My Daughter Wants Friends. How Do I Encourage and Support Her in That?

Updated on May 31, 2016
J.B. asks from Bedminster, NJ
24 answers

In advance, sorry this is terribly long ladies. I really appreciate your time and thoughts on this.

My daughter really wants friends. When we go to any place that she can play such as a beach or park she says "Who can I play with"? I taught her to say something like 'Do you want to play?' Or 'My name is ___, do you want to play (a game). Personally, I had lots of friends in public school but very limited time with others around my age after leaving public school and homeschooling after 5th grade, so hardly any or no friends at times. I don't want this for my children.

My attempts have backfired and I end up forcing situations for my daughter. The friend she picked at preschool (I put her in preschool primarily for friends/social time because there aren't any kids living near us for her to play with) started straight up ignoring her at school halfway through the year. She finally made another good friend (she was so happy) in class and so I tried to set up a play date with her mom and was given excuse after excuse why she couldn't so I got frustrated and just said 'never mind' and 'why does nobody want to do a play date?' She just stared at me.

My daughter is thoughtful and pretty mature for her age (I think). I feel she gets taken advantage of especially when kids want to play with her toys (at the beach, etc) rather than her and parents of the other child(ren) don't do anything about it. This seems to happen extremely frequently.

My bigger thought/question is that I want her to have good friends with parents who are kind and teaching their kids the same. How/where do I find this? Can I find this in a school setting? What kind of school? This has been going on ever since she could communicate it. My mom's reaction to this type of situation (unkind kids) for me was to homeschool and although I didn't mind at the time, I wish I had had friends rather than acquaintances through the rest my educational years. (At the same time I think homeschooling is a good choice for an excellent education-including mine-as long as there are frequent and regular friendship opportunities.) I am looking for some way to offer opportunities and my daughter to find good friendships. I know she is only 4 and friendships at that age morph but I don't want her only experiences to be negative. Please help! Thanks in advance, I look forward to your comments.

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answers from Dallas on

I believe your expectations are too high for a 4 year old. She is 4, not 14!!

My daughter, now 21, is my only child. She was raised around other "like" families from day one, went to Mother's Day Out, Preschool and then started her way through the educational system. We went with public education because our area has one of the best systems in the country which I pay high dollar taxes for and it was worth every penny.

In the beginning, I happened to have 3 neighbors who were friends and we all had our first baby within 2-4 months of each other. We got together daily with our children and even though we all moved to different school districts within the Plano/Dallas area, we remain friends to this day and so do our children.

I think it is important to have friends from multiple outlets... as in not all from school, preschool, etc but look into whatever sport/activity your child is involved in, your church, other activities.

My daughter had a certain group of friends from her martial arts family, orchestra, cheerleading and so on. These friends change from time to time and that is normal.

I've been in the school system teaching as well about 15 years and children develop friendships at different levels. I see A LOT of situations with the best and dearest friends being those whose families were close and socialized together while the children were growing up. Prime example is the neighbors we had a bond with from day 1 and that bond will always be there with those families and friends, no matter where we end up living.

Your daughter is 4. Please don't let your high expectations and anxiety about friendships rub off on her. Believe me, she picks up on your anxiety. YOU model the behavior YOU want her to have. Go to the library story times, book store story times, etc. There are a lot of opportunities to meet other parents and children that cost no money is that is an issue.

Be patient and give her time... she will be 21 before you know it!! Enjoy the and downs and you will both grow.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Welcome to Mamapedia!!

You're forcing things and your daughter doesn't have the social skills to carry out friendships.

You need to role play with her. You also need to step back and WATCH her interact with others WITHOUT BIAS - this is hard - as you see your daughter as something and other see her differently....

You, yourself, are having problems as well with your outburst to another parent.

It's summer - put her in summer camps - watch her from afar and see how she interacts with others.

If you attend church? Sunday School classes and their summer camps are a good way to go as well.

You CANNOT force friends. You just can't. People are picking up on that and feeling pushed and forced and its turning them off - that's why you can't get play dates. Breathe. Chill. Stop forcing things.

She is FOUR YEARS OLD. Give her a chance to grow.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think you are pushing too much for a 4 year old. Kids are just learning to socialize, and a great deal of what they do is really parallel play - that is, 2 kids are doing the same thing and not entirely at the level of really interacting and having a major interchange. Many of them have short attention spans.

