Hey Mommas! I want to talk about something today that I observed over the weekend. My son is an only child and he’s 3. He is at an age where he loves playing with other kids, but because he has no siblings, he doesn’t have the opportunity all that often. He really looks forward to outings because he gets the chance to interact and play with other kids. However, something I noticed this weekend has me a little bummed out for him. I am wondering if anyone else has observed or experienced this. Kids aren’t encouraged to play with other kids anymore. Why is this? Let me explain our weekend experience with this.
On Sunday, we took my son ice skating, which he normally loves to do. Usually he bails on me and my husband in favor of skating around with other kids. Younger or older, he doesn’t care. He is a very social boy. He has no issue going up to kids and asking them to play. This is something we encourage.
What I noticed this weekend, though, was that other kids are NOT social. While ice skating, there were tons of other kids. They were only skating with their siblings or friends that came with them. My son approached other groups a couple of times and was ignored. It really bummed him out, and in turn, it bummed me and my husband out.
Afterward, as a kind of consolation, we took him to a local playground. We figured since it was a nice day (rare in Michigan at this time of year) it would be packed with kids for him to play with. And it was! There were maybe 30 other kids at this playground. However, once again, they were all paired off with siblings or they were only playing with their parents. I watched my outgoing, social, sweet little boy approach other children and try to play with them, only to be blown off and ignored.
Mom Guilt and Asking Why
Cue the mom guilt, since my son is an only child and may remain that way. Now as I am watching my sad little boy play by himself on the outer edges of groups of kids, I am kicking myself that he doesn’t have a sibling and built-in playmate like the rest of them. But then reality sets in.
Why are these kids not socializing? I don’t understand why kids aren’t encouraged to play with other kids anymore by their parents? Both my husband and I grew up with our parents pushing us out the door to “go play.” When did that change? Is this a product of the death of “free play” and over-scheduled families? Does this behavior shift stem from the age of playdates and prearranged meet-ups?
I am really looking for answers here, because I truly don’t know.
The State of the World
This lead me to think about how the world is these days for kids. The bullying, the drugs, the violence in schools… and I will say that I am honestly concerned. I wonder if I am observing the start of what ends as the horrible cycle of how things seem to be now.
Kids aren’t encouraged to play with other kids anymore. Will this lead to kids being left out? To kids being bullied? To the slew of bad things that can spiral from that? I’m concerned. I want all this craziness to stop. I want schools and public events to be safe for kids. Kids need to grow up supporting and loving each other. Here is what I am doing to combat these things.
The Change I Can Make
Kids aren’t encouraged to play with other kids anymore. Fine, but mine will be. My child’s encouraged to try and reach out to other kids. I encourage him to make a new friend. I am teaching him to include everyone and treat them with kindness.
I’m raising my child to respect his peers, to reach out, to help out, and to be a friend. I will teach him that you don’t have to be best friends with every person you meet, but you don’t have to be nasty, or rude, or even down right mean.
In the End
I don’t know that any of this will actually change the world or how things are in it, but they will change one thing: my child. As a parent, that’s the only thing I can do. I can teach him to live in a positive way, and hope that maybe this trend will catch on.
Kids aren’t encouraged to play with other kids anymore…but maybe they should be.
These are just my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours in the comments.
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