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DD is struggling to make friends

14 replies

Prufrock · 06/10/2008 14:02

This is going to be long and complicated, and anyone who gets through it and feels like this is more my problem than dd's is probably correct, but please still be sympathetic and helpful if you can.

DD is now in Y2, and doesn't really have any friends at school. Her best friend is my friend's son, whom she has known since birth (our dh's have been best mates since they were 4) However this boy had to move schools last year as dd's school badly mishandled his SEN. I think her closeness to him did lead to her being slightly apart from the rest of her class last year - nobody else wanted to play with A, and the school were so crap at helping him to integrate with the other children that practically left dd to look after him at breaktimes. DD has found it very difficult to make other friends at school -she is not a particularly girly girl and there is only one other non girly girl in her class (B). She does like B, and plays well with her, but B has huge amounts of confidence and plays with the boys as well, which leaves dd feeling left out. She doesn't like playing with the boys, because they are all quite forceful characters, and she can't seem to cope with that. Recent incidents have been when she came home and said she'd played football with the boys and B - I asked if she'd scored any goals and she said no, but she had kicked the ball once. That was all because nobody wanted to pass it to her. Then last week I picked her up from afterschool football to find she wasn't wearing the Chelsea shirt dh had bought her, because the boys in her group had said that Chelsea were rubbish. And yesterday she went to a party and spent the entire time sitting on the sidelines. When I went to pick her up, 19 kids were sat around a table eating and having fun, and dd was at the other end of the hall with her plate and cup. She told me it was because she didn't want to talk to anyone, she just wanted to be by herself. And she regularly comes home saying that she just sat by herself at lunchtime, because even her brother (just started reception and v. outgoing) didn't want to play with her.
How can I help her to be more sociable? We do activities and playdates after school, and I am friends with most of the other mothers. She gets invited to most parties, and has never made a fuss about going to school, or being left, though she won't leave my side in the playground until it's time to line up. I've asked her teacher, who says she's fine, just a bit quiet. But tbh as the teacher told me the other day that dd had been playing nicely with B and at breaktime, I don't have much faith in her ability to actually notice dd's mood.

Am I worrying about nothing - I realise I'm projecting here, as I was always the kid with no mates at school. My best friend was the school librarian! I desperately don't want dd's childhood to be as miserable as mine was, but recognise that I might be creating a problem and that she may actually be perfectly happy as a loner. But then I know that I never told anyone how miserable I was.

Please help - I just want to be able to make my dd happy, and it's killing me that I can't make everything perfect for her. I know I can't helicopter parent her forever, and do usually keep my pushy, perfectionist side well under control, but it's becoming very hard.

OP posts:
Marina · 06/10/2008 17:46

Well, when I got to the bit about implying that being friends with the school librarian was a loser situation...
Look, things change a lot in Yr2 IME. It is in this year that friendships mature and become more reasoned and more genuinely founded on mutual affection and shared interests. All is not lost - ds' best friend from Yr 2 on barely spoke to him prior to that.
I was friendless too at primary school, and yes, there were times when that made me a bit sad, but by Year 3-4 I had realised that it wasn't so bad because I really didn't like anyone in my year that much.
So I think you have to listen to your dd, make her feel able to tell you how she feels about school and other children, and just let her be herself. If you ever get the sense she is being rebuffed or excluded, rather than amicably being left to do her own thing, that will be the time to actively take it up with the school.
I find Playground Supervisors well worth getting to know in this situation btw. They always seem to know a lot more than the teacher!

motherinferior · 06/10/2008 17:54

Oh honey, I am so sorry. I too didn't have friends at primary school, and I can see why this worries you.

I agree about Y2 being a maturing stage - DD1 actually dropped a quite horrid girl who'd been her best mate before, hugely to my relief (said child was a brat and a bully, including to DD1). They do become quite, well, human at this stage . And therefore better at genuine friendship stuff.

ahundredtimes · 06/10/2008 18:11

Oh god it's so hard isn't it?

I do agree with others that say it does happen. DS2 used to wander around the playground on his own, and it broke my heart. He told me he didn't like any of them, which I dismissed, because who doesn't like anyone in a class of children?