Your own experience of being home schooled with limited interaction may have affected your viewpoint. Perhaps it's something you missed as a child and which you regret, and which you are projecting onto her. It's interesting that your mother's reaction at your young age was to remove you from a situation in which you could learn, and the other kids could learn, additional social skills.

It may come across - even though this is not your intent - that your daughter and you are trying to hard. Maybe that is why the other mother just looked at you - or maybe she's just an unsocial jerk. Hard to know - it could be anything along an entire spectrum. As far as the beach interaction with strangers, I think you may be noticing that people just are way too protective of kids playing with strangers, and also that there's a real lack of parenting when it comes to manners (like sharing toys). So I'd suggest that kids who show an interest in your daughter's toys be allowed to play with them - but where your daughter is playing. So if she's building a cool sand castle or using water toys at the shoreline (pouring water through water wheels and building trenches for little boats, whatever she's doing), other kids can be welcomed but not allowed to take the toys elsewhere. And I'd get a big sharpie and put her name on those toys! Anything that can't be written on can perhaps have a big piece of ribbon tied to it, anything to make it stand out.

Resist the urge to orchestrate friendships, and encourage her to do activities. I don't favor getting young kids into too many scheduled things - I think it regiments them way too early and they wind up not being able to play creatively or occupy themselves. But going to the park, the library story hour, the playground, the state park picnic grounds...all provide opportunities for fun in situations where she MAY meet other kids. You can consider inviting another family to join you or meet you there - then there is a venue or activity (story time or playground equipment, for example) and there is less focus on who is needy enough to beg for a play date. (That may not be your intent, but it may be how your actions are being viewed by someone else.)

Otherwise, I'd just be patient until all the kids are older and able to be at a similar level for engaging in social relationships without awkwardness. An awful lot happens in the early elementary grades when kids are in larger classes and have a larger choice of friends as well as more opportunities for teachers mixing them up in different working groups.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

First, I usually see 'friendships' developing more in second and third grade, to be honest. Before that, kids are often trying out relationships with different kids. Some kids are more social than others. Many kids at four and five will still find parallel play with a new person safer and far easier than that deeper, more detailed/directed play.

I remember when Kiddo was five and starting kindergarten. He asked, repeatedly, if other kids wanted to play with him. They ignored him. They were young and doing what they were doing, present in the moment. The one kid who would play with him was lining kids up for running races. Kiddo hated coming in last and removed himself from that activity.

I would say, be patient and look for opportunities where there is common interest. (What we would tell any adult who wanted new friends,right?) Kids develop socially at different rates and in different ways. What you are wanting at four you may not get for quite a long time, you know? Mine is nine, and it was his introduction to Minecraft last year which finally got other kids to notice him as someone besides the quirky kid. He's strengthened numerous friendships because of this one thing.

I, too, understand the desire for finding people who click for our kids. It just takes time if you want it to happen organically and 'stick', you know? One of the best surprises was a mom I became friends with last year... she was the parent of a female classmate of Kiddos. Turns out, our kids play exceptionally well together and truly enjoy each other. If she and I hadn't become friends first, who knows if the kids would have connected? They play in the best ways and are delightful to watch. Be patient. Know that the good things happen in their own time.

ETA: re-reading your question, it may be that your demeanor in that moment is too intense for the other moms. Getting mad at a mom you are trying to approach doesn't send an "I'm a caring, patient person" message and will only make you less approachable, not more. I'm not saying this to be mean-- I used to teach preschool as well as being a preschool mom myself, so I have observed a lot of inter-parent dynamics. One mom who invited us over for a playtime ended up screaming at her daughter. It scared my son and left me rather shook up as well. Neither of us wanted to be around her. Another mom was a close-talker and had no filter; she wanted our kids to go to the same school after preschool. Parents of preschoolers don't have an easy road, socially. You have to kiss a lot of frogs, in a way. One moms' group I used to hang out with (but dropped due to some unchecked, dangerous behavior on the part of one kid) decided to ask me to facilitate a conversation regarding what sort of play the group wanted for their children. I'd already left that group but was happy to help them come up with an emotionally safe way to discuss this amongst themselves. That said, I would never *choose* to be in a group which required That Much Work. So please, consider what your expectations is of other moms and their kids and how much you really think is reasonable to expect. If someone approached my son and he didn't want to play with them, I wouldn't force them. Just like I'd expect that I wouldn't be asked to be friends with someone I wasn't interested in. Relax about it!

