When my daughter was around 4 or 5, she had a friend over for a playdate. The girls were playing very well for a while until they pulled out the dress-up clothes.
“I’m the most beautiful-est!” I heard one say. “No, I’m the most beautiful-est!” the other replied. “No, I’m the most beautiful-est!” the first one said again. They went back and forth a few times.
They weren’t escalating, so I just said lightly, “I think you’re BOTH the most beautiful!”
They didn’t really respond to this, but continued playing and arguing about who was the “most beautiful-est”.
What To Do When Kids Get Stuck in Play
After 10 minutes, I realized they were stuck in it and didn’t know how to get out of the back and forth. I knew laughter was great at dissolving these lighter tensions, so I walked over to them and said in a funny/whiney way, “But, I want to be the most beautiful!”
The friend looked at me with a big smile and said, “No! You can’t be the most beautiful-est!” I pouted and said, “But I wanna be! I wanna be the most beautiful!”
Both girls laughed now and told me I couldn’t be.
Laughter is the Great Connector
I begged a little as they laughed and said, “No!” to me. I continued playing the “odd one out” for a bit, and when it looked like the girls were connected to each other again, I gave them a faux defeated look and said, “Okay, guess I’ll go back to my work,” and I playfully slumped back to my desk.
The girls went back to playing and, as they walked to my daughter’s room, they took each others hand and said, “We can both be beautiful.”
More Tools and Resources for Helping Kids Get Along
Listen to this Why Can’t My Kids Get Along podcast for more great ideas on helping kids play well.
Prepare for a playdate: Playdates 101: Helping Children Get Along