Preschooler Friendships ‘They’re not my friend’

N’s generally a really friendly child, or he is once he’s got used to people. 

I think it’s helped that he’s been around lots of people since really young.  As a baby we spent a lot of time out and about with NCT friends and at baby groups.  Then from around a year old he was at day nursery, and with his cousin.  Having 6 cousins who live within 2 miles from the farm, helps as well.  Plus of course, being on a farm there’s always people dropping in for meetings, chats and working.  So being able to talk to and play with them is something that N loves to do.

cousins hanging out

With friends he’s funny though.  He doesn’t understand the concept of having lots of friends, and that he can have more than one best friend.  I’m of the view that you tend to have good friends across different areas of your life.  But for N, he flips and changes depending on where he is, who he’s with and what he’s doing.

So generally his cousin R is named as his best friend.  I think it’s largely because they spent 2 days a week playing together from N being a year old to 2.5 when his cousin went off to school.  They still love to play together, although there’s a definite gap now the cousin is much more mature and wants to play different types of games that N has no concept of.  It doesn’t seem to phase N much as he just carries on and still worships his cousin.  If they’re anything like the 13 and 12 year old cousins, I dread to think what they’ll get up to when they’re older!

funny faces

He then has two nurseries, of which he has 2 best friends there.  What amuses me is that he always talks about these boys independently, but if you mention one and it’s not in the right context or he’s thinking about someone else, whoa.  He denies that he’s friends with them.

We’re going to London for KidsWeek to see The Tiger Who Came to Tea with his friend from nursery school.  But whenever I mention that we’re going with L, N tells me ‘no, I want you to take me on my own.  Not with L’.  Err, it’s arranged and it’ll be nice to go with a friend.  But even though we discussed this prior to booking, he’s adamant we’re going alone!

It’s the same with suggesting swimming with our friends.  I’d love to try and organise for all of our NCT friends to get together and go to the outdoor pool, although not really possible as the pool is really strict about the 1 adult to each under 4yo, and some have a second under 4.  But I’ve suggested several friends that we could go swimming with.  ‘No, only want to go swimming with R’ the cousin.  Thankfully, when it comes down to it, he likes being with his friends.

toddler friends

One thing that always interests me is how his best friends and the ones he mentions always seem to be boys.  Yes, we have a friend of mine and her daughter he plays with fairly regularly, and he’s at nursery with lots of girls, but they never get a mention.

Even though a couple of times I’ve turned up at nursery and heard that he’s been going round hugging the girls (nothing like starting the charm offensive early), or playing lots with one of the girls.  One time I arrived and spotted him giving 2 of the older girls a ride on the back of the trike he was riding.  But I’ll have to prompt and ask if he played with such and such a girl.  It’s like he has a memory blip when it comes to females.

It’s the same with swimming lessons.  The class is boy heavy, and it’s easier to remember the boys’ names as there’s 2-3 Thomas’s there each week, but he only has to remember 2 girls names.  Does he?  Nope, it’s like they don’t exist.

I’d like to get N into the mindset that all the children he sees regularly are friends.  It’d be mortifying if he came out with ‘you’re not my friend’, when actually he chooses to play with that child.

Do your children have a particular best friend?  Do they class all the children they see regularly as friends or not understand that concept?

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  1. If I remember rightly, Grace was very similar at this age!! I think that they are just getting to grips with what a friendship means! It is tricky because you want to explain and help but I think they need to work it out for themselves! Thanks for linking to PoCoLo 🙂 x

    1. You’re right for sure. I think at this age, N just says yes or no to answer questions and really has no idea what you’re actually talking about on certain things

    1. I’m hoping he grows out of it a bit by the time he’s at school and understands more. I think girls are a lot harder when I compare what my bro and I went through with friends at school

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