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self-help strategies for a lonely 7 year old please

(9 Posts)
TAtops Fri 14-Oct-11 00:06:15

Hoping for some inspiration as to what I can say to comfort and help DD1 (7) who regularly reports that she couldn't find anyone to play with at school so just walked around the playground by herself til break was over. I'm not sure which I find most heartbreaking - the days when she cries about this or the days she shrugs and says with such seeming acceptance that she's just not a kid that other kids like very much.

In truth, she's very outgoing and often charms adults to bits, but has always struggled a bit with other kids. Teachers have reported she seems to choose to do her own thing more often than most, whereas others are a bit more inclined to go along with the group so they can do things with their friends. This was OK when she was younger and she just floated between people, but everyone seems to be settling into little groups or best friend pairs now and DD1 is outside of all that.

I have tried inviting other girls home for tea after school, but although those seem to go OK, we either get one return invite or none and then DD1 reports she's fallen out with that girl now. I'm happy to try inviting every girl in her class (one at a time!) but don't want her to become known as Little Miss Desperate.

We have Parents Evening coming up so I can try to get some feedback from her teacher too, but if that's the same as previously (above) I'm not sure what to do with this. Any ideas anyone?

Growlithe Fri 14-Oct-11 00:18:51

Does she do any activities such as dance, Brownies etc that is after school, and involves omeone else from the class? If not, could you get her to start one? If so, could you invite one on a regular basis to come for tea before the activity, maybe doing a deal with other parents to pick both yours afterwards and drop off? I think you need to have a more targeted approach on playdates, to get her to get to know one or two children on a regular basis outside the school setting. HTH

TAtops Fri 14-Oct-11 00:27:52

Thanks. She does Brownies but it covers 3 diff schools and no one else from DD1's school in her group. There are some others from her school at her drama class, though, so we could try to do do something there maybe. Timing's awkward for reasons I won't bore everyone with, but the targetted approach sounds good. I can work with that principle, I'm sure.

snailoon Fri 14-Oct-11 00:33:18

Does the school have a place to stand when you want to find a friend? Our school, and many others, have this, and it seems to help.

I would ask the teacher if there is another child who would get on with your daughter, and then try really hard to help the friendship begin. You can still do this when they are 7, if you are lucky enough to find the right child.

You can make a visit fun for the other child. Do a special activity like making a den, building a fire and cooking popcorn on it, letting them make their own pizzas, finding some great dressing up clothes, painting a giant cardboard box and cutting a door and windows in it so they have a "house", etc, etc. When the mother comes over, tell her how delightful her child is and how much fun they had (if this is true); maybe the mum will have a quick cup of tea and if she is nice and friendly maybe you can ask about her daughter's friendship circle and possibly chat a little about your concerns for your daughter. Keep asking her back to your house if you are sure the girls are having fun; don't wait for a return invite because some people just don't bother. You will be able to tell if your invitations are unwelcome and you can try another child.

In my experience, it takes a concerted effort to help your child make a friend when friendship groups are already established. People are very lazy about including kids they aren't used to inviting over.

Maybe if you see your daughter in more social situations you may figure out what causes her to fall out with friends, and you may be able to help.
You don't need to wait for parents' evening to ask for the teacher's help. If your daughter has cried about this, ask today after school; there are always parents having quick informal chats with teachers at the end of the day.

Good luck. Your daughter sounds lovely.

TAtops Fri 14-Oct-11 16:21:19

Thanks, Snailoon. Think you've probably given me the push I need. Suspect I may have been projecting my own anxieties about not seeming too desperate onto DD. Missed the chat opportunity today after school but Parents evening is Monday actually so not long to wait now to get some suggestions from teacher.

Growlithe Fri 14-Oct-11 19:37:29

That's a good point Snailoon, talking about the issue with some of the other mums and enlist their help. I can't imagine many mums who wouldn't want to help in this situation. It's not too late at 7 either, my DD is 7 and was one of a 'three' where the other two were best friends. It was a little awkward but only this term two other girls have joined this group. Wishing you lots of luck, and at the end of the day I'd rather have a girl who will do what she wants to do rather than follow a crowd, so its important not to suppress this either.

rabbitstew Fri 14-Oct-11 20:48:28

It's not my experience that other mothers have the remotest interest in helping in such a situation.

Growlithe Fri 14-Oct-11 21:27:21

Rabbitstew, that is heartbreaking! If parents haven't got a bit of empathy how can we expect the children to? I suppose it reenforces what I said about the OPs DD, at least she will do what she wants and not follow the crowd, and good on her!

TAtops Fri 14-Oct-11 22:49:25

Thanks so much for these responses. I really feel I can see a way forward now. There are a couple of friendships which DD had at one stage which seemed to fade away when other groups formed but I'm going to get back in there to try to get those going again - largely because I established a bit of a connection with the other mums so feel able to enlist their help as suggested. Felt able to look DD in the eye tonight and tell her we're going to work this out together. It had been another bad day, it turns out, but she's sharing that at least. And I appreciate others seeing that independence of spirit is to be valued. I do too.

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