My 3 year old has a good friend the same age. They play together happily and frequently during playdates and at other gatherings. My daughter though will sometimes say to us that Jane Doe is mean, doesn’t like her, doesn’t share, etc. I know this is not the case because they never play unsupervised. The last time she said this, I told her that if she really felt that way, we would stop having playdates for awhile. She burst into tears and became upset. I believe she say these things to get attention, but I’m frustrated because they aren’t true and mean. What’s going on?


Dear Confused,

I think you hit the nail on the head and it is your daughter’s bid for attention. I suspect it works too and she achieves her goal. Children are remarkably skilled at using techniques that push our buttons. Her type of responce though, is something we usually see in an older child, say 4 1/2 to 5 years, so I wonder where she saw it modeled. Fortunately it doesn’t matter. What matters is how you respond and you are off to a great start by telling her that if she feels that way you’ll stop having playdates. I definately recommend letting her have that experience if she continues to press her approach. In the meantime make sure that you or other adults are not putting on a show for her in your resonces to her words. Try some humor, “Oh! You are telling me another funny story!” Have a good laugh and then add, “Of course we all know that you and Jane care about each other and have a wonderful time together!” Let it go and back off and observe what she does next. If she goes for more drama, then follow through with leaving immediately and taking a break for awhile. Be sure to follow up with heart to heart talks during neutral times about the situation and ask could it be questions, “Could it be that you say those things about Jane to get my attention?” You can also lay your cards on the table and name it a drama act if that feels true, and let her know what you’ve decided to do when she does it.