Maudlin and Associates ™
Karen Maudlin
Psy.D., CPCC
Kenneth Davison
Cindy Takiguchi
Manette Galván Turner
Robert Gregory
Daniel Doebler
Trevor Simpson

I've noticed that my 4-year old has difficulty making friends at preschool. She seems to stay on the margins of games rather than plunging in. How can I help?

A.Once children reach school age, their peer interaction happens mainly in large groups. That can be overwhelming to a child. Breaking down social interactions into smaller play dates will reduce your daughter's stress while helping her practice her developing social skills.

Schedule short (1-2 hours) one-on-one play dates with children your daughter is more comfortable with. If she doesn't seem to connect with anyone, choose a child whose mom you trust to help you create a relaxed play date. Help your daughter think of activities she can do during her play date. This gives her a game plan and takes some of the unknown out of her time with a friend.

Role-play simple conversation starters that your daughter can use to join in. For example: "My name is Hannah" "Can I play with you?" "May I take a turn at that when you're done?" "Do you want to do this puzzle together?"

Pray with your child before any peer interaction. Ask God to help your child be brave and confident as she makes new friends. The time you spend helping her through this phase will pay off as she continues to face new groups of peers, new situations, and new challenges.