Just as all children learn to read and write at their own pace, some will settle in at school and make friends more quickly than others. And you can’t always second guess how your child will react. Sometimes a really sociable and confident child can become very nervous in a new setting, while a more shy child may suddenly come into their own.
Don’t worry. Whether they’re a bit clingy, or can barely stay with you long enough for a goodbye kiss – it’s all normal and completely fine.
How you can help
There are some things you can do to help your child settle in and make friends.
- Arrange a few play-dates with other children that will be in the same class as your child. The classroom will feel more comfortable if there are a few familiar faces around.
- Let them know that if they’re kind and play ‘nicely’, other children will be more likely to want to play with them. You could demonstrate this through role-play with their toys.
- If they have brothers or sisters, get them to practise sharing and being polite to each other, using phrases like "can I join in?" or "can we share that?", and not forgetting "please" and "thank you".
- Don’t be surprised if you hear one name a lot for a few weeks, then all of a sudden a new ‘best friend’ pops up out of the blue. When it comes to friendships, children can be fickle!
- Sometimes children make friends with kids you’re not so keen on. Try not to interfere or manipulate their friendships unless their behaviour changes or they tell you something that concerns you – in which case speak to your child’s teacher (it’s best not to discuss problems with other children with their parents).
- Be a good role model. If your child sees you making friends and talking to other parents, they’ll do the same.