Helping Your Child Make and Keep Friends

Why is my child excluded?

Children are constantly trying to define themselves through their independence. As your child grows older, approval from peers becomes more important than your parental approval. Due to this, children can be extremely accepting of others, but they can also be completely intolerant of others. Your child can be “in” or “out” depending on the day.

Teach communication and social skills.

Everyone likes to talk about themselves. Teach your child to ask her friend about herself and to play the games her friend wants to play. As well, teach your child to share and to treat others the way she would want to be treated. Always compliment your child when she behaves appropriately in social situations. 

Provide security.

Let your child know you have confidence in him and in his teacher or caregiver. Being friendly with the instructor and other parents demonstrates to your child that you approve of them and allows him to have confidence in the situation and in himself.  

Participate in friend selection.

While you can’t control what happens at school, you still maintain quite a bit of supervision at home. You can determine who your child plays with and what activities they do. Direct your child to those children in the neighborhood who have similar values, skills, and interests as your child. Allow your child to have sleep-overs once in a while to encourage friendships.   

Model interactions.

Show your child how to positively interact with others. Be a role model for your child. Take your child with you to social events where she can observe first-hand how to have enjoyable relationships.    

Utilizing these strategies will build your child’s self-esteem and give him or her a reserve of positive experiences to draw from when needed. Focusing on the reasons your child is out of a particular group may increase  feelings of “something's wrong with me.” Instead, be encouraging and supportive. As well, if your child always seems to be one of the insiders, help him or her develop empathy for those that are excluded. Remember, your child will not be “in” all of the time, and that’s okay.


Israeloff, R. "Friendships at Day Care"

King, J. S. “Buddy Building.”

“Mommy, Nobody Likes Me.” Parents Digest