At what age do children start forming solid friendships? My five year old child doens't seem to make friends at school easy and tells me she often plays by herself. How should I react when my child says nobody plays with her when she's at school? Is this a natural part of a five year old's life or should I speak to her teacher? 

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Child Playing by himself

Having friends is an important part of childhood.  When do they begin to make friends?  Well even toddlers play together and have friends, but usally they play by themselves and sit next to each other, this is called parallel play.  By about the age of 3 years, kids play ‘with’ other children and make friends.  Certainly by the age of 5 your child should have friends that she plays with.  It may not be a big group of friends but may be one or two good friends.

It certainly is hard as a parent to know if your child does have friends at school.  One question I ask parents when we talk play and friendship is – Does your child get invited to birthday parties?  Are they whole class parties or small select parties? Do they get invited over for ‘a play’?  If the answer is no then it is likely that they may not have friends.

I would check with your childs teacher and just say that this is what your daughter is saying, and ask if she plays with other children at break time?  Does she sit by herself or with others when eating her lunch?  Is she alone in the classroom?  Does she talk – interact with other children?  Her teacher will be able to answer this, if not they will take special note for a few days and then let you know.

If your child doesn’t have friends then it may simply be that she hasn’t had enough opportunities to make them, or share in similar activities as others in her class. So find out what type of activities other children are involved in, join the activity, go to your local park, a team sport is an excellent way to make friends like soccer, dance, gymnastics,  also invite another child from school to meet you at the park or to come over for a play.

If your child continues to struggle to make friends then watch how they are with other children: are they too bossy?  Are they too clingy?  Too aggressive, too shy?  Then talk about this and teach them about ‘how to do it differently’ next time, role play with toys and dolls.  These are just some of the ways that you as a parent can help.

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