My 5 year old is learning a lesson right now that I think we could all use a refresher course on.
5yo at pickup time “No one wanted to play with me today.”
Me “Did you ask anyone to play with you?”
5yo “Yeah, I wanted to play pirates, but they all wanted to play racers.”
Me “Did you ask if you could play racers with them?”
5yo “No, I don’t like racers. All they do is run around. There’s no point to it.”
Me “Well it sounds like you can either decide to play racers with them, play by yourself, or suggest another game to play.”
5yo “Yeah, I guess.”
Next day at pickup
Me “What did you play today?”
5yo “We played tag. It was so fun!”
When you don’t want to play by the rules of the game, or don’t like the game altogether, you are left with a few options.
- Suggest a new game
- Suggest changing the rules
- Play something else by yourself
Is my 5 year old ‘kissing up’ to the other kids if he plays their game by their rules? Or, is he making a choice based on his needs and desires? It seems to me he is saying, “I want to be a part of this group. I have to do things this way to be a part of this group. So today, I choose to do those things.”
Deciding you want to play in the game usually means playing by a set of rules that you did not create. You can suggest a change of rules, but in the end it comes down a choice: Do you want to play?