Parents work hard choosing friends during preschool. After all, we are the ones planning the game reunions.
Although associating in groups is not common in young children, it certainly does occur. And children who think and learn differently may be more sensitive in that regard than other children.
When children make friends and create groups of friends, it is usually with children of similar abilities. Children who are not yet as adept at playing ball or coloring may feel left out. Here are some of the ways you can help in those situations of social exclusion.
Take a look
- You may think that preschoolers are too young to form groups, but it does happen in children that age.
- Preschoolers tend to be friends with other children who have similar abilities.
- Children whose skills are not highly developed may feel left out.
Guide your child to a suitable group
The situation: The Dyspraxia your child does shy in the playground. Every day he sits in the sandbox near two children who never invite him to play.
What you can do: Watch the children. Does your child have the skills to play in the same way as other children? If so, practice at home ways your child can address children by role-playing.
But if they are playing at a level that seems advanced to your child, consider hanging out elsewhere. You may find it easier to interact with children your age in a library.
The Situation: In preschool, your child (who is hyperactive) sometimes gets overly excited playing with fire trucks. He screams like a siren and the friends leave.
What you can do: Role-play at home and show your child what happens when he gets too excited playing with fire trucks. Ask him if his behavior is causing the fun to end.
Then teach him ways to control his emotion: taking deep breaths, drinking some water, etc. Explain that if these strategies help him play without yelling, his friends won’t leave.
Help your child avoid triggers for certain behaviors
The Situation: In preschool, children are assigned tables for lunch, and at most tables, children play after lunch. But if your child does not have a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, he becomes enraged, and as a consequence, the children do not want to play with him.
What you can do: If your child is sensitive to certain foods, it is understandable that you want to broaden his palate, but choose the right place and time to work on his eating habits. If new foods trigger a tantrum, try it when you’re together. Give him what makes interaction with his peers easier.
Show him how to look for alternatives
The situation: At home, your child is the expert at playing Lego. But at school, there is a group of four children playing with Legos at a table and they do not give him space to join the group.
What you can do: Validate your child’s feeling of upset but help him resolve the situation and play with Lego without personalizing the situation. Could you ask the teacher to take turns? Is there room for a second table to play with Legos? What other activity does your child enjoy?
Your child’s socialization conflicts with groups and friends will likely change as he grows older.