How can I help my child make friends?
Friendships are a crucial part of social emotional health, but as always, it’s important to have realistic expectations for our children.
It’s not until kids are between 18-24 months that they start to play with others. Even still, it is mostly playing alongside other children, not with them. Children really begin to play with each other around age three--and this is a complex social landscape. They have to cooperate, compromise, negotiate, and empathize in order to play together...which is a huge task! These are skills that need to be modeled, taught, and practiced. You are your child’s first playmate, so when you’re playing at home, practice taking turns: roll a ball back and forth, take turns flipping the pages of a book, and point out whose turn it is. It is also okay to let your child lose at a game. Use this as a learning opportunity and help him deal with the frustration of losing.
As your preschooler gets older, you will have to help him navigate friendships, but let him try to work out problems on his own. If two preschoolers start to fight while playing, give them a chance to resolve it themselves before jumping to intervene. Keep your expectations low for playdates and don’t force kids to play together if they are content to play separately. Friendship is a skill that takes a lot of time to develop--help your child by giving him plenty of opportunities to play with others. Go to library story times, join playgroups, and meet up with other parents with kids his age. The more opportunities you give him to socialize, the better he will become at friendships.
If you’d like to talk to one of our care coordinators, please call our parenting phone line at 844.456.5437.
- Social Emotional