14 answers

My 4 Year Old Is Having Trouble Making Friends.

I have a 4 year old daughter who is very friendly and loves the company of other children big and small. She goes to school during the day, Dance class Monday nights and the Park on Tuesday nights. So she is around children quite a bit now. Yesterday at dance class she was playing with a little girl who she danced with last year and her mom and I take them out to dinner sometimes, they have been friends for a year or more. Well these 2 other little girls walked over and pointed at my daughter and said "we are not your friend, we don't like you" Then started playing with the other little girl. My daughter didn't know what to say or do. She just walked away with tears in her eyes and then asked me "Why don't they like me? Im a fun girl" As a mother it broke my heart. I didn't know what to say to her, luckly dance class was about to start so it took the focus off that and on to dance. She has never been mean or rude to these children, what do I do as a mom? Do I let her fight her own battles or do I step in and tell the other children to play nice? Another situation happened last week at the park, there were 3 little girls running aroung playing freeze tag, my daughter asked if she could play too and they just acted as if they didn't hear her. She kept trying to run and play along but they just ran right past her. These children were a bit older but it doesn't make rejection any easier for my child. I did the only thing I knew to do... I played freeze tag with her, we had our own little game. But she couldn't understand why the kids didn't want to play with her. Kids are so mean. I am not sure how she is doing in school with friends, but I have a meeting with her teacher next week to see how she is doing in there. Any advice??? Thanks

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Hi J. - I think this is very common at this age. I have a son who is 5 - and a similar thing happened w/his friends at the playground (last year) - one of the boys told him he couldn't play so he came crying to me (my heart was broken for him) - so I told him to tell those boys "Too bad, I AM going to play - get over it!" and in fact, I took him over to where his friends were and said (nicely), "ok boys, we are all going to play together - Kristian is playing too." And they were all happy and played just fine together. I think kids are just testing their boundaries - they don't really know what they are saying - or what the consequences will be. One thing that I tell my son is to treat other people like he would like to be treated (especially when he's beating up on his baby brother - lol) I hope that helps.

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really not sure what to tell you . Just stay involved and talk with the girls parents

Unfortunately that is what she is going to have to deal with the rest of her life. Children are mean. My daughter is only 3 yrs old but she constantly tells me everyday that someone is not her friend anymore, she doesn't like them or they were mean to her. Then the next day they are her friend again. She tells her sister she doesn't like her and she is not her friend. Of course I always correct her and tell her that is not a nice thing to say. If I had been in your situation I would have told the girls that that is not nice to say to someone else and I would have asked the other kids if my daughter could play too. It may be that they were so involved with playing that they did not hear her ask. At 4 yrs old you want to stay involved but you also need to let her make her own friends too. It might be that somedays she will be the one saying I don't want to play with her. Just teach her what is right and move on. You always want to defend your kids. It breaks my heart when someone says something mean to my kids or they say someone hurt them. It is hard to stand back but sometimes you have to.

its not your daughter! My 3 1/2 yr old gets that at the park and at mcdonalds play place too. she will be all nice and friendly, ask them to play with her or her with them and they look right through her. I found that once i knew she has friends at school, it didnt break my heart as much when the strangers were, well frankly little bitches!! Luckly at school she seems to be popular as it is a very small school.
let me know if you want to try and get the girls together! we live in east orlando by semoran and old cheney!

I'm so sorry this happened to your daughter. If its any consolation this behavior is not gender specific. It has happened to my son too. Good luck.

J.,

Oh the joys of peers!
At such a young age, it ought not be this way, but unfortunately, too many have already learned to reject others.
It takes a village to raise a child. That being said, it is certainly ok to step in and stand up for your little one, as long as it is done with tact. You can approach the group of girls and say, my daughter is such a good friend to others, do you girls mind if she plays along with you? It sure would be a very sweet thing to do if you would be her friends and play with her.
Of course, there is no guarantee, but being approached by an adult kind of softens the response of a child and places a new perspective on things.
Girls tend to limit their friendships because they are more possessive and fear losing the friend that they have.
Just let your daughter know that there is nothing wrong with her, but that the other little girls just haven't learned how to include everyone yet. Tell her it may take them some more time, but eventually, they will see how kind she is and they will warm up to her.
Take Care,
T. (mom of 2 girls and 2 boys)

Sometimes I find the best advice comes from childrens literature. I have a three year old daughter who just LOVES Berenstein Bears (much like her mother before her haha). Recently we have been reading "The Berenstein Bears and the In-crowd" which adresses this very issue. A new girl in school takes the attention of all the kids, but she develops a special dislike for sister bear and without any apparent reason. Sisters friends leave her to go with this new girl...sister is heart broken at first. Mama feels a lot like you and tries to get her new clothes...but when sister puts them on she realizes she is who she is and she likes herself just that way! Then her and her one friend left sign up for a contest that leaves "queenie" a little tied up and brings sister her friends back. I like this book because it shows that you are who you are and that is someone to be proud of ALWAYS even when other people don't treat you this way. It shows that doing your OWN thing and loving it is the BEST way to triumph over the "Queenie's" of the world because after all children that have to make others feel bad must feel bad themselves...why stoop to their level or give them even another thought? I hope this helps a little...it's all i've got :) Good Luck!

