So today I snapped. Driving home, I caught myself saying something to Eli that went against my values as a parent and as a psychologist. But I'm stuck here and I'm not sure what to do. So like any good modern mom I'm turning to you all and hoping someone else has a better answer than I do.
For months Eli has come home from school talking about how no one played with him, "So and so isn't my friend," "He wants to take all my toys" and any number of other preschooler slights and injustices. This isn't part of the overall telling of his day, it's the ONLY thing he talks about. At first I thought it was the other school, since I'd seen kids mistreating each other with little or no teacher intervention. But now he's doing it at the new school, even though I'll have seen him playing well with other kids literally minutes earlier. Yesterday one of his teachers heard him talking about a boy who hurt his feelings and was quick to reiterate, to Eli, that sometimes kids have a hard time remembering to use "nice words" but that they can still be our friends and then pointed out all the fun things they'd done that day.
I know that Eli got a lot of comfort and validation from me when he talked about how mean the other kids were, and that's not something that I want to withold, if it's actually happening. But now I think that maybe it's not, or it's being exaggerated. So today I told Eli I only wanted to hear about the fun things that happened at school. Totally invalidating and one step closer to Stepfordness. But he couldn't do it and that scared me. I don't want him to focus only on the negatives. I want him to see the big picture and to celebrate the good parts at least as much as he focuses on the bad parts.
I'm stuck. I don't know how to encourage more of the positive focus without completely shutting him down if he has a hard day. The other weird part is that he never does this about the older kids that play in front of our house, and they do ignore him sometimes. Again, this makes me think that it has something to do with my reaction rather than what's really going on.
Thoughts? Anyone with kids in daycare have a similar experience?
Harry has a couple of preschool friends who are actually mean to him (2 little girls-- they used to play together as a 3-some, but now the little girls only want to play with each other-- he is quite broken up about it and spent spring break coloring pictures for them because he is, in his words, "concerned they're not my friends.")
We talk about how they made him feel bad and then I try to redirect the conversation toward good things that happened at school, and sometimes he says he "can't remember." I have made a point of asking his teachers what he liked best everyday. Then I have a specific detail to use to jog his memory.
How about . . . as soon as you get in the car, you tell him something good or funny that happened to you that day. Set the mood for good news. Or just start a conversation about what you're going to do when you get home, or what's for dinner. Don't quiz him about his day - let him bring it up. Just sayin' he must like the response he gets from the negative. Good idea to ask the teacher (in front of him) what he liked that day and talk about that on the way home. When you tuck him in, ask if he had a good day and remind him of something he can look forward to at school tomorrow.
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