My daughter just started first grade and I'm growing worried about her making friends. She's an only child, very social and very drawn to other kids, always wants to join others, but she hasn't really made any friends over the last year of kinder and all summer at camp. She had a few kids in kindergarten that she would socialize with and we tried to foster those connections by getting to know the parents but nothing ever took root long term and then we moved to a new school/area and are starting all over again. We would ask her about who she played with at camp and she couldn't give us a single name of a kid (though all the counselors loved her). Yesterday kiddo told me that she's been playing with her school desk-mate but then the girl told her that she wanted to play with someone else. The way kiddo put it was "I think she was tired of me" though she wasn't particularly sad about it, as far as I can tell. I worry sometimes that she might be a little too much for other kids because she's very excitable and chatty and wants to do all the things and doesn't have the best understanding of social cues, and she has no trouble going off on her own and doing her own thing but she's definitely someone who needs her social bucket filled.
I'm guessing I'm probably overthinking as usual and in full transparency, I suck at making friends and I'm probably projecting that here, but especially given that she's an only child, I really want her to build a group and I'm not sure whether to do anything beyond what we're already doing (asking questions, trying to foster connections anywhere we can, etc.)
pear / 1565 posts
So I can be way off base here, as my first is only going into kindergarten so we def have this whole new social culture to explore.
My kid is more of a loner and not super social and def likes to do her own thing half the time. And I know for sure she is also more likely to be a victim than an offender. So I def worry too! I was also more shy/unsure of myself when I was young and honestly took till adulthood to truly come to really know and love myself!
BUT, all that is to say, I feel like if she isn't voicing any concerns, distress or sadness, then maybe it's just a journey she has to go through. I wouldn't necessarily intervene unless she is actively asking for you to help.
cherry / 182 posts
I wouldn't worry. I was that kind of kid growing up. I would have been mortified if my mom intervene. You can't force friendships.. I didn't have a lot of friends growing up. It came later in life. If she likes sports, you should sign her up for activities (then you get to talk to the other parents while waiting for her. That's how I know what's going on in town and what activities are coming up) and maybe do some scout/4H things? Some parents are really busy. Some parents don't want to do the work. they don't mind being contacted but won't organize anything and you don't want to alienate them.
persimmon / 1483 posts
I think at that age, playdates can make a big difference. Unfortunately, that involves either you connecting with the other parents, or sitters, or whatever the culture is where you are. Do kids/parents/sitters congregate at the school playground after dismissal? That would be an easy way to connect and foster those relationships without the effort of trying to schedule something.
pomelo / 5563 posts
I don’t have a lot of advice, but I have the same fears and the same personality and it’s hard. I don’t want him to grow up feeling shy and excluded, but I also can’t figure out how much of these worries are me projecting my personality onto him. It’s so hard!
blogger / nectarine / 2043 posts
@Madison43: Agree! And I'm not sure how to make those connections. We both work full time so kiddo is in aftercare and we don't see a lot of parents as a result. I'm hoping the teacher might do a contact list or something and I'm constantly listening for any kid names kiddo brings up so I can figure out a way to reach out.
blogger / nectarine / 2043 posts
@bakingdoodle: I definitely don't want to force anything, I guess I just keep thinking my "coaching" might be inadequate but also not wanting to helicopter. Kiddo is a big experience seeker so she's doing taekwondo and ballet so I've been trying to talk to parents there too (super hard as a major introvert but I'm trying!) but no luck so far.
pomelo / 5257 posts
I worry from time to time because my 1st grade daughter often tells me she had no friends and nobody will play with her. I've found comfort in talking to the teacher, after school care staff, and other parents that I've met at back to school night and the PTA because we also have DD in extended Care and don't get to meet a lot of people. While I don't think she has a best friend they all report that she's in the mix with the other kids and has no trouble with friends. Everytime I meet a parent from her class they have stories about their conversations with her (and I don't even know these people and have never heard of their kid) so I think she gravitates to grownups.
blogger / nectarine / 2043 posts
@Corduroy: that sounds like my kid 100%. She definitely gravitates toward grownups and all the counselors we met at camp called her their favorite this summer. And while I love that she can hold her own with grownups, I sometimes wonder if that's why she's not really socializing with kids as much and whether that's even something one can do something about.
pomegranate / 3355 posts
DD is starting K next week and I do have some worries. however, I know I shouldn't bc DD is sooo good at making friends. I was and am the girl that always gets left out and I fear DD will be the same simply bc I dont' know how to teach her not to be... I am trying not to push my insecurities onto her and I am trying to teach her to reach out to kids who are shy, scared or sad.... I guess only time will tell. But I think it's probably best to let things happen naturally.... if your kid asks for a play date then I'd try to set one up, if not then I'd just go with the flow. There's nothing wrong with being an introvert... even if we as the parent picture them playing with tons of kids and laughing and running maybe that's just not in the cards.... and unless your daughter seems upset by it or like she being bullied I'd probably just go with the flow.
