Some children make friends really easily, while others find it takes a bit more time. N is definitely one of the latter group, mainly because he likes to observe and understand people before letting them in or approaching them. Once he likes them though, he’ll chatter away like anything.
I’ve mentioned before about my concern that N was only ever playing with his best friend at school. But he is now spreading his wings a little and does mention other children that he works with or might play with.
What’s amusing at this age is recognising how straight thinking and literal children can be. If N’s playing one game, and a child he wants to play with is playing something else, there’s no way he would ask the other child to play or invite them over. His thinking would be ‘he/she doesn’t want to play with me because they like doing xyz’, and he might never try and play with them. If he’s playing one thing, that’s it, he doesn’t see that he could play with them if he did a bit of negotiating, changing what he’s doing or proposing something else. With adults there’s a lot more adapting and going with the flow.
Now we’re mostly out of the friends are friends of parents stage, it’s hard remembering that children are capable and should be allowed to choose their own friends. Especially if there’s a new child thrown into the mix.
We’ve a new neighbour moved in down the road, and the little boy is now in N’s class at school. We live in the middle of nowhere so it’s good to know that N’s got other similar age children within a mile or so – when he’s older if they’re still all friends, I can see him walking or cycling over to visit them and play.
Over Christmas I suggested that the OH see if they wanted to organise a playdate – it would have been nice for the boy to have met someone in his class before starting, but the OH didn’t sort anything out.
That first week we suggested that N should invite the little boy into his games and introduce himself etc. The usual things that adults would usually do but N is oblivious to. The OH would ask each evening ‘have you played with G today?’. Sometimes it was a yes, sometimes a no. According to N he did say hi and introduce himself, but I don’t know the circumstances.
But I sometimes felt like we were pushing N into something that he might not have wanted to do. We obviously just want a neighbour to feel welcome, and for N to act like a nice welcoming boy, and hope that they might end up friends. But school’s about children letting go and finding their own way and finding their own friends.
So I’ve tried to just keep my questions general. Who did you play with today? Who’s in your group? What games did you play and work did you do?
While I still want N to make friends with my friends’ children, I also want to give him the space to make his own choices about friends especially with those he’ll be moving through the school with.
How are your children at making friends? How do you encourage without pushing them?
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