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answers from Boston on

Take deep breath. You are expecting WAY too much out of 4 year olds. Perhaps to ease your mind it would make sense to schedule some for a brief meeting with her pre-school teacher and she can let you know if she sees any patterns worth noting or if this is just pre-schoolers being pre-schoolers.

I have 4 kids. None of the first 3 had real friends before Kindergarten and even those K+ friendships were mostly fickle in the early years. My youngest son was more socially mature than his siblings (perhaps from watching them) so he was very take-charge and would invite kids to come and play at our house at the end of the pre-school day or would get the class list out, pick up the phone and invite someone over. He got into a pattern where he would arrange play dates 2-3 days a week. Even with all that, only one of those friendships endured beyond pre-school (he's 10 now). They move on to new grades, new classrooms, new sports teams, etc. and each new setting is an opportunity to test the strength of existing friendships (were they really friends or just in the same place at the same time?) and try out new ones. And on and on it goes.My two high school age kid didn't meet their best friends until late into middle school. My 12 year old has a couple of friends from as far back as 2nd grade but most are from the last year or two. They constantly change who they are friends with and sometimes when friendships end it can be hurtful or not graceful, but life goes on.

Rather than try to force the issue of friends, focus on having her try activities that she likes, or get into a routine of going to playground on a routine schedule or going to story hour at the library, etc. where she might bump into the same kids more than once in a low-key setting and over time, casual friendships may evolve. There is a very robust Facebook page for moms in my town and I notice that the moms of younger kids will post "hey we're going to the park at 11 today, does anyone want to meet up?" and there will usually be a couple of positive responses followed later by "it was so nice to meet you, we'll have to do that again" so I see friendships developing that way too, between parents, and then the kids get together because their parents do. That might be a good approach for you.

Another thing is that I'm guessing from your post that you are an at-home mom? Something else to consider when you're talking to other parents is that for those who work outside of the home, their child's social life is the last thing on their mind. I remember with my oldest, there were kids in Kindergarten who wanted to do play dates and I remember being so frazzled by the idea of fitting in yet another appointment into the schedule that I blew off the idea completely. So the brush off you're getting on play dates might be from people just too busy for this. When my youngest was the play date master, I worked from home several days a week and his friends' parents included someone who worked 3rd shift, someone with a grandmother at home and someone who was a SAHM so we all had availability to host and pick up and drop off in the afternoon.

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answers from Beaumont on

I would focus less on "finding friends" than focusing on her interests. Does she have any outside interests i.e. dance, girl scouts, sports, swimming, gymnastics? Once she plugs into things she's interested in and meets other like-minded girls, they'll instantly have that connection thus a great start at a friendship. Regarding finding like-minded parents, they're everywhere, you just have to weed through the others to find them.
Her being 4 might be a factor also. I'm not sure many Mom's are looking for lifetime friendships for their kids yet at that age. They're still in the Mommy and me stage.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

Don't be too harsh with someone who continually says no to play dates. When my kids were 4, play dates were just too much for me with other things I was dealing with. I was one who continually "made excuses." Not because I didn't like the moms or the kids requesting the play dates but it was because of what was going on in our lives.

My kids best friends were the kids they went to daycare with for 5 hours a day 5 days a week from the time they were infants up until they started kindergarten. Their friendships ebbed and flowed all through those five years. Now they have different friends even though they still see some of their friends from daycare at school. We still rarely do play dates. But, my kids have lots of friends.

Give it time. The friendships will develop, but it does take time.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I suggest her preschool teacher and aids will be your most important resource. I also suggest that when you are at the park, beach or other places with her that you get directly involved. Most four year old don't know how to be social. Go with her when she asks to play. If the other child doesn't seem interested, repeat my daughter would like to play with you. Perhaps the two of you could build a sand castle. Then sit down with them to get started. I also suggest that you take toys with you. Then you can suggest playing something with her toys. If their toys would work with her toys, get them started using both set of toys.

Four year old just do not know how to get started. They need help to get started. I suggest other moms may not be concerned about their children playing with others.

