Our kindergarten daughter is having trouble with friends at school. How can we help?
Our daughter started kindergarten last Monday. Today when my husband picked her up from school, she cried and said her friend didn't play with her during recess. Earlier tonight we went to the back-to-school night and talked to the teacher, who told us she cried during recess last week because she didn't have anybody to play with. The teacher assigned a buddy for her but the buddy "her friend" decided to play with somebody else today. We feel so bad for her. We know the teacher will do all she can to help her make friends. But is there anything we could do other than making her happy at home? Please advise!
Hi ssliu110. I hope your child has adjusted well to the kindergarten class and that she has established consistent and lasting friendships with kids in her class or at the school. I think this is a challenge that many parents face when their kids first attend kindergarten and one that is important enough to share my thoughts on even though we just past the 100th day of school.
My oldest is also a kindergartner and I've experienced first hand how tough it can be to adapt to different social situations, even in preschool. I was surprised by how early social cliques can form and behaviors such as bullying can take hold. Our approach with our daughter was to make sure we listened very carefully to her every night and that we acknowledged any frustration she may have had during the day. When it came to stress or frustration caused by social situations, we tried to impress upon her that friendships take time to form and if someone wasn't interested in playing with her a specific point in time that it was best to find someone else, or something else to do, rather than to get upset or focus in trying to force interaction. Certainly not an easy concept for a kindergartner to come to terms with, so it helps to have buy-in and help from the teacher. If the teacher can help find a new activity for your child to focus on or a different group of student to play with, this will probably go a long way to helping your child settle in. Even having the teacher spend time directly with your child directly during recess can help.
Some kids are far more outgoing than others and seem to find it easier to adapt to new social situations, but based on what I've seen, even the shier ones tend to find their groove in time. It's really tough to see your child feeling stressed at that age and there may be more structured ways to help, but I think we found that just being extra supportive, acknowledging the challenges of adapting, and defining a few coping strategies can go a long way to getting your child through a tough transition. Good luck!
Kindergarten social life can often be pretty harsh - but there are definitely things you can do to make your daughter's life easier. Have you tried to set up any playdates with your child's classmates outside of school? This may help her make more friends away from the playground politics.
Also, here are a couple of articles about helping kindergarteners make friends:
I know that it seems frustrating and it may be disappointing to watch your daughter's feelings get hurt, BUT it's not as bad as it seems right now.
Friendships made in Kindergarten are not the "lasting" ones. What I mean by this is, my daughter made several friends in Kindergarten, but as soon as they went to 1st grade each of them were separated and placed in different classes. It seemed that all the kids had to start over, meeting new kids and making new friendships. It's a large class and they keep switching the kids around so they are with a different group each time, they may be able to be with 1 or 2 that they have been with before, but my daughter is now in 3rd grade and this is the first year that she has been placed with her Kindergarten friend since Kindergarten and although the two girls still like each other, they have "moved on" and have a new "best friend" that they made in 1st & 2nd grade.
I think the best thing that we can do for our children is teach them to have a high self esteem and not be dependent on other people to find acceptance. My daughter can play by herself and not even think twice about it, in fact several days she does. There has been lots of days that when I ask what she did at recess, she will tell me that while the others (her friends) played tag (or whatever) she looked for flowers, or rocks, exercised or played on the swing, etc.
Teach your daughter than she does not always need someone else, to have fun and there are other things she can do alone and enjoy herself. "March to the beat of your own drum".
As these kids get older and move on into middle school and then high school they are going to be meeting more people and making and changing friends again, so it's best that they not be so dependent on someone else to feel comfortable in the environment that they are in.
If a child is too dependent on others, how will they move on later into college or work or just life in general. They will always be seeking someone to "hang on to" and that's not healthy in my opinion. Self confidence is the best tool we can give our kids as far as social development and friends will come when they are not coming across so needy.
Final thought: If our children become so dependent on others, what happens later, when their "friends" make poor decisions such as drugs, boyfriends, skipping school, etc. If our child is so reliant on these kids, they will "go along" just to fit in. I'd prefer my daughter to be independent enough to tell them to go on without her not needing their acceptance. Think about it---