HomeHealth & BehaviorSocial Skills

Ask the Experts

How can I help my child make friends?

By Dr. Ruth Jacoby, Educational Consultant


There doesn't seem to be much supervision on the playground at lunch recess. As a parent of a fairly shy girl, how much can I expect the school to help her make social transitions into play on the schoolyard? In what ways do schools physically help first-graders with social skills, specifically at recess?


Since your child is shy and you are worried, contact the teacher and ask for a conference. At this meeting, come prepared with a list of your questions and concerns so you don't leave out anything.

Stress to the teacher that your main area of concern is your daughter's shyness, especially when it comes to making friends. Tell her that you would appreciate any suggestions and input she may have, and ask her how she might encourage your daughter to become friends with some of her classmates at recess. You may ask her to buddy up your daughter with a peer who has similar interests and personalities while they are at recess, and maybe during group project time in the classroom.

Ask the teacher if there is a special student your daughter seems to like and if it is possible for them to exchange phone numbers so that you can set a play-date after school. This may encourage an outside-of-school friendship.

Remember to thank the teacher after the meeting for assisting you and your daughter, and to ask her to keep you posted on how things are going. You may want to request a follow-up conference date just to have a short chat about the progress your daughter is making.

Dr. Ruth Jacoby has been involved in education for more than 30 years as an educator, principal and currently as an educational consultant in Florida. She is the co-author of the School Talk! Success Series including Parent Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication With the School and Your Child, Homework Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication About Your Child's Homework and Test Talk!: Understanding the Stakes and Helping Your Children Do Their Best.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.

Comments from readers

"i wont my child to have fun with math "
"My daughter is really shy around adults and wouldn't speak to anyone unless spoken to. She is in 8th grade and has been shy since kindergarten. Making friends was easy when she was little, but now, that she is in a new school, in another state she is totally shy. How do I help her make and meet girls her age and break this shyness even with adults. I am speaking about aunts and uncles, she wouldn't talk to them. Any suggestions? "
"my 11yr old boy has dyslexia ,adhd, anxiety he suffers in social settings. He does not know when other children are being mean to him or making fun of him they get him to do things that get him in trouble what can I do?"
"My child is third grade she has problems making friends and is isolated at play and independent work time what can we do to help her, I have spoken to the teacher she seems interested by doesn't provide any concrete help."
"Shouldn't a child make his of her own friends?"
"Thanks to great schools,this is really a helpful & informative article"
"In our local preschool, we found out the names of students that would be attending her new school especially those that were assigned to her track and classroom. I made a real effort to build a relationship with those mothers and to encourage outside activities with these specific kids. My daughter is very outgoing and social. That was not a real area of concern. I wanted her to start at with a support system so that we could 'cross this off the list' as a stressor for her. "
"for some people it s hard to make a long lasting friendship"
"very good article need more of this type in the future."
"I don't have a feedback, but I have a question about this school, because my mother wants me to go to this school next year. I was wondering if the students have to wear uniforms, or their own clothes. If you get this, can you answer as fast as you can, by posting a comment about this email. That will help me make up my mind really fast."
"Get him evaluated RIGHT AWAY. Do NOT trust your family doctor - they do not have enough training to diagnose. I have heard many stories of doctors saying there is nothing wrong with a child who has autism, for various reasons such as not wanting it to be true, not wanting to hurt the parents, lack of knowledge, even political & financial pressures. If your son does have autism, the sooner you treat it, the more success you will have. If your son does not have autism, then you will not worry about it anymore. Read more at"
"I have a question, My son is 3 years and is very independant. In his Sunday school class he doesn't play with the other kids during play time. He's not shy or a bully and is very coordinated and able to do all the activities very well, he just is happier playing by himself. His teacher says that she tries to get him to play and then just gives up, he is happy by himself. Would Montissori education work well for him, could he be autistic? He speaks very well and my brother who had autism only speaks a few words, so I don't think that's it and my family doctor doesn't think so either. But I hate to see him so alone while other kids play. Cathy Jackson"