Trusting children to make friends

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.

trusting kids to make their own friends - Bubbablue and me

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?


Why not take a look at these similar posts.

turning 40 friendships rules of friendships camping friends

Love it? Share it


  1. It’s an interesting conundrum isn’t it? You want to equip him so he can make friends, but still offer some guidance about who as well. It sounds like you’re approaching this tactfully with your boy and something I’m sure that will stand him in good stead in the coming years. Thanks for linking up to #PoCoLo

  2. So far I’m very grateful that B’s friends are children of Mums that I’m friends with, however I also worry that I could push her too much for my benefit and she’ll rebel at some point.

  3. My niece is exceptionally shy to the point where she would rather sit in her own and not interact which was slightly worrying, but some of the mums at school have arranged their own after school club once a fortnight to get their children to interact in a neutral setting and it seems to be working x

  4. Aw lovely to read this. I worry about my boy so much when it comes to making friends. He seems to play nicely with the other children at nursery so I’m hoping he will be the same at school. Thanks for sharing and it sounds like N is doing great and just getting there in his own time. It’s great about encouraging a new friendship with the neighbour and hopefully they will become firm friends in the future.

  5. This happened with my older children, but none of my friends have a child who is Pickles age. He has just started nursery so I am hoping that his new friends will bring new friendships to me with their mums! Kaz x

  6. I think you are completely right, I was very shy when I was younger and felt awkward in social situations and was sometimes pushed into friendships that were toxic for want of a better word.

  7. Marianna is still a bit young yet (her main reaction to other kids is to watch in bemusement or to try and take their toy / food / etc off them, sigh) but I really hope she’ll be able to make friends easily. I was incredibly shy as a kid and found it really difficult! x #pocolo

  8. I have to admit that Eliza is a social butterfly and has dozens of friends but Isaac finds it harder. He had a circle of four friends when he started nursery but none of them went to his school and he found it really hard

  9. I have twins; one is incredibly outgoing and the other is a lot more subdued (not any less confident I don’t think, he just doesn’t feel the need to please people like his brother does). We are just venturing into the world of them having their own friends and it is interesting to see the people they pick. Would love to find out more in future posts about how your son’s friendships develop as he grows older. Yvonne

    1. Ooh I’m always intrigued with the difference in twins, there’s a pair in N’s class and they’re certainly very different although a girl and boy which probably explains some of the difference.

      Thanks for the comment Yvonne

  10. It’s lovely that you wanted to make the new neighbour boy feel welcome. In time your son might eventually end up becoming good friends with him but I suppose as with most things, friendships even at the child level take time to develop. I was a bit shy when I was younger but after observing people usually made friends quite easily. 🙂

Comments are closed.