“He won’t let me be [do] what I want!”

This is a common complaint in the Pre-K classroom. Sometimes it’s “he”, sometimes “she” and most often “they.”  No matter which pronoun precedes the declaration, it is certainly “not my fault!”.  The Pre-K child’s development of fairness, self and place in the social world drives the logic behind feelings of inequity.

Here is an example of a conversation I overheard recently.  Two children were already engaged in a game of “family” under the loft.  Two other children wanted to join in on the game:
(all names are ridiculously fictitious)

Ivan: Mrs. Forst! Mrs. Forst! She won’t let us play! 

Blessing: But, Mrs. Forst, They aren’t playing right!

Harold: Yeah! She won’t let us play her game!

Mrs. Forst:  Blessing, tell me what happened?

Blessing: Ivan “grrrrrred” at me and he breathed in my face.

Ivan: I was a bear! I was a BAD bear and I was going to eat her.

Blessing: And Harold just yanked all of our food away. He didn’t even ask!

Harold: But I didn’t have any food.

(at this time the words were flying like bats out of a cave, I had to do something to make the discussion more focused…)

Mrs. Forst: Ivan, what do you want?

Ivan: I want to play with them.

Mrs. Forst: Blessing, what do you want?

Blessing: I don’t want them to be bad bears and steal our food.

Mrs. Forst: Ivan, ask her how you can play in their game.

Ivan: What can we do in your game?

Blessing: You can be good family or pets.

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