Making Friends in Early Childhood

pediatricians of the Hudson Valley on making friends in early childhood

Before your children start going to daycare or preschool, as parents you can generally control who your kids spend time with. When they start going to school, however, parents can become nervous about the other kids they are interacting with and learning from. Short of video surveillance or constantly calling their caretaker or educator, parents don’t know how they are socializing with other children day to day. This can make many parents nervous, as new personalities are influencing your child for the first time.

Friendships for Outgoing Kids      

Extroverted kids can make friends naturally and enjoy being in a classroom setting. Because of this, they may learn behaviors from other kids that you as a parent would not allow. At a young age, it’s important to talk to your children about who your kids are forming friendships with and help them identify behaviors that are unacceptable, instead of punishing them for the behavior outright. If your outgoing child describes behavior you would not approve of when you are not around, try having a conversation about how friends are supposed to make you feel good.

Shy Kids

Shy kids often experience separation anxiety from parents when they first start going to school or daycare. Shy children crave friendship and connection like other children, but just have more trouble asking other kids to play. If you notice this behavior in your child, talk to their caretaker or teacher and ask them to keep an eye out for them to encourage interaction with other kids. As a parent, you can encourage your child by setting up playdates, as well as spending time with other kids at a park, museum, and more.

Concerns about bullying

Kids are constantly testing out relationships and learning how to treat others, in addition to how they’d like to be treated. Sometimes, this leads to situations where kids put others down to feel accepted by a larger “in-group.” Whether your child is the victim of a bully, or your child is the bully, this behavior is not to be tolerated and it is the responsibility of the parents and caretakers to clarify acceptable behavior. As a parent, model respectful behavior and explain how their actions can affect others’ feelings. Talk to a school counselor, educator or caretaker as well as your pediatrician in any event.

Though you can’t be there to hold their hand the whole time, you as a parent can set your child up for success in social situations. Talk to your pediatrician for more information if your child exhibits behavioral problems. Handling these issues early on can be the best time to intervene.

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