I watched a less popular girl, Allison, walk up to a group of four girls who were playing a game of four-square. As she approached and asked, “Can I play?” she was quickly rebuffed. “The game is closed,” Janey, the ring leader, announced.
Given the school is a Peaceful Playgrounds’ school, I was surprised at the response because of the “You can’t say, ‘You can’t play’” mantra. Allison, whose disappointment was obvious, turned to play another game. Fortunately, the playground was filled with alternate game choices and two other four-square courts. Allison selected one of those courts and soon was happily involved in another four-square game. This time she didn’t ask, but rather waited in line by the letter D.
Permission: is it a good idea?
It was an interesting observation for a number of reasons. I began to dissect what happened and why. In the first situation, Allison asked for permission to play. The question, “Can I play?”, allowed Janey the opportunity to respond and in fact, reject the request.
In the second situation, Allison simply stood in line and waited her turn. No one challenged her right to play. She didn’t ask permission but rather followed the rules of the playground and when her turn came she merely stepped onto the court. No one challenged her right to do so.
Entwined within the actions of young children was a lesson. When you act in accordance with the school rules (wait in line and go in when appropriate), that behavior makes rejection less likely.