teaching kids how to make friends - Bubbablue and me

A challenge – name calling and VIP

So far, so good at school.

At least I think so.  8 days in I’m still to work out whether he’s actually sat down at all apart from one picture.  He told me he’s done no numbers or counting and no letters.

The reception age children are given a buddy from year 2.  He tells me he knows the name of his best friend’s buddy, and he knows a couple of the other buddies and who they’re paired with..  But he doesn’t know his own buddy’s name.  It’s a girl, so I can check with his cousin who’s year 2 and might know.

But we have had a bit of a challenge already.

teaching kids how to make friends - Bubbablue and me

N tells me he’s only playing with his best friend he knew from before.  While it’s great that they’re such good friends, and he knows a few of the other children, I’d like him to be able to play with others, making friends with others in the class as well otherwise if they get split up in year 1, they’ll be distraught.

N does early morning ‘breakfast’ club 3 days a week, going in early for supervised play, along with various other children.  Most are from older years, but so far there’s been 3 of them from reception going in.  N’s happy enough to be left, although I don’t think he says much to anyone…apart from telling the teacher there that he likes ‘reading’.  I hope she’s not taking him literally, what he means is he likes books, he can’t read anything yet.

But the first day there was a little girl from his class who was crying for her mummy.  She’s new to the area, doesn’t know anyone else at the school, and it’s obviously a scary place if you’re not used to people in it, or if you’ve not been to a nursery in the area to get you settled in easier.  After school that day, N told me she was being a baby because she was crying.  I had to explain that she’s not a baby, she’s just upset because she doesn’t know anyone yet and it’s all new for her.  I also suggested that he talk to her and make friends. That didn’t go down well.

The next morning she wasn’t crying when I dropped N off, and was eating her breakfast/snack to the side with another child.  I didn’t think much of it.  Until I spoke to my friend, the mum of N’s best friend.

It turns out that one morning when they were waiting to be let into the classroom, the little girl was still crying.  N and his friend were teasing her about missing her mummy and crying.  I couldn’t believe it and neither couldn’t N’s friend’s dad who was with them. They were told off at the time.

N’s going through a name calling phase at the moment and I hate it. He calls me names, his friend names and anyone else.  With ‘smelly’ something being the usual name.  I was not pleased to hear it.  So I picked him up from nursery and asked him about it in the car when we got home.

‘I didn’t mummy’.  I know he did because the father wouldn’t have any point in lying. After the denial came the

‘We were tricking’.  Not acceptable, but I know where that’s come from. His dad and uncle are always teasing and joking around towards each other, Grampy and the kids.  So no wonder he thinks it’s ok to tease people.

How did I solve it?

1,  The time.

As soon as I heard about it, I had to mention it while it was fresh in my mind.  N’s memory is useless, he can’t remember things from 5 minutes before, but it wasn’t so long ago that he couldn’t remember it. At least he agreed he knew what I was talking about.

2,  The location.

Okay, so the car isn’t the best for a face to face talk, but N was still strapped in, and there was no escaping from me. Usually when I tell him off, he just hides his face and won’t look at me, but this way was a proper discussion and he listened and answered my questions.

3, The talk.

N’s only 4, has a memory like a sieve and is going through a phase where he thinks it’s ok to name call. Put him with a friend and it’s bound to be doubly worse, even though at their age they probably don’t mean it, but are trying to tease rather than be nasty.  But I know from previous nursery reports that he would show empathy towards children that were upset, and give out hugs, and check they were ok.

I told him (again) that people don’t like to be called names.  That it hurts them and makes them feel bad.

I said that people can be really upset in new environments, especially when they don’t know anyone, and reiterate that he was lucky knowing so many children in his class and in the school.

I explained that upset children would want comfort and that I knew he used to be able to do that.  That all it might take is a hug and asking if they’re ok.

And I made sure he understood that he needs to make friends with other children, not just closing other children off from him and his friend.

My main ask was that he thought about specifically the little girl, but also other children in his class that he didn’t know.  Many of them don’t have old friends there because they’re not from the village or the nursery.  I explained that it’s nice and friendly to ask people to play with him and let them into his games.  Also to ask if he can play with them.

