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Is it me or is this crazy?


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Background:

Three neighbourhood boys attend the ps near us. Boys b1 and b2 are best friends. Boys b1 and b5 were briefly friends last year until b5 started to be quite mean (to everyone, not just b1). B5 now wants to be friends with b2, but b2 is scared of him and doesn't want to be friends. B5 pesters b1 and b2 every day at recess and lunch. Apparently b5 told the teacher that b1 is "hogging" b2.

 

The teacher's solution:

The teacher told the boys they need to divide their time so b5 has time with b2. Mondays and Wednesdays b1 and b2 can play together, and Tuesdays/Thursdays b2 and b5 are to play together. Apparently it doesn't matter that b2 doesn't want anything to do with b5 because he is intimidated by him.

 

Does this seem crazy to you? When I heard about it the first thing I thought of was the recent conversation here about teaching our children they have to be nice (vs polite) to everyone even when we don't do that as adults. Do b2's feelings not matter in this? Is friendship something to be regulated by the school and scheduled on a calendar?

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That is preposterous and if this were my child I would elevate the issue as high up as I needed to to resolve it. The teacher cannot dictate a child be friends with another child.

 

B5 needs to learn that he cannot force someone to be friends with him. I am sympathetic to his plight if he has no one to play with, and I would absolutely put a stop to any mean behavior by the other children and require that they be civil to him. Requiring them to be friends and play together though is ridiculous and sure to backfire.

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It's a fair/OK idea for *some* friendship situations -- but not this one.

 

Situations it fits:

 

Encouraging *willing* children to include an outsider, or give someone 'another chance', or to provide children with social issues a few 'buddy' type relationships.

 

My DD initiated this herself when a less-liked semi-friend of hers (T) complained that my daughter was being hogged by other friends and excluding T. The difference is that my DD doesn't dislike T, and she *does* have some desire to be friendly to her (so T won't feel lonely, etc). No one is afraid of T -- it's just that T is a bit annoying to her peers.

 

Situations it does not fit:

 

Fear, bullying, intimidation. Using *uwilling* children as 'manditory friends' for outsiders.

Edited by bolt.
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I vote crazy.  Teacher needs to learn this phrase: "Well then, find someone else to play with!" She also needs to pay attention to the playground harassment that is going on, that could escalate badly. As a parent, I'd probably make an appointment with the teacher for a little friendly meeting, just to make sure she knows that a parent is paying attention and that the parent does not want b2 forced to comply; it could be she's not aware of the potential for bullying and is just trying to brush off a pesky fly. If this were an assignment for classroom group work, I wouldn't interfere, but to mandate free play time? Ludicrous.

 

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I'd personally prefer to see teachers stopping intimidation and bullying, along with "everyone can play" with everyone / or "you can't say, 'you can't play'" type rules. Requiring a one on one between two children where one is afraid makes no sense, and also sounds like it causes B1 to be excluded in place of B5 being excluded.

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Soooo wrong.  Sooo harmful.  B5 needs help learning how to make friends and how to respect boundaries.  He does not need to be handed a child that is being forced into being "friends".  He isn't learning anything healthy with that and the other boy is being placed in a VERY unhealthy situation.  No, just absolutely no.

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I would guess that the teacher doesn't have a full understanding of the situation, and that b5 indicated to her that he was being left out. I don't think her solution is a good plan in any case (it sounds like a custody arrangement!), but I do think she is likely missing information. 

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Teacher is wrong.  If teacher wants b5 to have productive experience dealing with others, teacher should put b5 in short group projects or gym teams and coach b5 as appropriate.  Teacher should spread b5's needy time around all the kids in the class.  Teacher should tell b5 that friendships need to happen naturally and maybe his best friend will be someone entirely different from b1.

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If I were the parent of B2, then I would be talking to the teacher adult-to-adult (without kids) about the issue and let the teacher know that my kid has my permissions to NOT be friends and to NOT play with any child they choose.   I agree with the others - kids can be taught to be civil and to still hold their ground on who they spend time with.

 

It reminds me of years ago when my kids came home telling me all about how their school had implemented "Kelso's Choices" as a way of learning mediation strategies.  I had to explain that - in spite of what the teacher said - my kids were not obligated to let some other kid punch them multiple times just because they hadn't worked through all the Choices yet!

 

BTW - if B2 was not my kid, I would just stay out of it.  Other parents, other strategies, IMO.

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BTW - if B2 was not my kid, I would just stay out of it.  Other parents, other strategies, IMO.

 

Parent of B1 might also have an interest in this. B1 will be losing a significant of friend time to someone who was formerly mean to him.

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It's nuts, and I don't see how that teacher is going to "force" someone to spend time with anyone at recess.  I think my kids would have just sat there not speaking with their hands folded the entire time if some teacher tried that stunt on them.

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Just curious.......... did you hear this version of the story from one of the boys, one of the parents or the teacher? I'd be curious to see if the versions all match up........

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Just curious.......... did you hear this version of the story from one of the boys, one of the parents or the teacher? I'd be curious to see if the versions all match up........

From one of the parents, who had spoken to the teacher directly about the issue.

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I have to believe that the teacher doesn't know that b2 doesn't want to be friends with b5 and furthermore, that she thinks he is caught in the middle of the two boys and is trying to help.

 

Because otherwise, I just can't fathom her rules.

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so teacher is setting up two days a week when B5 can bully B2 excusively?

 

I really don't like it when adults get involved in kid freindships unnecessarily.  I can appreciate that sometimes kids need help - as described above, when they WANT to spend time together.  But forcing kids to play with people they don't like?  That's not on.

 

My standard response to X won't play with me is X doesn't have to play with you. 

 

What happened to Bs 3 and 4?

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There was an article probably about a year ago about a movement in schools to discourage "best friends." As in, if they saw 2 kids getting too close, they would actually prohibit those kids from spending (whatever they deemed as) too much time together. It was completely bizarre.

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Who's going to supervise this and make sure each kid is getting their play time? As a former teacher, this sounds like an excellent way to make life more difficult for the teacher. Blech.

 

It's all wrong. I feel bad for b5 who apparently doesn't have very good social skills. But when you're not nice, other kids don't want to play with you. Sorry if that hurts. I think it's fine to encourage b1 and b2 to include b5. Sounds like he needs good friends and needs good behavior modeled to him. But to force this arrangement is just icky.

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Eight

This is an age where they need to work it out themselves, unless physical or emotional abuse are present. I walk my kids through scenarios and their emotions, but I wouldn't dictate behavior unless it could lead to harm.

 

ETA: IOW, the teacher's solution is crazy.

Edited by ErinE
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