How to Help Your Preschooler Make Friends

Every child loves to play, but cooperative play can come less naturally. It is a key component in learning to navigate the social world, however, and an important part of establishing a sense of self. Making a friend is of course also special in its own right–here’s how to help your child turn peers into pals.

Little friends!

Dr. Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, professor, early learning researcher, and advocate for preschool social engineering, explains that your child will want to make friends with those with whom they share some common ground–like adults:

“They’ll like the kids that have the toys they like and play the games they want to play.”

Obviously, this necessitates good play etiquette; your child should understand how to share, and take turns. If this is set, you can help your tot along by doing some research. Dr. Kathryn provides some tips:

  • Ask the class teacher for the names of the children, and include the names in conversation with your child, asking pointed questions about individuals and what each of them likes. In this way, you can identify–or help your child identify–which of her peers has shared interests.
  • Get social yourself by setting up playdates based on what your preschooler says about her classmates.
  • Understand that preschool friendships are changeable; young ones barely know themselves! So don’t get stressed over establishing a social circle for your child–anxiety is also the last thing you want her to associate with making friends; keep things casual, and fun.

If you’ve implemented the above strategies and are still concerned, speak to the class teacher to determine if there is either an issue that can be addressed with a professional–or if you are in fact worrying about a non-existent problem (some kids play better when parents aren’t hovering).

“The important thing is to help your child have the tools he or she needs,” Hirsh-Pasek says. “And try not to take too much of this too seriously. Because tomorrow the chances are really high it’s going to turn around and change yet again.”

Via fatherly