My grandchildren around that age liked to chase each other. When it seemed appropriate, I'd suggest playing chase. My just turned 5yo granddaughter is finishing the year in preschool. The teacher and aids talk about all the children being friends. My granddaughter calls classmates her friends. She talks about a few by name but not often. She is shy and likes to play by herself. The nearly 3 yo granddaughter walks up to children ànd says high. She wants to play with them but only briefly. A short exchange is enough for her. Their personalities are different.

I suggest that there will be kids who won't want to play and that's OK. During my years observing kids, I find that kids this age have a different concept of friends than we have. Most often, nearly everyone they know is called a friend. Friendships are casual an mostly superficial. Why does your daughter feel that she doesn't have friends? Perhaps she is trying to meet other's perception of the meaning of friends at her age.

Again, I suggest you talk with her teacher and the school counselor. Will she continue to be with this group this summer? Our schools are out in 2 weeks. I suggest calling right away.

I also suggest you read about the social development of children. You will probably find info by go ogling those words.

I suggest that you tell your daughter that the children in her class are friends. Point out friends that interact with her even if only briefly. Start a conversation about what she wants from a friend and who are friends at this age. You may find that a different approach may be more helpful. She may be more specific in telling you what she wants.

I just remembered an incident with my foster daughter. She had just turned chronologically 7 when she came to live with me. She was actually younger than that in several ways. When I took her to daycare the first day, she took her doll with her. As she walked into the room she held out her doll and asked if anyone wanted to play with the doll. I don't know the result. It is another way to get started.

BTW 5 is a bit young for play dates that focus on the child. They are an opportunity for moms to get together. When the mom works, has several children, has an already busy social life, or just doesn't want the awkwardness of getting together with a stranger, they will not be interested in a playdate.

My daughter started having playdate around 8. My now 15 yo granddaughter went to friend's to play around 10. I stayed for long enough to know enough that I felt she was safe.

My mind keeps coming back to wandering if both of you and your different have ideas of what makes a friend. Why does she think she doesn't have friends? Classmates are friends.

If their are several kids in the places you take her, with your help, she will find someone to play with. I suggest you go to the same playground over and over. Mom's will get to know you and be more helpful. I've found, that when I play with my grandchild, at least one other child becomes interested and joins us. Then another. I'm able to sit on the bench and watch.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Just put her in social situations (classes, camps, crafts, etc) and let nature take its course.
Parents aren't suppose to get involved (unless there's bullying or someone is throwing sand around in others faces).
There is no arranging BFFs.
Either kids are compatible or they aren't.
Sometimes - ignoring someone who's being bossy is the correct solution to a problem.
Kids - especially at 4 (and 5 and 6) are learning the rules of engagement - and yeah - mistakes are made - squabbling, tantrums and arguments break out.
You teach your daughter to treat others as she would like to be treated.
Whether your daughter is mature for her age or not - her potential playmates more than likely are not - and even just that disparity can make it harder than you'd think to just strike up casual pick up playing.
She's going to have to learn how to handle that - and it just takes experience and trying over and over again.

"I want her to have good friends with parents who are kind and teaching their kids the same".
I think I know what you mean but that's kind of odd.
Other parents might like your kid - but they are not friends - and you are not going to be friends with other peoples kids.
Being friendly is not the same as being friends.

You are going to learn - eventually - that just because other people have kids and are parents - they are not necessarily your friends or have your (or your child s) best interests at heart.
Especially in pre-teen and teen years - other people have other ideas about makeup, promiscuity, piercings, tattoos, alcohol, smoking, movie ratings and what age they allow their kids to see mature content, etc.
Some of this can be handled by finding like minded people by joining a church - but even that can take some searching.

Relax and don't try to over think this.
Other parents (and kids) are put off by people who seem clingy and are trying too hard.
Kids come together for short times, play for a bit, then go their separate ways - and that's FINE!
She's only 4 - you've got a long way to go - and this is only one thing of dozens of things that will pop up over the years.

I just wanted to add - it's a great skill to be able to amuse ones self without the constant pressure of always NEEDING friends too.
Playtime with others is fine - but there's nothing wrong with building a pillow fort and having a tea party with your teddy bear either.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Your last paragraph was interesting (about wanting friends with parents who are teaching their kids similar to the way you're teaching yours, and wondering if that exists in a school setting). My opinion is that you usually find people whose values are similar to your own in a voluntary setting. Most kids are in school, and their parents send them to school, because it's what we do, and truancy laws exist, and most people don't think twice about it. You're 5, you're going to kindergarten.

