Be curious about what others think or want
Episode 3 – Noelle, age 10: Kid tries to wreck game
Think About It Questions
- Why is it usually important to try to get along with people, even if you don’t like them?
- Some kids think it’s funny if other kids get mad and yell at them. What do you think is the best way to deal with these kids?
- Trying to annoy kids is not a good way to join a game. What’s a friendlier way to join in?
- How do you decide when to go to a teacher or other adult about a problem with another kid and when to try to handle it yourself?
Hello! I’m Dr. Eileen Kennedy-Moore, also known as Dr. Friendtastic. I’m an author and clinical psychologist based in Princeton, NJ.
Here’s today’s question:
Hi my name is Noelle, and I'm 10 years old, and today, this guy… Me and my friends went outside to play family, and I was making a plunger for the toilet, and he walked up to me and said, “Hey? what are you doing?” And he grabbed the plunger out of my hand and threw it in the woods, even though I had worked on it, and then I tried to start again, and he came back and said, “What are you doing?” again and threw it into the woods. What should I do in that situation?
Hi, Noelle. It’s annoying to have someone try to wreck your game, especially more than once! I think that’s something a lot of kids have faced.
In your situation, I’m sure you told him to stop. But that didn’t work.
You could go to a teacher or other grown-up in charge and explain what’s happening. Maybe they’d tell the other kid to stop, and maybe he’d listen. But before going to an adult, you may want to be curious about why he’s wrecking your game by throwing the plunger.
Maybe he doesn’t like you, and he’s trying to be mean.
Maybe he’s bored, and he thinks it’s funny if you and your friends all yell at him.
Maybe he actually wants to join your game, and he thinks throwing the plunger is a good way to do it.
Maybe he’s trying to show off and impress you with how far he can throw the plunger.
I don’t know what he’s thinking. You might have some idea about which of these possibilities is most likely, based on other things that have happened between you and this kid.
If you think he’s looking for a reaction, you could try ignoring him. Don’t say anything. Just do something else until he loses interest.
If you think he wants to play, you could try giving him a job. Ask him to do something that helps your game.
But I wonder what would have happened if you’d looked at him and calmly asked, “How are you hoping I’ll respond to you throwing the plunger?”
I bet he’d be surprised by that question. Maybe he’d just leave. Which is fine. Or maybe he’d explain why he was throwing it. And you could explain, why you need the plunger, and move on from there.
It sounds like this boy isn’t a friend of yours, but we often have to get along with people we don’t particularly like. Being curious about what they’re thinking or what they want can be useful in figuring out how to deal with them.
This has been Kids Ask Dr. Friendtastic. If YOU have question about making and keeping friends that you’d like me to answer, go to DrFriendtastic.com, and select the podcast tab to see how to submit your question.