Friendship is one part of our ever-evolving lives. Preschool-aged children will choose to have fun and not be selective about the friends they make. As they begin primary school, they will make friends and change friends.
Children tend to form friendship groups when they are seven to nine years old. These friends will stay with them through primary school, although there is some variation. I recommend that parents stay away from their children’s friendships. As they learn about themselves, other people and how to set boundaries and repair relationships with friends, children must navigate these relationships. These learning experiences are essential.
It can be difficult to see our children struggling, especially with their friends. They rely on each other when we are not there.
Your daughter is now in middle childhood (8-12 years). This is a time when many changes take place. This stage is when children shift their focus away from their parents to be more focused on their friends and the outside world. As our children transition from middle childhood to the pre-teen years we see changes in their friendships. Some children seem to mature instantly while others take longer. Because of their changing interests and focus, it is possible for relationships to become strained.
Your daughter says she is having trouble making friends. I wonder if that has been her experience. Not all children need a group of friends — some do best with two close friends and do not enjoy larger group interactions. As long as there are social connections between peers, this is okay. She also mentions that she enjoys playing rough and tumble with her brothers. I assume she attends a single-sex school. I wonder if she’s met anyone who enjoys playing the way she does. Find out what she enjoys about playing and talk to others who are interested in the same.
Talking to your daughter’s teacher is a good idea. Ask about her behavior in class and how she interacts with other students. Ask your daughter to choose a friend she would like to have over for a playdate one afternoon. Maybe she is involved in extra-curricular activities that bring her together with children who share similar interests. You could help foster those connections.
You can play with different social scenarios and help her to better understand the world. You can play the role of a child with other children while she plays your part. Ask other children to join you in the role-play. Play with your child in a different role and ask her to play the same scenario. This simple exchange will show her how to make new connections.
- If you have a question for Joanna, please send it to [email protected]