Q: My 4 year old daughter has just attended full time school. She has been getting upset due to the other children not wanting to play with her. I have talked to her teacher about this, but my daughter is still getting upset.
What can I do or say that will reassure her that she will make friends?
A: It is inevitable that you are feeling concern for your daughter and quite rightly you want to offer her reassurance. Your daughter has only just started attending school, which is a major transition in her life and she will have had to make lots of adjustments in the past few weeks.
It maybe that she is simply trying to cope with lots of new experiences at once and finding it all a little over whelming. Making friends is easier for some children than for others.
As a parent you are your daughter’s greatest role model, so start off by making an effort to talk to other parents in the playground. This encourages children to get to know each other whilst still in a safe and protective environment. Remember to praise your daughter when she is friendly or helpful to another child.
Find time to talk to your daughter about friendships, share some stories of your childhood friends and ask her what she thinks. Maybe you could even go to the library together and choose a book about friends. This is a good way of finding out what she is feeling and thinking and will help to release her emotions. At the same time you are displaying your love which will boost your daughter’s confidence.
Encourage social activities, which create opportunities for developing friendships. Clubs, groups or swimming lessons are often a good starting point. Invite another child from your daughters class home for tea and set up some simply activities for them to do together.
Identify some ways in which you can build on her social skills. Use some role play using a favourite cuddly toy or puppet to act out simple social situations by showing your daughter how she could respond to a given situation. E.g. by encouraging her to smile and to practice breaking the ice by inviting some interaction. “ Hello, I am Sophie, what’s your name”? Role play like this is a great way to rehearse a potentially anxious situation or to demonstrate basic social rules like sharing, being kind and co-operating.
If you are still concerned speak to your daughter’s teacher once again and ask her if she could talk to the class as a whole about being friends. Good luck.
About The Author: Allison Marlowe, founder of Allison Marlowe Ltd coaches, inspires and challenges women in business to achieve new levels of success. She can be contacted at www.allisonmarlowe.com.