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dd age 6 is struggling with friends

(36 Posts)
orangeandlemons Fri 08-Mar-13 13:39:00

I don't know what to do.

When dd started preschool, she kept saying that certain girls wouldn't play with her. eventually she swapped preschool and was very happy there. She was also very happy in reception.

However, in Year 1 she started getting left out, and saying no one wanted to play with her. We went up to school, and it was sort of sorted, but they were constant rumblings of discontent from dd.

Now in Year 2 and the same thing is happening again. She says no one plays with her at dinnertimes or playtime. I took her into school yesterday, lots of girls running up and saying hello to her...

Parents evening last night. Teacher says that dd seems to have become very withdrawn. 2 dinner ladies have commented to her, that dd was sat all alone on bench at dinner and playtime. DD has mentioned this to us, but we thought it might pass, although she has been upset about it. Teacher is now going to take action.

But this has been going on for 2 years, and I don't know what to do. Is it DD? Does she have problems? She was a very early and very prolific smiler and seems to have very good social skills, so I don't understand. She never gets invited to parties or playdates, unless we make the effort, but it is often not reciprocated.

A lot of the girls in her class seem to have parents who are very good friends and hey seem to spend a lot of time together with their kids, but I'm not sure this is all it is. It is a very large infant school, so there are lots of children to play with.

I was crying last night. All the evidence I can find, is that this marks kids for ages, and will continue to cause problems. I have asked teacher about HFA, although I am almost sure dd isn't.

lisylisylou Wed 27-Mar-13 11:15:49

Oh god it sounds like my ds all over again. My ds is the youngest in his year and I went through hell and back with him. They do settle please believe me. It sounds like your dd is trying to work out where she settles into school and this type of situation happened at year 1 for my ds.

The one thing I have found is lots of after school stuff and if that stereotypes me so be it. The most beneficial thing I have found taking him to acting/musical theatre. He also goes to jujitsu to learn how to defend himself and my dd goes to the same acting/musical theatre and goes to dance classes. I always remember my mum saying after I was telling her about how my ds hadn't been interacting at school with friends and she said "he needs more confidence". Even if your ds does have oodles of confidence the really good thing from after school activities like this is that they know they have friends elsewhere. They have alot of friends everywhere now and they still want to take up the after school football club now!!

Horribly my ds had been tied up to wooden fencing by other kids in the middle of the playground when he was in year 1. I remember crying through the night and then getting up at 3am to write a nasty letter to the school. The whole thing was awful but time heals and now I credit the musical theatre and jujitsu to getting him over the whole thing. He is so confident now and has plenty of friends.

marioncole Tue 26-Mar-13 16:28:40

My heart's aching about DS (5, in year 1) and this at the moment.

He seems to be more comfortable in a one-to-one friend situation and doesn't seem to join in with the big group of boys who play football at break time. Which is fine, until his one friend decides he wants to play football instead. So now DS has nobody to play with.

The boys seem to be defined by their interest in football. They all go to football club together in the holidays, at the weekends etc (it's only a small town). DS has zero interest in football, so he missed that extra-curricular interaction.

Interesting reading all the comments on this thread. We have a big waiting list for Beavers here, but I'm about to volunteer as a leader so that DS will jump the waiting list. I really think it's something that he will enjoy. I also don't do many play dates, partly because I work and DS goes to after-school club. I do work for myself though, so I could easily arrange playdates if I get myself organised. Must do more.

Tough isn't it.

NellyTheElephant Sun 24-Mar-13 12:33:32

It is uncanny how much your DD sounds exactly like mine. My DD had also always seemed fairly outgoing and sociable, but in year 1 she had real trouble fitting in. She had moved to a new school (we had moved house, but these problems had been evident in her reception class too before we moved) and initially seemed to settle v well - she was new and the novelty and the other girls and mothers worked hard to include her and invite on play dates etc but it all seemed to deteriorate and soon she seemed to be always left out. Not helped by fact she is also quite bossy and misinterpreted things, e.g. If she wanted to play one game and the others wanted to play a different game she interpreted that as the others not wanting to play with her whereas in fact they would have been very happy for her to play - just the game that they all wanted rather than the one she wanted. I found it all heart breaking to see her so sad and lonely. Her teacher was very helpful. Worked on ensuring that she was in a group before they went out into the playground (to avoid the lonely wandering around looking for someone). I talked to a few of the other mothers which was v helpful as once you start being open you will often find that they will open up about issues their children have too and then everyone becomes more helpful and sensitive to issues and encourages their children. We did regular playdates, which always went well on a one to one basis but didn't seem to change the school dynamic.

Really though none of these things mad a huge difference, what changed was her. I think in many ways she was socially underdeveloped. She found the forced expectation to 'play' hard. She actually wasn't very good at group playing(although fine on one to one basis), and didn't much enjoy it. I felt fairly despairing as she went into yr 3 with no real improvement, but then everything seemed to change. Yr 3 was a much more structured environment, which suited her. She was permitted to opt out of playing and go to the library at break times. That worried me hugely too as I thought that her isolation would become entrenched, but her teachers assured me that they monitored it closely and would intervene if necessary. In fact the opposite occurred. The break from having to try and join in and the sense that she had a haven to escape to seemed to relax her, and before I knew it other girls started joining her in the library and then it would progress to playing all together but she could retreat if it was all too much. She now has a lovely group of friends and is much more settled.