pomelo / 5257 posts
@Mrs. Carrot: I understand the concern. I struggled with anxiety around dealing with adults so I when I hear she's getting along with adults I'm relieved. Outside of school I've had the chance to see how she plays with kids in the neighborhood (seems great) and navigate things with the girls in her Girl Scout troop (where she hasn't quite meshed yet 1 year in).
clementine / 828 posts
@Mrs. Carrot: It is much easier to meet other parents at soccer or other team sports, because there is a lot of parent involvement. At least half of the guests at my son's birthday party came from his soccer team. FWIW my son is also a first grader and his accounts of who he played with at school have not always been accurate. He plays with a lot of classmates who he does not ever mention.
cherry / 126 posts
This sounds just like my kiddo, except she's in kindergarten. Same thing, 9 weeks of summer camp, not a single friend (but she became the favorite of all the camp counselors). I worried about friends last year as well because we had to unexpectedly switch preschools mid-year (not that she had made any friends at her old preschool). She had a great teacher at that new preschool who helped us with this issue unprompted, and while I know it'll be a little more difficult in your case since kids don't get as much personalized attention in elementary school, I'm wondering if you could implement something similar. Her preschool teacher said that my daughter was fine mixing with and getting along with the kids in general, but that she would like her to make a friend. She asked my daughter if there are any kids, girls or boys, that she's interested in becoming friends with. My daughter named two girls. Over the subsequent weeks, the teacher would encourage them to play together (this is the part that might not be so feasible in first grade with just one teacher). Also, since I never saw either of the girls' moms at pickup/dropoff, I cold-emailed them to see if they'd be interested in getting together. They were both receptive and we arranged playdates, and were able to keep up the friendships through the summer, etc. They're all going to different schools for K, but now we're all close enough that we can keep up those friendships regardless.
Maybe in a month or so if it's still an issue, you can reach out to the teacher and ask her if she could help facilitate your daughter making a friend? Perhaps she can help identify some specific kids your daughter would like to form friendships with?
persimmon / 1023 posts
This stressed me out with my oldest too who is going into SK. He’s shy and likes being on the sidelines as well as gravitating towards adults, plus me and DW are introverted homebodies who have had the same friends since high school basically ha. Somehow he found another boy like him in the first couple weeks of school and they became friends and another boy joined them so I know he has those two.
What really helped was at the end of last year his teachers put out a message saying one of the parents requested a class email list so you could send your email and then have access to the whole list for play dates or whatever. One parent sent an email to everyone about a farm play date and we just did one for a park/splash pad which worked out nicely. No pressure to do one on one or awkward interactions. We also signed him up for a dance class with a good friend of ours daughter in the fall so hoping that will flourish.
I do think it gets easier when they get older and can make their own choices. I feel so responsible for his social life and it stresses me out because I don’t have a crazy social life! I would definitely ask the teacher or class parent if you could get an email list together and just keep on top of your kids interests to sign her up. Visit the parks around you and you’ll start running into the same neighbourhood kids soon too hopefully.
apricot / 398 posts
I haven’t read all the comments, but I will say it wasn’t until 1st grade that my daughter started really connecting and building good friendships. So maybe it’s an age thing and this year is the year for your daughter! Also, if you’re concerned, I’d talk to her teacher to see how she’s doing. The teacher might also know some kids your daughter seems to connect with and then you could schedule a play date.
pea / 20 posts
This sounds very much like one of my son's friends. His family moved to our town the last year of pre-k, his parents work FT, he is an only child that wants to hang out with adults more than kids.
I think his parents really handled it well. They signed him up and coached a sports team the spring before Kindergarten and that is where we met them. Our kids really got along well from the first time they met and his mom was eager to set up play dates. She is really good about arranging play dates and other activities and coordinating times to make sure he is in sports with kids he knows.
I think it takes work but you can put in some effort to foster opportunities to get to know a few kids that she seems to connect with the most.
apricot / 399 posts
@Azaela: agree with all of this.
I think you should feel really comfortable asking for contact info and then cold emailing some potential friends' parents and setting up a playdate. My husband is an extreme extrovert and I have learned a lot from watching him operate. He always says that you have to be prepared for rejection, but that most people are craving more interaction and are happy to participate in something that you plan. We have made a lot of friends for both ourselves and our kids this way. I have really had to coach myself to be ok with rejection, but it is definitely worth it.
blogger / nectarine / 2043 posts
@hitchhiker: Hah, my husband is the same and I'm trying to take cues from him but it's so hard. I'm so used to not being the initiator that changing those habits is really tough but I'm definitely trying.
grapefruit / 4278 posts
For us, extracurriculars have been really important for fostering friendships. E is in scouts and plays soccer and through that we've been able to connect with a lot of other parents and he gets extra time with kids that he shares interests with.
We are also lucky to have several kids who are +/- one grade on our block. So we allow him free play with these kids after school and on weekends. We've had conversations with and are developing relationships with all their parents and the kids are allowed to roam back and forth between yards/houses. This unstructured gathering has been HUGE in his social development and is really fun to watch.