However, when you find a voluntary situation that you are not required to attend, become part of, participate in, you often find like-minded people. It may be a protest (violent or non-violent), a church or religious group, community theater, a sport (whether competitive or just for fun), a crafting group, a hospital charity project, libraries, active homeschool groups, or politics (not voting or debating, I mean volunteering at the local office or showing up to distribute flyers or gathering at a rally). When you find your passion, and you follow it to a group or community or organization that shares that passion, you often find like-minded people.

So think about what drives you. It sounds like you want friendship. Have you joined something, anything? Do you volunteer at a shelter (human or animal)? Do you meet up with quilters or scrapbookers or photography enthusiasts or do you volunteer anywhere? If you do want to homeschool, it shouldn't be just because you want your daughter to have friends. You've got to be committed to homeschooling and all that it entails, and you will want to find a homeschool group that is welcoming and active, and based on your values (some are religious, some are not, some are "unschooling" with child-driven curriculums, some value classical education, some value field trips and traditional education).

That's how I think you and your daughter will find friends - through participation in a practice that interests you. Don't just pick gymnastics, for example, because it looks like everyone is having fun and cheering for each other, when gymnastics is not something you or your child has ever done and simply attempting a somersault makes her throw up and become dizzy. Don't choose based on appearances, choose based on your heart's passion.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

First you need to work on yourself. The kid friendships will come easily, but you may be the one who causes the other kids' parents to say no to playdates.

1. You said you want kind. It is rude to say "Never mind" and "Why does nobody want a playdate?" to the other mom. You can work on your kindness.

2. If she is under age 6, most of her friends will be your friends' kids. You need to connect with other moms/parents/grandparents who have kids. I say this because I did not drop off my kids when they were young, so that meant I was hanging out with the mom and it would have to be someone I wanted to spend my time with too.


First you need to work on yourself. The kid friendships will come easily, but you may be the one who causes the other kids' parents to say no to playdates.

1. You said you want kind. It is rude to say "Never mind" and "Why does nobody want a playdate?" to the other mom. You can work on your kindness.

2. If she is under age 6, most of her friends will be your friends' kids. You need to connect with other moms/parents/grandparents who have kids. I say this because I did not drop off my kids when they were young, so that meant I was hanging out with the mom and it would have to be someone I wanted to spend my time with too.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My kids at that age were 'friends' with the whole class. They may have liked one particular child a lot (probably played with more) but by the time they went off to Kindergarten that all changed. I suspect your daughter is the same.

If you're at a park or beach, etc. I would just let her play - and see who approaches her.
If her way isn't working -just take a break from it and it will likely happen :)

Just encourage her to be friendly and acknowledge other kids. As Marda suggested bring toys, play with her - and the kids who also want to find a child will play with - will approach her. Just be open to it and keep an eye out for them. If one approaches then have her say "Do you want to play". Or maybe you help her find kids that look like they'd be open to it. Shy kids or ones who are playing with siblings, not so much.

I'm not sure kids are taking advantage of her by playing with her toys and not her. At that age, that's what they kind of do. We have some play dates where the kids are just super interested in my kids' toys - to begin with. They are just checking them out.

I agree with Marda - that once they are a bit older and they organize their own play dates it's much easier. I find it hard when they are little too - because kids are in after school care, or activities up the wazoo and not everyone is available. Don't take that personally.

You could talk to the teachers and see if they have any ideas, but at that age - this all seems pretty typical. Mine naturally gravitated towards kids with the same values and from families similar to ours (just family focused) once they'd been in a school a couple of years. What also helps as she goes into school, is to put her in an activity after school or on weekends that she enjoys. She'll meet kids with same interests.

Good luck :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Have you talked to your daughter's preschool teachers? Maybe they have some insight as to why her friendships at school are strained. I would be super direct and pretty much tell them to be blunt with me. They probably have insight, and may be able to help her at preschool.

I would stop seeking out the "playdate" Kids these days seem to beg and lead their parents for playdates and it creates a lot of pressure and in my opinion, too much parent directed socialization. It's really OK just to let school friends be school friends until kids are old enough to take the lead in planning get togethers outside of school. I would keep her as busy as possible with activities she enjoys in your community, and hopefully friendships will form naturally. Let your child take the lead.