As a former teacher, I would have had to say something to the little girls in the dance class. At the park, I would have asked the girls if my daughter could play. If they ignored me, I would have played with my little girl too, as you did.

Kids can be mean, but it is truly the parents fault for not teaching them manners & respecting others.

I definitely would mention it to the dance teacher to make sure during class the girls do not continue to be mean. Also, I would never let my young child (4) fight her own battles -- way too little.

I know it is difficult. I'm having problems connecting with the moms of my children's school friends, but it always makes it easier if moms try to connect with the moms of other kids. Then the kids could play.

Also, please remember. A mean little kid one day -- could be a nice kid the next day. Children need to learn appropriate behavior. I would stay close during dance class & try to model and encourage friendly behavior with those girls & their moms -- who are not doing their jobs as parents.

Kids are strange like that............my 4 year old is the same way.....very outgoing, sometimes she has problems with other girls who are not as outgoing (like at the park). At school she seems to get along with everyone, but when I try to talk with the other moms about getting them together outside school, they take my number and then never call........I find it quite strange here in Florida...I have lived here for 2 years and have two young children so I am at parks and playgroups alot and haven't been able to make a single friend here.............I too am very outgoing. I think you are doing fine.........I had a similar experience where the girls across the street a bit older than my daughter had a birthday party with a very visible jumpy castle and did not invite my daughter....now they are not even really "friends" they have played together a few times but nothing major, but I have to say the parents were wrong in this case because they live right across the street and are our neighbors and the party was outside!! Obviously my daughter was very upset and I tried to explain the situation the best I could but the sadness was there...................... I think once you meet with her school and make sure nothing crazy is going on, just explain to her that some kids/people are mean and try to move on to the next................All the best to you!

I am in Wellington, where are you? Maybe we could get our kids together?!

The park situation I think tends to happen commonly. As parents we tell our kids not to talk to strangers and then we expect them to invite them to play with us... ?.. how confusing is that for kids to figure out?! It takes a certain amount of maturity for the kids to be able to differentiate when it is okay and when it is not. What you did was great. If their parents were accessible at the park, I might have asked them (the moms) if it would be okay for them to include my child in the game... It all depends on the ages of the kids.

As far as the dance class situation, I've been witness to such things. It always strikes me as stunningly cold. But I honestly would have to ask WHY they would behave that way. There has to be a reason. Not the sort of reason an ADULT might have probably. Maybe something you are unaware of that happened during class or after or before class, or maybe something totally innocent and nice.. like your daughter suggesting they do something differently (trying to help them), or reminding them of a rule the teacher had said. Kids are notorious for "taking things the wrong way". My own kids do this with each other.. one says, put it on THAT way.. (trying to help) and the other gets mad and yells "I know how to do it!" or "I'm doing it!".. If your daughter is a rule follower (which is good) maybe the other kids don't like the comparisons (if the teacher uses her as an example during class?) and want to exclude her for that reason. Or if they feel like she "told" on them for something... It really could be just about anything, and it could be a SMALL thing. Girls are very "feelings" oriented. So some imagined "slight" on their part might be enough to prompt them to exclude her like that. I would have a private chat (nothing formal.. just a few moments out of earshot of everyone else- including your daughter's ears) with the instructor and ask if she knows of any reason the kids might be upset with your daughter. And just ask her to keep an eye out. And by all means, talk to your daughter. Explain how some kids get their feelings hurt unintentionally sometimes, and then get mad at the person they THINK is the cause.. maybe she did something without even knowing it (completely an innocent thing) that hurt one of their feelings for some reason. Ask her if she can think of anything that might have happened or that she might have done (even on accident) that might have hurt their feelings. You could ask her if she wants to ask one of them, "Did I do something to make you mad at me?" And if so, they'll probably tell her what it was. You can practice role playing this sort of conversation. If they say she did, she can say she's sorry, she didn't mean to _____. Then ask, Can we be friends again? Kids can be quick to forgive and move on... My son has learned quite well, to be quick to apologize when he argues with his little sister. They argue, he realizes they are wasting their playtime, and says.. "can we just be friends again?" and she says, "okay".. (sometimes grudgingly) and 30 seconds later they are back fully involved in whatever imaginary game they were playing before.. all the anger is forgotten. If she is not comfortable asking one of the girls directly, don't push her. Just let her know it is an option. As she matures she will use this skill (weighing her options) to make decisions more readily than just "reacting" to things...

But remind your daughter that there is nothing wrong with her. Maybe her friends were just having a bad day. Maybe even were jealous of her for some reason. But she is still a good friend and person and you love her. Give her a squeeze, and try to move on.

