When my daughter was in kindergarten, I would ask her who she played with at recess but she would often reply that no one wanted to play with her. It would break my heart to see her standing there alongside the play yard while the rest of the kids were running nearby or swinging on the swings, their faces all full of smiles and laughter as my daughter stood there with a broken heart. Making friends is sometimes tough on kids.
I realized from bringing up my other kids that kids need friends just as much as exercise. My daughter and I sat down and read the book “Will I Have a Friend?” By Miriam Cohen. This really helped her understand the situation a little better.
As I did some research on this I found out that kids who find it challenging to make friends are more likely to drop out of school as well as have problems with depression and aggression as teenagers. I did not want this to happen to my daughter. Friendships can have their ups and downs in the best of circumstances.
Here are some ideas that I came up with.
One of the first problems I had to deal with was the complaint that she did not have anyone to play with. Toddlers are easier to console about this, but preschoolers need the company of other kids. They may feel awkward about asking others if they can play and help build the block town that the rest of the kids are building, or they hate to ask if they can join a game of jump rope. They are afraid of being rejected. Help to reassure them that feeling nervous is normal and that even adults feel like this at times.
Provide them with the following steps to make it easier for them. After you have told her the steps give her a chance to practice them by role playing with her. Then go to the park and let her practice while you are around.
- While you stand close to the group of kids, watch them play for a few minutes. Tell her to figure out what they are playing and if there are teams try and figure out which team needs the help.
- Tell your child that it is helpful to smile and make eye contact with the other kids while she is asking; tell her that the other kids will be more receptive if she does this.
The funny thing was, that once she started making friends, she had trouble with one kid telling her what to do all the time and she did not know how to handle it. We sat down and read “A Weekend with Wendell,” by Kevin Henkes. In this book, Sophie resents her pushy pal Wendell. She eventually learns how to assert herself with him. Then they have nothing but fun. This is great book to read with your child because it will help them deal with this issue of friendship.