Keep her busy, keep her in places there are many other children her age. Watch and coach her if necessary on how to communicate with her peers. Other than that, try to not let her pick up on your own anxiety for her. Accept that ultimately, you can't pick or "find" the right kind of friends for her. That is something she will be learning to do for herself.

Don't be too worried about the preschool class. Does she enjoy the class activities? The whole group will change when she goes to kindergarten.

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answers from Boston on

Sunday School. Find a nearby church and you both attend Sunday School (there are classes for adults too). You do not have to stay for services but if you did you would find that most church folk are wonderful in all the ways you seek.

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answers from Springfield on

I think it's really hard when they are in the preschool years because the kids are so dependent on the parents being friends. If the parents can't or are not willing to have playdates, the kids just miss out. Once they hit the grade school years, parents begin to drop their kids off. It's just less of a commitment to have play dates when only one parent needs to be there.

I understand your concerns, but I encourage you not to worry too much. When she's in school she will meet more and more kids and find her crowd. It can be more of a challenge in the summer when school's out. My oldest (9 years old) goes to various camps. He also goes to Vacation Bible Schools. We will even invite his friends from school over now and then.

Just keep giving her opportunities to do fun things with other kids. The more she does this, the better she we be at it and the more people she will meet. It will happen.

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answers from Santa Barbara on

First I want to say I can tell you really love your daughter and want what's best for her. As a loving mom you want what's best for her and above all to see her happy. I have first hand experience with how hard social worries with your child can be. I just went through some friend issues with my son who is 14. A wise woman there wrote that when our kids hurt so do we. I believe that and I know even though I did my best to remove my self emotional I still hurt for him.

I think you have got some great advice here with talking to her teachers, camps and out side activities. All great stuff!! I thought I would still toss my thoughts in too in case I might be able to help in any way.

If this happen to my daughter I would find a quite moment when I wouldn't be bisturbed to try to remove my emotions from the situation. Think about her good points and the point in her charter that others might have a harder time dealing with. A note here I actually do do this with both my son and daughter. Its one of those thing easer said than done because I love my kids do much its always easy to see the good and to look at their flaws can at times be painful. However if I do this it helps me see what others might see and I can then help them to work through them. It really is a way I use to protect them from this kind of pain again (I hope).

I would ask the teacher in the class simply how she is doing. How are things like her ABC or whatever they have been working on in class. Good info can be glened from that too. Then if the teacher does not say anything about you daughter and friends toss that in at the end of the conversation. "How do you think she is doing socially?"

At 4 play dates are kind of hard. They require that Mom or Dad go and be apart of the date too. Most folks won't turn their young one over to someone they don't really know so they have to go and like someone here already said if they have a busy work schedule or other kids this could be hard to do. While I agree with others to not push the play date thing anymore if you want to still try I would change your aproch just a bit. Say something like "Hey (name here) my daughter has the most wonderful things to say about you daughter and has said that she would love to play outside of school. I know people are really busy but could I give you my number and then if you have time sometime maybe we could work out a date that the kids could play" or something along those lines.

For outside activities find something that she has to interact with others and that she is interested in. When my daughter was about that age she took a 30 beginning dance class (there was more running around and giggling than actually dance but it was great and she loved it). I would also encourage you to make a friend or two with the other adults/caregivers of the other kids at whatever activities your daughter attends. If you and another mom meet up some time for coffee or something then your children can play while you both get some time to relax.

This is long enough as it is but I wanted to second others thoughts on not trying to push things too hard. Friends are going to come and go as your daughter grows. She will make friends, they will fight and not talk to each other and then a few days later be friends again. That normal. Its going to happen but its something that your beautiful daughter is going to have to learn to deal with on her own. I know its hard because you love her so much but sometimes its best to take a step back and let the child try to work things out on her own. Really in the end i think the best that you can do is love her, support her, guide her and hope for the best.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

At pre-school age a playdate usually involves both moms with the kids. It can be an awkward situation for moms. When my kids were pre-school age most of the playdates they had were with kids from our playgroup, whose moms I had become friends with. It was a good way for my kids to practice their social skills, and a chance for me to spend time with my friends. By the time they went to school they started playdates with school friends that no longer involved both moms. One mom would host the playdate and not have to worry about entertaining the other mom.