So what is my advice... Possibly she is socially behind the curve and needs time and space to develop and catch up. Keep up with one on one play dates, even if they dont appear to be helping at school, it does make a difference i think as it gives some connection to her peers. Try not to pressure her (innocuous questions such as 'who did you play with today' used to send my DD into a tail spin). See the form teacher regularly and ensure she is on board and encouraging - this really helps. Talk to other mothers about it if you can.

Timetoask Fri 22-Mar-13 14:57:32

Fridayalready: something I have started doing is arriving 15 minutes early to school every morning. There are always a few children playing. The idea is that with my support ds can start feeling more confident when seeing other children running around and joining them. The first couple of days he stood next to me (I did not force him to go off as I think that is counterproductive), towards the end of the week he was running off joining in, so it is worth trying.

Fridayalready Fri 22-Mar-13 14:43:04

I've just found this thread after searching to find some tips / ideas on exactly this issue. I have a gorgeous dd who is bright & clever at home, but just can't seem to cope with playtimes or any sort of unstructured time with her peers (parties etc). Last week was a real low point when she hadn't played with anyone all week at playtime. When another child asks her to play, she's fine & will go off & play (mostly, not always) but she always waits to be asked & then if she isn't, she just stands by herself. Last weekend we made a sticker/reward chart to encourage her to smile and say hello or to ask someone to play a game - this worked really well yesterday - fingers crossed it does again today. Btw, we started a drama club on Saturdays - seems to be quite good, but still doesn't solve the problem of how she copes alone in the playground. This isn't easy, is it?

MrsMushroom Wed 13-Mar-13 12:31:30

Thanks for the tip Lousmart, I LOVE our Brownies, the leader is a young woman but so dedicated and the atmosphere in there is SO supportive.

Lousmart Wed 13-Mar-13 12:04:50

Hi, I'm reading this thread with interest as my dd (just 6 and in year 1) is very similar. There is some brilliant advice here. Thanks.

Also, regarding the Brownies. As a brownie leader with a full pack and waiting list I am flattered to read the good things that are being said about brownies improving confidence. It's my biggest aim as a snowy owl.

There is a new part on the girl guiding website called 'join us' it allows parents to enter contact info and will come up with the closest packs for you, and beyond if you chose. The leader then receives a text or email prompting them to contact the enquirer. It really works! I'll see if I can post a link.

And thanks for this thread ladies, it's really helping me.

Polygon Sun 10-Mar-13 14:40:49

We had this when dd was 6 last year. In the end it helped to have plenty of playdates. I had not been having many and it turned out all the other kids were playing together an awful lot. In dd´s class, having a playdate is like being engaged - if you have a playdate that evening, you only play with the child who you are having the playdate with. I didn´t realise this but it ended up with dd being left out a lot because she had fewer playdates. Things got better when I arranged more (all at our house and not necessarily reciprocated - partly because dd was too shy to go back to their house).
I also kept talking to the teachers about it. I think that helped too - in the end the teacher gave dd a playtime "buddy" who was in Y5. That really helped her. Her buddy is wonderful - and she seemed to like the role of caring for a younger child. What may also have helped is that dd was quite "cool" for her classmates as she got to hang out with the big girls at playtime.

lottieandmia Sun 10-Mar-13 13:41:38

Sometimes bossy children are misunderstood and left out which is a shame but it can be a huge disadvantage - my dd often talked of one girl who was left out because she was bossy. I have a younger bossy child too and it is just in some children's nature I think. I agree that the best thing is to explain to her how bossiness can some across and help her to learn ways to tone it down without expecting her to change her personality.

MrsMushroom Sun 10-Mar-13 13:19:14

Have you spoken to her about being bossy? Role play can you play with her at home? I suggest that you try to play a lot of turn taking games and every time she's patient and non bossy, flatter her and use it as an example.

orangeandlemons Sun 10-Mar-13 13:05:36

She is bossy and likes to do things her way, which is I suspect at the bottom of it, but she also really kind and caring too sad

MrsMushroom Sun 10-Mar-13 12:57:28

So she's confident...but she's being excluded by the sound of it.

There could be one of two things going on here...or a mix of both.

One; she is being bullied by exclusion and Two she's perhaps not yet learned the unwritten social rules of she a team player? Does she mind losing or not always being in charge?

At 6 she's very young yet and they sometimes haven't learned how to play together well.

Have you seen her at play with others much? What are your impressions of her skills?

orangeandlemons Sun 10-Mar-13 12:29:45

She isn't shy really, she is quite confident. She seems really sociable when I take her to school, so I don't know what's going on. I don't think she is particularly assertive, and this I think is the issue, but she is neither shy nor quiet, but she is one of the youngest in the class. There a 30 kids in her class, and 4 other classes in her year

MrsMushroom Sun 10-Mar-13 12:24:36

Yes I do...I think most of them grow out of it to some extent although some are simply naturally introverted which is fine.

