The Difficulty In Making Friends At School
A few weeks we had our daughter’s parents evening at school. A short appointment to let us know how she is getting on in year 1. I always feel a little nervous about these things. I’m confident in her academic ability and I know she isn’t a trouble maker but like most mums I do worry about how she feels, if she has friends and if she is happy at school.
To most, she is a confident and chatty little girl. She started at nursery at 10 months old, we’ve been to toddler groups and had regular outings with friends and their children and she also went to preschool. It’s safe to say she’s been ‘socialised’. Although it seemed there shouldn’t be an issue with making friends I still worried. She’s my baby girl and I know how sensitive she really is.
I’ve always tried to ensure she understands the importance of being inclusive. When she started reception she did tell me she was worried about making friends and I explained that most of the children probably felt the same. I advised her to be considerate of anyone looking lonely, to ask them to play, to involve them. I know she listened as she would tell me that someone in her class looked lonely and she went to play with them. Sometimes they wanted to play and sometimes they didn’t but she asked all the same.
At the parents evening in reception we were told she was a ‘mingler’ rather than someone who has made a strong attachment to another child. We were reassured that this was normal for her age and most of the class were the same.
Roll on parents evening Year 1 and whilst she is performing way ahead of what is expected academically across all subjects we were told that sometimes she spends break times on her own. This broke my heart. My little girl was lonely, just as I had feared.
Now forgive me but I spent the following days feeling a very bitter. This was the little girl that has been so considerate to others and asked others to join in if they looked lonely and now she is being left out. We were told that sometimes she does play with others but it is usually the children from year 5 and 6. So what should I do? Do I tell her to look out for number 1? Do I tell her to be strong and stand up for herself? I don’t know, I just want her to be happy.
She already goes to a drama class that teaches confidence with speaking and expressing emotions, the class has children from the age of 5 up to 13 and she loves it. She seems to find older children easier to approach and get on with. But not teenage boys because they are ‘silly’ she tells me!
As anyone knows getting information from kids about their school day is like getting blood from a stone. I can’t figure out whether she just doesn’t have an interest in playing with the children from her class or if she is shy. How do I dig into the problem – if it is in fact a problem, without making it a big issue. I just want her to be happy and confident in herself.
I go through days wondering if it’s my fault. Did I do or say something to make her doubt herself. Have I not inspired her to be confident? Have I been so focused on teaching her to be considerate of others that she forgets to consider herself?
For now all I can do is try and build her self esteem and show her my love.
Update: The weeks that followed the teachers on playground duty made an effort to help usher her to join in with the other children. I try not to ask too many questions but I always ask her about her day and what she did. She has spoken about games she’s played with people in her class and overall seem happy with school.
I love this TED Talk on how we can help our daughters to take risks and help them be confident. We are adventurous as a family but on reflection I think I do caution her too often.
Have your children ever had problems making friends? How do you build their confidence?