If you want her to meet children from like minded families try having her join girl scouts or a church group, or join a playgroup for moms and kids.

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answers from San Francisco on

***ETA: I know you said she says she wants "friends" but what she really means is she just wants someone to play with.***
In preschool they focus on being kind, sharing, taking turns, listening, expressing emotions in an appropriate way, learning basic fine/large motor and social skills. They don't actually make true friendships at this point so please stop expecting that. Mostly they play together, or side by side, or alone, or all of the above, every child is different. And when they go to the park or something public like that they are just playing together in the same space, not forming relationships.
Just keep your daughter busy and active and by the time she is in elementary school she will have some buddies, and by 3rd or 4th grade she'll start having more actual friendships. You're expecting too much too soon.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I think your daughter is young to be thinking about this, and perhaps you are extrapolating your own (5th grade) experience onto hers (preK). I found that friendships were hit and miss at that age, and sometimes quite uneven - eg, at one point my son had a kid he called his best friend, but that friend called someone else his best friend, not my son. The reality is that none of them are good at picking up social cues at that age, and friendships morph daily. Think about it - until age 4 (and for some kids, for a while longer), kids are still in the stage of development where they do parallel play, not interactive play. So of course they don't really form friendships. And no, 3 year olds are not 'taking advantage of her' when they want to play with her toys and not her. That is what 2-4 year olds do! Parallel play. You are expecting waaaay to much from preschoolers in terms of social maturity.

My son really started making friends once he was in 1st and 2nd grade. The kids are just different from preschool and K, developmentally, and it happens more naturally. And friendships were really cemented when he got old enough to start joining clubs and teams.

Give it time.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think the first step is to try and relax. Have faith that your girlie will figure this part of life out but not without some bumps and set backs along the way. Keep involving her in activities that expose her to lots of different kids. Park districts often have a ton of activities to choose from or check with your local library. Blessings!!

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answers from Philadelphia on

Both of my girls best friends are girls that they met in theatre camp. These girls do not go to their school. They have BFF's at school too but their closest friends are those friends where they share a common interest.

Your daughter is only 4 so there is still plenty of time for her to form friendships. My advice to you is to help her find her passion whether it be sports, a musical instrument, theatre, etc. Once she finds it then the friends will follow.

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answers from Washington DC on

Are you in a homeschooling co-op? Does your YMCA offer activities for homeschooling kids? How about dance, or eventually brownies scouts, soccer or t-ball. See if there are any organized mommy and me groups or art classes in your area.

Lastly, and maybe you don't want to hear this, but maybe she would be happier in a school setting and you could supplement her education at home, if you feel it is lacking. Do some research and visit schools in your area to get a feel for them. To answer your question, you will find good and bad parents and kind and mean kids everywhere. That's life. Your job is to help her navigate through it and come out stronger on the other end.

Added:sorry, I think I might have misunderstood. I was thinking you wanted to homeschool her and because of that, she wasn't able to meet friends. My son goes to a small Catholic school and we have met some very wonderful ( and a few not so wonderful) people there!

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answers from Washington DC on

4 is too young to worry about this. I still tell my 9, 11, and 12 year old kids to go introduce themselves and play. At the pool on Sunday, some kids were playing Marco Polo...I did NOT want to get in the pool because the water was too cold for me. My 9 year old wanted to play though, so I told him to go ask to join. He did and had a great time. Kids are normally more than willing to welcome new friends in to play games.

I had trouble with play dates. I worked full-time from the time my oldest was almost 3 and my middle was just 1. My sister babysat them, so they were able to sometimes hang out, but not often. It's hard when life is so busy and play dates mean constant attention.

Just let her figure it out. Help guide her to be a kind friend but not let her be taken advantage of. Her experience will only be negative if a big deal is made out of things. Let the pieces fall and it will be fine.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

At age 4 she's still learning to do play. She is ending parallel play and actually interacting with other children playing the same thing as her.

She will likely be just fine in the fall when she starts Pre-K, she should do the most program she can. That way she'll spend the whole day with the same kids in and out.

I suggest you make some friends with kids the same age. Our kids were never alone. I had several friends and we were always at each other's houses even if it was just to hang out with each other. Our kids were always together and some days they even got along and played well

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