By Dr. Stacie Bunning, clinical psychologist
For the past two weeks, my 4-year-old has come home from preschool every day saying that nobody will play with her. My daughter is a sweet girl but can be very sensitive, demanding, and whiny. I have not seen many interactions with her classmates, but her teacher says the other kids tell her they do not like her. (Another teacher told me she is the teacher's pet.) How can I help her make friends?
At 4 years old, some children still lack the necessary skills to develop friendships and get along in a group setting. Temperament certainly plays a role in this: Easygoing, cheerful children tend to make friends easily and adapt well to new situations. Sensitive, cautious kids like your daughter often have a harder time and are more likely to cling to adults and be left out of other children’s activities and games.
Help your daughter get to know her classmates outside of preschool by approaching another parent and arranging a playdate. Keep it short and simple by planning a one- or two-hour get-together with just one other child. Meeting at a park, library, or indoor playground are good bets, since the locations are neutral and both children can focus on the same things. If this goes well, try setting up another playdate at your house or the friend’s home.
Do this with a few other kids so that your daughter develops friendships that can be transferred to the classroom. Also, consider enrolling her in a small-group extracurricular activity such as gymnastics, dance, or swimming. That way, she’ll learn valuable social skills while reaping the health benefits of an active lifestyle.
Talking regularly with your daughter’s teacher will help you get a clearer picture of her progress. Set up a weekly meeting, and find out what happens when other kids tell your child they do not like her. Does the teacher tell your daughter how to respond, or does she spend more time comforting her, possibly leading to the “teacher’s pet” label? Is your daughter provoking these comments or saying similar things to other children but just not telling you? Ask for suggestions about what you might do at home.
Finally, take a close look at your own reaction: Could you be inadvertently reinforcing your daughter’s behavior by giving her extra attention when she seems upset? The next time she complains about preschool, try asking her to name two good things that happened that day. Then reward her with praise and attention. Over time, her attitude toward her classmates may improve.
However, if your child’s problems with making friends persist, consider speaking with her pediatrician or a mental health professional.
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.
Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more
insights to help you help your child succeed.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.