Difficult teens, teen whining or screaming toddlers? treated every week devotion An educational question from readers. This time: the eight-year-old has fewer friends than before. Should her parents care?
In the past, it seemed like there was no end to the walk of girlfriends who brought their daughter home. But these days, the eight-year-old often wanders the schoolyard alone. There are no play dates anymore.
Her parents are worried. Did something happen that made their daughter suddenly have fewer friendships? Or is it only age related? How can they help their daughter?
Friendships change often at this age, explains children and parent coach Hermina Terpstra of Kindgeluk Practice. “Every child is unique, so it’s never black and white. But in general, friendships before age eight are mostly about doing things together. Kids become friends because they enjoy the same activities: hopscotch or horseback riding, for example. You often see Practical friendships in a different way; children often become friends because they live close to each other.”
There is no right or wrong
As children get older, friendships change. “From the age of seven, friendships begin based on how you feel about things. Does another child find it important to stick to the rules just like you?”
Terpstra thinks maybe the girl is going through an evolution in which she discovers the friends who really suit her. Perhaps there are gradually fewer of them.
And she says it’s “very important” that parents don’t keep thinking about right and wrong. “In this day and age, we often think it’s best to have a lot of friends. But maybe that kid is content with a best friend or two.” In this case, you may be wondering who has the problem, the parents or the child. “Parental fear may give way to confidence. Parents can work on an attitude that radiates: that’s fine.”
If a girl suddenly becomes lonely in the schoolyard, the parents will do better to know what is happening. “Is the girl comfortable in her own skin? What makes her suddenly so often lonely? It’s a good idea to investigate.”
A conversation about friendship
Parents can simply start by talking to their daughter, says child psychologist Sander Koijman of ROTA Youth and Children’s Program. Ask your child: Do you have enough friends? Or, oh my God, I’ll never see Sophie again, how come? It’s important to pick a good moment. “Choose a time like before bed, or when you have a parent-child moment like braiding her hair or at a board game.”
If the girl answers that she has very few friends, it is important, according to Kooijman, to ask more questions. Developed the “Friendship Building” course for children and their parents. He also tries to give children insight into friendships by painting a picture of who they get along with and who they don’t like. “Children sometimes say: I have no friends at all. But when they begin to think about it with an adult, it turns out that there are quite a few classmates who like them.”
Get to know the feelings
But it also happens that there is absolutely no one. In the Kooijman cycle, children are asked to take the initiative, for example, inviting another child to a play date. That can be exciting. Sometimes it helps to bring something to school. “If you bring in a ball, you can assume there are other kids who want to play with it during recess.”
“If a child has very few friendships, I would invite the parents to remain curious,” Coach Terpstra says. “Your child must solve it himself. As a parent, be the researcher and facilitator. You can ask the child questions so that you can help him. What do you like? What is important to you in friendship? Which child do you think is a nice friend?”
She says many children don’t really know who they are and what they feel. “So also teach them to become aware of themselves, what feelings there are and how to recognize, accept and express them. Also, as a parent, acknowledge the sadness a child can feel and the desire to belong. Then your child feels: Oh cute, I understand.”
How can your teen focus if the smartphone is always there?
Doing homework and learning tests requires focus. However, this is difficult because the smartphone is always close at hand.
Why is my child suddenly afraid of everyday things?
A coffee machine, a dark room or mom and dad out of sight – suddenly a two-year-old boy finds everything frightening. How can his parents respond best to that?