You might be surprised to find that at the next class it is like nothing even happened.. You just never know with kids this age. If they are together on a regular basis, they will have ups and downs just like every other relationship.. and they are learning how relationships work. Try not to build it up too much in your mind. But if things are still strained when you next go to class, talk to the instructor or the parents of the girls to try to figure out what happened.

Just wait until she starts school... it gets more like this every day. I seriously doubt there is anything at all "wrong" with your daughter's abilities with friendships. It is just part of growing up. And at 4, not a lot of kids have very good friends yet. They are just beginning to make those kinds of judgments. They might have kids they play with regularly (usually parent arranged) but that is not the same thing as "friends" of their own. And she will have friends. Plenty of them, I'm sure. She's only 4. Help her learn how to choose good friends, and she will have them.
good luck.

My personal belief is it takes a village to raise children so I rarely have a problem speaking to other people's children when they are being mean to other kids. Sometimes all it takes is for you to gently say something like, "That wasn't a very nice thing to say. You hurt my daughter's feelings." Some kids need to be taught empathy. As for the kids who ignored her at the park-- same thing-- just speak up. I wouldn't insist that they let your daughter play, but if they are ignoring her, you can say, "Excuse me- my daughter is trying to ask you something."

Hi J. - I think this is very common at this age. I have a son who is 5 - and a similar thing happened w/his friends at the playground (last year) - one of the boys told him he couldn't play so he came crying to me (my heart was broken for him) - so I told him to tell those boys "Too bad, I AM going to play - get over it!" and in fact, I took him over to where his friends were and said (nicely), "ok boys, we are all going to play together - Kristian is playing too." And they were all happy and played just fine together. I think kids are just testing their boundaries - they don't really know what they are saying - or what the consequences will be. One thing that I tell my son is to treat other people like he would like to be treated (especially when he's beating up on his baby brother - lol) I hope that helps.

Hey J., I know the frustration well, I have 5 children 3 of them are older and been there,I learned fast about how children are. First there friends one day the next day they aren't and then the next day they are. It goes on and on. I wouldn't worry about it, because im pretty sure when she goes back to dance class the children will be friends again. I really don't think it has to do with your daughter being friendly its just their age, and its going to continue through their elementary school years. My oldest is 16 and i remember when she was younger she come home in tears, and i would tell her maybe her friend was having a bad day. The next day they were friends, my other 2 daughters are 9 and almost 7 and i hear it all the time. I think if you just sit down and talk with your daughter and explain to her that sometimes we have bad days, and if there is someone who doesn't want to play with her at all then you can tell her its ok she can make other friends and try to explain friendship to her. I know they are young and this does break mothers heart to see our children trying to become their own little person and have friends and to see our children hurt but it will get better as she gets older. I am sure she is doing fine in school with friends to. Ask her how her day was and what friends she played with and what they did and if she ate lunch with them. I hope this helps, let us know what happens
S. Mom to 5 beautiful children, 16yrs,9years,7years,3years,11months check out my son's journey at www.liamlockhart.com

J.,
As a mother of a 7-year-old daughter I recently learned that 'mean-girl' syndrome starts MUCH younger than when I was young. I don't know if this is the right thing to do or not, but this is what I pretty much always do if having my daughter just ignore the mean girls (because they are really just unhappy little girls that I don't really want my daughter to be influenced by anyway, right :-)) I will go up to the 'mean girls' with my daughter and introduce my daughter and myself. I will then, in a very nice was so as not to embarass my daughter, explain to them that she would like to play & I am SO sure that they will be nice enough to make her feel included because they wouldn't want to be left out either, would they. I haven't had it turn out negatively yet. So, you could give it a try. Good luck.

J.,
This is something all moms faced at some point. Unfortunately, you are not raising the world, therefore you can not control other peoples children. What you can do is explain to your daughter that you have taught her to be polite and courteous to all children and that not everybody has been as fortunate. Trying to have her or you understand other people's behavior will only frustrate you both. She will eventually need to develop a thick skin to deal with all the "ugly" people out there. When my daughter, now 13 was 5 and in kindergarten, she too came home with a similar problem. I knew who she was complaining about already because I saw that little girl and the way she navigated the classroom. I told her she should see who is nice and who is not nice and only play with those girls/boys that are pleasant. However, I also told her not to be like that little girl and be mean. This apparently worked because now she is in 7th grade and has never had a problem with any of the "Mean" girls in school. (you know they will also be "mean" girls)In fact she can navigate all the cliques and come out unscaved.
Empower her to be able to choice WHO SHE wants to spend HER time with. Not to feel rejected. Not to do the same mean things.
Remember, that part of our job as mothers is to give our children the tools they need to be productive members of society and deal with all types of people.
My favorite speech to my daughter is; you cant's choose your neighbor, your boss or your co-worker. They are who they are, deal with it and get along.
Hope this helps,

H.

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