Independent children

Dear Diane,

Whenever I ask my six-year-old daughter who she played with at school, she always says “No-one”. I’m not sure if I should be worried about this or not. She’s quite an independent little thing, but I’d hate to think that she’s being shunned or ostracised at school. I did ask the teacher what she thought when I was doing the school pick-up up one day, but the teacher didn’t really seem too interested.

I thought perhaps I would encourage my daughter to have play dates, but again she just said quite calmly, “I don’t really like anyone at school,” and pottered off to her room to play with her dolls. Do you think I’m worrying about nothing?*


*Clare, Wanganui


Dear Clare,

oost of us would feel far more reassured that our children are having a good time at school if they reeled off the names of all the people they had played with and what fun they had had together. But unless our kids are really socially-focused, they’re unlikely to view their school day that way.

To get information out of them, we’re better off asking an open-ended question like, “How was school today?” and letting our child choose to tell us about good things or bad things – or both.

Timing is another factor. Some children want to chat after school, but others appear to have used up all their energy and all their words and just want some peaceful time to relax.

We can get fuller answers if we ask them about their day when we sit with them for a chat before bedtime.

Timing is also critical when we try to set up play dates. But don’t tie this to a solution for not having friends to play with, and don’t try to set them up for after school, when your child has clearly shown that she needs downtime.

Rather, think in terms of, “What are we going to do during the weekend?”

Ask your child’s teacher who your daughter enjoys working with in class. That child might make a good weekend play date.

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