I helped him understand what it took to make friends.  In the past I don’t think he’s had to specifically go out and make friends, because quite often they have tended to gravitate towards him, but I want him to know how to make the first step and approach to making friends and getting to know people.  I told him he just needed to go up to someone, especially if they’re on their own and tell them his name, ask theirs, and ask if they wanted to play.

N thought about this. ‘Mummy, that’s really hard for me to do. I don’t think I can do that’.

‘Yes you can. It just takes practice and trying it. You can try it on me’.

‘It’s too hard’.

‘How about you just try and say hello to someone new tomorrow?’. A mumbled yes.

Talk over for that moment, although we did mention it again at bedtime.  Just a reminder of what we’d talked about, how important it was to be nice and kind to people, check they’re ok.

This morning thankfully it seemed to have worked.  A quick reminder on the walk to the playground, he agreed he’d try and meet someone new today.  Then the little girl was in the playground as we arrived.

‘N, shall we go and say hello to C?’. I took him over.  I knew he probably wouldn’t say anything, but thought I’d set an example and show how it could be done.

‘Hello C. Are you enjoying things a bit more at school now?’. A yes. ‘Good, I’m glad to hear that.  Have you met N?’. Another yes.

Then our neighbour’s daughter came along and stood with us and started joking around with N as they do.  I left them to it, and hoped that he’d have learnt a lesson and would make more effort.  When I picked him up, the discussion seemed to have done the trick.  His friend’s dad said that whatever I’d said had worked, because the 2 boys and the little girl were playing in the playground together before going into class.  Such a relief that hopefully that challenge is behind us, and pleased that N took it on board. Now I’ll reinforce the speaking to new people occasionally and N might make some friends across his class.

The shameful look - school uniform

What also made me chuffed was seeing N come out of school today with a VIP sticker.  I’ve no idea what he got it for (he couldn’t remember!), but it meant he could sit at the special VIP table at lunch along with the 1 VIP from every year and presumably a teacher or the head? No idea, although he seemed to like it sitting on the special table.

Although, N kept calling it the IP table which is confusing me and wondering what on earth the internet’s got to do with a special lunch table. EDIT: It turns out it’s for living the school rules and values, and working within the classroom appropriately. His teacher told me this morning that he was working really well and behaving well in the classroom, so I’m very chuffed with him for that.

So it’s been an eventful week, and we’ve even managed to find the 2 coats, 2 jumpers, water bottle that he’d left there, and return 2 books, and some play money that had come home.

What’s been happening at school or nursery with your children?  Have you had similar issues to deal with?

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  1. Ahh I think you handled that very well and I will take notes as I am sure I could be in the same boat in B’s class only four other boys and already the five of them are inseparable and gang up on the girls sometimes. 🙁 I have been trying to explain the make other friends to B too as he won’t leave the boys he knows side. I keep telling him it’s ok to play with girls too. Not having it. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

  2. That’s a tough situation, but it sounds like you dealt with it well and hopefully he’ll remember the lesson as he gets older. #sharewithme

  3. That is a lot to take on for the first week. They are still so young aren’t they and it is difficult to know what goes on during class sometimes. Hopefully he will have fun and make lots of new friends with time.
    Popped over from the Monday parenting pin it party.

    1. He seems to be talking about more of the children now, but under duress! We’ll get there. He still can’t remember the name of his ‘buddy’ from year 2. It’s a girl, he says. Funny how he remembers all the other reception class buddies.

  4. Oh wow what a first week! It’s so hard isn’t it, to help them translate what’s banter between adults into what is and isn’t appropriate for them – I think your plan was great and it clearly had a good impact. Hopefully this week coming will be less eventful!!

  5. Wow it has been an eventful week and I think you dealt with the name calling really well, it’s such a tricky one at this age

    Laura x

  6. Oh dear, it’s such a huge learning curve for them. We’ve been more at the other side of it with a little boy who got a bit physical with Monkey and his best friend. I’ve been surprised by how well Monkey has actually coped with being split from his best friend after 3 years together. They meet up at break times and lunchtime and seem happy with that. I hope N has taken in everything you’ve said.

    1. I can’t believe he’s started being like that. Just everyone’s called a name. To him it’s just a name. When I tell him he wouldn’t feel happy if someone called him names, I just get ‘I wouldn’t mind’. Arrgghh. Hopefully he’ll be nicer now, and we’ll have no more of it.

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