my kids who are all very seasoned car drivers, were with me when they took it upon themselves to polish my driving skills, (for the driving schools as you know are quite useless one went to them only to get a license).
    I used to feel very guilty for not being able to pick up, the things they so patiently took pains to teach me, for i knew in my heart, that if i were in their place, I would have given up
    So, I think talking to him about his friend and about his needs, and the limited time that is available at everybody’s disposal, you will surely be able to make him understand.

    • Yes, you are right. I like your first point. I actually told him to teach cycling to his younger brother and then explained that he has to think from his point of view and not get frustrated. You are right there. My only contention was that the child– his friend was also getting to learn something back. It was not charity that he was teaching; he was learning a game too. And, commonsense says that kids normally understand at least that logic.
      I am actually putting him in the badminton class during his summer vacations. As much as I’d like to train him, I don’t have the time on a regular basis, as I’m really deluged with work just now, and this is my own business. I can’t cut that out.

      I agree with everything else you said. Nice experience with driving lessons for you :). I can’t imagine my husband being patient if he had to teach me. He just wouldn’t have the patience :). His patience will be lesser with the family.

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