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When older kids don’t want to play with the littles

“Go away!” Shouted a little boy, about four years old, to my son. “We don’t want to pway wif you!”

My son is two and a half. He is friendly, happy, and LOVES playing with other kids.

This is the second time in a week that a group of older boys has excluded him from their play. Two different groups, at two different public parks.

I cannot determine if this is a thing amongst four-year-olds, or if those kids are just assholes. After speaking with some friends, and looking back at other playground interactions; I think it’s the latter. 

My kids are being raised to play with and share with everyone. This is how my husband and I were raised, and while it didn’t make us the most popular kids in school, it definitely made us the most kind. That is what I want for and expect of my kids.

When I teach my kids to share and to include, they do not understand when someone does not share with or include them. And, frankly, I don’t either. I think it’s rude. I think the moms of those boys should have intervened and instructed their kids to be polite.

I believe in self-directed play and I do not often interject, however, social courtesy is not an engrained skill. Particularly amongst kids of varying ages. It is learned and kids are not learning to be kind if they are allowed to call toddlers names, if they are encouraged to go somewhere else so the toddler cannot participate, or if they take toys from little kids without reprimand. 

My hands are full when I go to a park. Two toddlers is enough to keep most people at home, but I brave the park knowing that I’ll be running in two different directions the whole time. But, to worry about my two year old getting bullied? It makes me angry. And really, really sad. 

I have not handled this well in the past. I have tried to distract my kids into playing with someone/something else, but they don’t want to. They keep trying to play with the kids who don’t want to play with them, until they start crying and I then put my kids in the car and go to another park. In the future, I would like to ask the other mother what her thoughts are. Maybe this will help me understand and give her child more grace. 

Instead, I am overly anxious about the well-being of my kids. Is there something wrong with them? Why don’t those kids want to play with them? I think my boys are sweet and cute and very social. Maybe I’m wrong? Or maybe society is just super messed up. I don’t know, but, obviously the park was a little stressful today.

Hoping I’m not alone, but also hoping this doesn’t happen to others… Ugh. 


Just so you know, I am not a complete cynic. A lot of older kids are really kind to my boys and I love them for it!

3 Responses to “When older kids don’t want to play with the littles”

  1. Paula Kinch

    Making an introduction to the older kids at the start could help. “This is [name], he wants to play for a few minutes.” Give a quick wave to the other parent if they are watching.
    Then, getting any of the kids to say, “Bye! See you!” can help them all to move apart on good terms.

  2. Lindsay

    This has happened a few times to my daughter (2.5) at our local parks. It’s usually kids around 4-5 who are mean (I see rejection of play as mean) like that. They’ve shouted “go away” and “we don’t want to play with you!” and “this is our toy!”. One child even went so far as to push my daughter down with both of his hands. I was FLOORED! Of course, his mother didn’t see him and was at the other end of the park yakking with a friend.

    I don’t know what the best thing to do is to do in situations like this.

  3. oliviascribe

    Ugh! I can’t believe this happened again. I am sorry. I think this is the older boys’ parents problem. Those kids are not alone in the playground and even if the parents are into independent play, which I am all for, they MUST intervene when they are being so rude, especially to a younger child. However, the sad thing is that they are probably modeling what they see either at home or elsewhere. If my children said “go away” to anyone who wasn’t hurting them I would be mortified. Hope your next park visit is more positive. Can’t wait to see you and play with your awesome boys. XO


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