Help! My Son Doesn’t Like Playing Boyish Games

This week our agony aunt Lulu advises on the subject of playdates... and a little boy who doesn't like to negotiate with his friends.

My son, who is 7, doesn’t like the usual boy playing (football, boisterous play, computer games, cricket, etc.).

He is obsessed with animals and all he wants to do is play with toy animals or impersonating animals with his sister and friends (few friends and mostly girls).

The problem is he refuses to play anything else with those friends and does not negotiate at all; when they say they want to play with someone else, he gets very cross and frustrated (crying his eyes out).

He is a normal, clever boy and we are very surprised that he hasn’t learned his lesson on this issue, despite the fact he complains that no one wants to play with him at school (for obvious reasons).

​Every week we calmly talk about this. Sometimes playdates are totally frustrating…. What can we do? I’d be very thankful for any useful tips.​


Dear R,

It doesn’t sound like those play dates are any fun at all, sounds harsh but I think I would cancel them for the time being if I was you. 

Nobody wants to ‘play’ with some one who wants to control his or her every move. If your son wants to have friends to play with he needs to learn to negotiate and join in with others.

Explain to him that play dates are cancelled until such a time that he can have fun and play with other children without losing it when things don’t go his way, as that’s not much fun for anyone.

Once you’ve done that ask your son to tell you how he thinks he can play with his fellow classmates at school and have friends over to play without losing his cool.

This will require real open and active listening on your part to help him to find out where the root of the ‘problem’ lies in order to help him find a solution. 

As parents we tend to want to fix the problem and often don’t leave the space and time to allow our children to find the answers themselves. 

Give your lovely boy the control over finding solutions by getting him to write down three-bullet point ‘rules’ to help him to help himself.

Then suggest he uses his own ‘rules’ to find successful ways to play at school. At the end of the day ask him how he’s got on using his rules and reward him when he’s done well with specific uplifting words of praise. 

When your son feels he’s achieved success at school and if you agree reinstate the play dates at home, this could take a while, no need to rush. 

Try hard not to take it all too seriously as the more we fuel a fire with our own fears and worries the bigger it grows! Treat it as lightly as possible, it’s a passing phase and one that you will soon be out the other side of with or without the zoo of toy animals!

Good luck!

Lulu x

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