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Question
Posted by: Ellen | 2011-10-11

6 year old having problems at school

My 6 year old boy is having problems making friends at school. He is in grade R, and was in pre-school before. A number of his friends from pre-school also attend the school where he is now. Lately he is complaining that his regular friends won''t play with him. Bravely, he made new friends, but now he complains that the new friends hurt him. He spent a big part of the past holiday making little cards for his old friends to try and win them back, but it was basically thrown in his face. According to his teacher he has plenty of friends. Yet, he cries himself to sleep at night and keeps telling me that no-one likes him. He is an only child, so we have made effort to let him take karate classes and other sports at school. He enjoys the karate, although the friends he made there have all quit in the mean time. We live far out of town, so play dates are difficult as most of his friends live in town. We have even tried to sell our house to move closer to town, but to no avail. What can I do?

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

I suppose one needs to continue calmly chatting with him about this, to get more information about exactly what is going wrong for him. Why would his previous friends no longer play with him ? Is it perhaps just that in a new school with a larger number of alternative pals, they have less need to play exclusively with him ? Have they changed drastically, or is he feeling insecure in the new school, and more dependent on old friendships ?
Being an only child and living out of town, he may be a bit more dependent than most mon the kids at school and the time at school, for play.
Its sweet, encouraging and commendable that he took the initiative in making the cards for his old friends - what a great kid ! Shame that they didn;t respond as helpfully.
What i9s actually happening when he says that the new friends he makes "hurt him" - hurt physically or emotionally, and how and apparently why ?
If the teacher says he has lots of friends, presumably her definition of "friends" is not his. I wonder whether he is less friended nowadays, or if he feels more needy, and less satisfied with the less close friendships that may be part of the new school ?
Have you chatted with the mothers of some of his old friends, that they can in turn chat with their kids, and find out what they think is happening, and what, if anything, has changed from their point of view ?

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Our users say:
Posted by: Rose | 2011-11-21

I absolutely agree with Ina , in that you should lay low on the issue with him. Know it is there , but don''t dwell on it - then he will too. Children of that age draw more than we realise from us as parents , it is almost as a sixth sense. I suggest you be his best friend , take time to play with him at his level ( you only have a year or two left to do this - soon he won''t want you ) and give him lots of hugs and cuddles . Lots of people may disagree with me on this point , but if you can , lay with him at night and cuddle him until he falls asleep - the secure feeling this will give him will carry through into the rest of his day . ( I don''t think you can actually spoil a child with too much love ) If he feels loved and secure at home , he will be able to draw on this when he is faced with uncertainty during his day. And do encourage him , maybe with a special cartoon book , that he can take to school , and tell him he can sit and read that at school when he is feeling lonely! They are such special little souls - just love him more and more.

Reply to Rose
Posted by: Ina wessels | 2011-10-24

Ellen, my heart absolutely go out to you and your kid. After raising two boys and two girls and remembering how they interacted in school, I think the entire issue arises from insecurity on your son''s part. My oldest son was a very self conscious boy and he didn''t have many friends while my youngest son was almost over self assured and he never had a shortage of friends. Same with my daughters. Oldest was outgoing and had lots of friends while the withdrawn youngest was struggling making friends.

So I suggest you make an effort of building your boy''s self confidence. Make him believe that he is strong, smart and a very special person with whom everyone would want to be friends. If he can believe it, he will radiate enough confidence to make other children react on it. This is actually true for any person at any age. We tend to judge people according to their demeanor.

Also, don''t mention anything about children not wanting to play with him in front of your kid. It is important that he forget this " unworthy"  thought. Concentrate on positive thinking. It will take time but believe me, he will make easier friends if he feels better about himself.

Good luck.

Reply to Ina wessels
Posted by: Biana | 2011-10-23

That''s 2 celver by half and 2x2 clever 4 me. Thanks!

Reply to Biana
Posted by: Realist | 2011-10-11

I''m really sorry to hear about your child. Kids can be awfully cruel and for no apparent reason, its just something they seem to sense and then the " pack"  mentality kicks in and poor kid suffers.

Is there anything outwardly that makes him different from the rest of his peers or does he possess anything that makes the other kids envious ? Is he smaller than the others, or particularly clever ? Its these sort of things that other kids seem to hone in on. Anyway, I am sure that it will pass but I do feel for you.

Reply to Realist
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011-10-11

I suppose one needs to continue calmly chatting with him about this, to get more information about exactly what is going wrong for him. Why would his previous friends no longer play with him ? Is it perhaps just that in a new school with a larger number of alternative pals, they have less need to play exclusively with him ? Have they changed drastically, or is he feeling insecure in the new school, and more dependent on old friendships ?
Being an only child and living out of town, he may be a bit more dependent than most mon the kids at school and the time at school, for play.
Its sweet, encouraging and commendable that he took the initiative in making the cards for his old friends - what a great kid ! Shame that they didn;t respond as helpfully.
What i9s actually happening when he says that the new friends he makes "hurt him" - hurt physically or emotionally, and how and apparently why ?
If the teacher says he has lots of friends, presumably her definition of "friends" is not his. I wonder whether he is less friended nowadays, or if he feels more needy, and less satisfied with the less close friendships that may be part of the new school ?
Have you chatted with the mothers of some of his old friends, that they can in turn chat with their kids, and find out what they think is happening, and what, if anything, has changed from their point of view ?

Reply to cybershrink

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