Boys are a law unto themselves. N definitely knows his own mind and he’s gone through life so far, being easy going. So easy going about everything including friends.
I find watching him develop and his friendships change really interesting. I so should have been an anthropologist watching people! He’s always got on well with people. Probably because he’s pretty even tempered, adapts pretty well and is usually happy to be led.
I despaired in the past, because I worried that he’d be taken advantage of – with young children taking toys off him that he was playing with, and he’d let them go without quibbling. Thankfully he does stand up for himself a bit, although I haven’t yet seen him argue with other children. It’s more that he’d come and have a gripe with me.
The general trend of N’s friendships have followed some simple rules.
N’s rules for friends:
1. Don’t go out of your way to make friends, let them come to you.
Not what I would recommend because it could backfire as everyone else gets bored of trying. But it’s a good way of not really being fussed and just getting on in your own way.
2, Play hard and have lots of interests
N is a flitter. He’ll happily play with most things (dolls are the only things he’s never been interested in), so he’s quite versatile if people want to play different games. It also means he can pick and choose.
3, Play with older children
N’s school is quite small, so they do tend to play across near age groups. It’s helped that N’s older cousin is at the school, and that we go camping with families with older children in the school, so N is happy to play with older children at break times. He even plays football with them, and he’s not even that keen on them.
4, Be scornful of younger children
N makes me laugh, because at after school club he’ll happily get on well with the reception children who’re there. But otherwise he is very scornful of the fact that they ‘only play, they don’t do proper work like us year 1s’, despite the fact that I remind him that last year he spent pretty much all day everyday playing!
He hates it when a younger sibling of an older girl at school chases him obsessively around the playground or at parties. N has no patience but hasn’t yet worked out how to stop the boy doing it.
5, Stay clear of the naughty children
N knows exactly who plays up, and who he should avoid if he wants to keep getting VIP awards. That carries through to swimming lessons and usually tennis. He just plods on through, doing the work he should be doing, and sticks with the other children who do the same. Sensible boy. Fingers crossed he carries this through to secondary school!
6, Have good 1-2-1 friendships
N plays much better in smaller groups, and prefers playing with 1 child at a time. He has several very good friends, but hasn’t quite mastered understanding that sometimes they might have better friends as well.
7, Get bossy in groups
I think N’s like me and hasn’t got much patience if people aren’t playing fairly or doing what they should. It’s mostly noticeable at tennis when he starts telling people what they should be doing. And it sounds like if groups are working together at school, sometimes he will make his voice heard and suggest the game that they are playing. Let’s hope he isn’t seen as the bossy or do-gooder when the children grow up a bit and get wise to that kind of thing.
8, Refuse to follow the crowd
If he doesn’t want to play a game he won’t. It doesn’t worry him to have to play on his own if he doesn’t want to play someone else’s game. And if his best friend is following the older girl he has a crush on, around the playground, N won’t join him. Instead he’ll just find something else to do (although he’ll likely have a gripe about it too).
9, Just let whatever happens, happen
N just seems very chilled out about friendships. He might make a comment about someone not playing with him, or not being able to join in a game, but it’s always different people on different days and he seems to be over it straight away. If he can go through life with some really good friendships, and then let others move in and out of his life, understanding that we all move on, it’s a good attitude to have.
I know my friendships as a girl were more bitchy and underhand. Generally I had a good group of friends around where I lived, and at school. But there were always a few nasty comments, and moments of being ostracised. But I didn’t really care. It might have hurt to be called a boffin, and then one person tell all the others to run away from me. But that was it, I thought they were the stupid ones, it was their loss. I just went home and read a book. Next time outside all was ok again, the spiteful girl moved away and the rest of us were all friends again.
Not showing I cared helped, and I had a lot of very good female and male friends through both secondary school, 6th form and uni. I still have some of those friends now. Some I still see and we’d do anything for each other, some we’ve discovered friendships again after finding ourselves living back in our home areas again post children. But I’ve gained and lost friends outside of a few.
My brother in contrast has the same friends he largely had from early on in secondary school. None live around him, many are abroad, but they’re still as supportive as they were back then. He’s had a few via work and social life, but as a boy there never seemed to be any nastiness at school.
I’m hoping this is what N will have. And that he’ll realise that it is important to look out and make the effort with friendships if you both thing they’re worthwhile holding onto.
How do your children make friends or get on with people? Do they have lots of friends or just a few?
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Some great rules for children to consider, with our son it’s a bit different. He has a set friendship group and he tends to like to dominate the play but otherwise he is beginning to let go and go with the flow a little more.
It sounds like N has got friendship sussed! I love that he has so many strategies for making friends. Letting friends come to you sounds like a fairly high risk strategy, but as you say if he’s not that bothered, it doesn’t really matter!
He just can’t be bothered. It never mattered at nursery, they all just mucked in. But at school he’s realising that friendships change, and he won’t always be included in games.