In Y3 he made friends with some new children, and is now v. happy socially. So perhaps he was right!

I do think it is a fine line between understanding how they feel and supporting that, and urging them towards sociability. Only because it is a life skill worth having, I suppose.

Perhaps she's shy, or perhaps she really just doesn't like any of them. Don't give up though. I used to think that once you were on the outside you would always be, but I don't that is true. I've noticed that children are much more fluid about this sort of thing than adults.

I know it's hard, but I do REALLY agree with others about it being an age thing too.

moonshine · 06/10/2008 18:21

Well yes it could be an age thing but maybe she is just a natural loner - some of us are you know . I think my dd is very similar, although she is crippingly shy as well (has just admitted to it in yr 3). I used to worry about her as she had one good friend to whom she used to cling but if that friend deigned not to play with her, then she got left alone. She does now occasionally play with others but I think fundamentally she is, like me, someone who does not need to be so socially active in life (and if only I had accepted that earlier it would have saved me a lot of heartache).

I agree that if she seems basically content with the situation then she is fine. She will probably have a small number of close and true friends and will find more than enough emotional solace through them.

motherinferior · 06/10/2008 18:23

Or she could of course end up like me - quite pathologically sociable and reasonably well-endowed in the friend department.

Twiglett · 06/10/2008 18:27

there's a book that is recommended on MN that I'll find in a tic and post for you

but I have to say the football thing sounds pretty standard to me for playground play

Twiglett · 06/10/2008 18:30

this book

it is tough wanting your child to be sociable and allowing them to be themselves at the same time

the football thing sounds like normal peer play and I think you should focus on the fact that 'wow she played footie with the boys and B' rather than she kicked the ball once .. honestly today I was having a conversation with DS (year 3) who said that O has said he can't be goalie any more because he's rubbish and O is trying out other people .. O is Captain .. don't know who the hell made him captain or why they're so happy to be bossed around by him

my gut reaction is to go "O play well and everyone can play" but you just have to let them do it themselves [sighs]

ahundredtimes · 06/10/2008 18:37

I also wouldn't ask too many questions. Sometimes their take is different. Though I feel your pain at the picking up at the party thing.

That book is good. Was recommended to me - as I have fits of this but with ds1 [sociable family aren't we?] - and it was good helpful for me actually. It gives some perspective.

dinny · 06/10/2008 18:42

Prufrock, you could almost be me posted about my dd (also year 2)

her best friend (since school nursery) left at Oct half term of reception and her other friend left at Christmas, and she's never really recovered in a way (I mean socially)

she isn't unhappy but equally doesn't love school - I get so upset when I see all the others in her year run in/hugging each other/chattering etc. dd just holds my hand till it's time to line up. she occasionally gets invited to tea/invites others to tea/some birthdays. I made much more of an effort in reception and year 1 to engineer things for her, but have stopped now as I don't think she really likes anyone that much in her year!!

it's an awful feeling, I just wanted to say I know how you feel. I've thought a few times that dd has been deliberately excluded by one girl in particular, and have addressed that I think, but other than that I don't see what more I/you can do to help. she is a very quietly confident person, and quite choosy with her friends, I suppose

interestingly, she is also a tomboy and plays footie!

Orinoco · 06/10/2008 19:14

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DwayneDibbley · 06/10/2008 20:09

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Prufrock · 06/10/2008 20:28

Thank you - you see I knew there was a reason I liked this place.

I've been on an Amazon splurge and bought that book, and others Twig - and I am a bitmore relaxed about it now - she came home from school quite happy today (B's other main friend was off so dd had had her to herself) And we've rehearsed what she's going to say if anyone questions why she is wearing a Chelsea shirt (she's the only one that does, whilst lots support Liverpool - strange as we are in Cambridge!) and dh is taking her to a real premiership match in a couple of weeks, so hopefully that will give her some confidence at football club.

I think part of my problem is that I'm reliving it, and also that this is the first parenting thing that I haven't been able to fix. I'm incredibly insecure about my abilities to do pretty much everything else, but I have always before been confident in my ability as a parent. And now I'm not.

OP posts:
DwayneDibbley · 06/10/2008 21:04

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DwayneDibbley · 06/10/2008 21:05

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