A small minority have social trouble because of special needs such as Autism spectrum disorders or hearing trouble....(and lots more reasons) but the vast majority are simply young or shy/quiet.

There are a small percentage of kids who find socialising easy...but they are a minority imo.

If your DD is shy and quiet, is drama the best choice for her? These groups are often full of extroverted kids...I've taught at them...there are usually a small amount of shy kids who are brought along to help them come out of themselves...I'm always wary of these types of groups for shy kids.

I think they can do better in Brownies but as you say there's a long waiting list...have you tried to see if there is a pack which is a bit further from home?

My DD isn't in our local one...she goes to another which is not as busy.

lottieandmia Sun 10-Mar-13 12:24:25

Girls can be awful for leaving each other out. And it seems to get worse as they get older ime! I have a dd in year 4 and she has had various issues at one time or another and I find that they tend to blow over. I remember that reception is a nice year because everyone does play together and nobody gets left out. It is awful when you feel your child is suffering at school. How many children are in her class?

orangeandlemons Sun 10-Mar-13 12:19:26

Mrs Mushroom, That's a good point about talking to other mums. However I didn't realise there would be that number struggling socially. Is it something they grow out of do you reckon?

MrsMushroom Sun 10-Mar-13 11:23:53

It is important to talk to other parents too....I was very open about my DDs struggle and was amazed by how accomodating and kind other mums were, many made sure to include DD in things...trips to park and playdates. I try to emulate this with my younger, more confident DD and encourage her to look out for the shyer kids in her class.

I've explained that "X may not talk much but it does not mean she doesn't want to play with you and the others, please make sure that sometimes you ask her if she'd like to play too."

My Mum said it wasn't fair on carry the weight of responsibility for other DC...but that's wrong imo. A community...a school...depends on the members all pulling together and helping fill the gaps.

MrsMushroom Sun 10-Mar-13 11:20:47

Ask your children's teachers which other DC are struggling socially....I promise you that in an average class of 30 4 and 5 year old's there will be around 10 of them

Then arrange playdates....not loads....just one every few weeks. A trip to the park straight after school is a good one pressure for anyone concerned and I bring snacks like muffins or something....the DC feel like they're on a treat then and can forge little unions.

TreadOnTheCracks Sun 10-Mar-13 01:12:39

Liverpoolone heart breaking isn't it. Try the how to be a friend book recommended upthread. It's worth the money (I'm not on commission promise).

theliverpoolone Sat 09-Mar-13 20:02:24

Really helpful to read this thread, as we're also going through this. My dd (5) struggled a lot in Reception and spent many playtimes alone as she doesn't have the confidence to join in. I thought things were improving now we're in Yr1 as she buddied up with one particular girl, but this girl 'doesn't let her' (dd's words) play with other children, but then if the girl is off school or decides to play with someone else, my dd is left by herself, which has happened a lot over the last couple of weeks sad. I keep trying to talk to dd about how they don't just have to play in pairs (seems quite common in girls?), or about how to initiate joining in, but she gets very evasive and obviously doesn't want to talk about it with me. As someone else said, I wish I could wave a magic wand for her.

MrsMushroom Sat 09-Mar-13 18:37:22

Tread I know...that teacher was young and very energetic and I'll never forget what she did for DD. She REALLY cared in a genuine way about all the children...she cried one day when she was telling me in private that another child in the class was seriously ill.

orangeandlemons Sat 09-Mar-13 10:27:50

Thanks for help guys. Will be buying that book. I have tried so hard to get her into Brownies, but the waiting lists are ridiculous. Have decided to enrol her in a drama/singing/ group on Saturday afternoon too to help build her confidence and make new friendships. It seems to be a situation which is purely school related. They are going into Junior school next year, so hopefully they may mix up the classes a bit.

TreadOnTheCracks Sat 09-Mar-13 09:15:14

Mrs Mushroom - that's a lovely story. I'm a lunchtime controller and I'm pinching that idea!

MrsMushroom Sat 09-Mar-13 00:26:38

My Dd had this aged 7...but she never complained to me, her teacher told me. DD was being asked to join in games, but would not.

It seemed to be a crisis of confidence and the teacher was a marvel.

She instigated a new routine at playtime....dressed up as a learning experience...which it was. It was that she would organise old fashioned circle games, the DC could join in or not as they chose but of course they all chose to...then she handed "games cards" to a different child each day...these cards were a list of the games and the rules, the games master then had to allocate roles to the other children...and explain the rules.

The teacher made my DD be games master a lot! And a few other quieter children too.

The DC loved it and it really helped DD. She was then actively joining in...because the teacher had basically told her to! I 2nd has massively helped DD. She's still quiet but she has friends and now mentions certain girls who I think she is starting to form bonds with.

TreadOnTheCracks Fri 08-Mar-13 21:10:31

I have the unwritten rules of friendship too, but haven't managed to read it yet sometimes i think just having the book on my shelf will help

DD went through a bit of this, she is year 3 now and it seems to have calmed down, although she still occasionally says she had no one to play with.

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