A Mom Learns To Help Her Son With His Social Development

Surely I’m not the only parent who has worried about her child when it comes to making friends. Actually, to be accurate, I wasn’t worried until about eight months into my son’s year in preschool. One day he woke up and said, ‘I’m not going to school, I don’t want to go’. This was so unlike him. He is normally very excited to go to school. I immediately felt anxiety take over every inch of my body (have I ever mentioned that I am an expert worrier?). I asked him what was wrong and he said ‘nobody plays with me’. My anxiety took a turn for the worse and I felt like a thousand bricks had been placed on my shoulders. How could my baby boy — my extrovert, happy, friendly, outgoing, handsome baby - be left out during play time? Why didn’t the other kids adore him the way I do?

Photo courtesy of Tahar Abroudjameur

I told him that he would feel better once we got there, and that if he had any issues in class, he should talk to his teacher about them. He was reluctant; however, after many bribes and threats from me, we finally made it to school. I took him into his classroom and signed him in. He went to the reading carpet and sat in a corner. I slowly saw tears form in his eyes. I signed in and went to him. I took him aside and tried to talk to him but he started crying more saying he wanted to go home. I took him into the bathroom and couldn’t help myself. We both cried together, him telling me how he didn't want to stay in class, and me convincing him that he really should and promising that things would be better today. After a while we both composed ourselves and I went into the classroom and pulled one of the teachers aside. We had a talk with my son and she promised that he would get first dibs on a new set of toys she was going to bring to class. She also mentioned she would have a talk with the rest of the class and assured me that this wasn’t something that was ongoing with him. I left him with a heavy heart and headed to my car when another mom stopped me.

Photo courtesy of Carlos

She was aware of the situation and gave me a few tips. She suggested I schedule play dates with other kids in the class, or even hang out after class at the playground so my son could bond with other kids outside of school. She also reminded me that kids will be kids. Today they may not get along with another child, but tomorrow they will become besties. I was grateful for her inspirational talk. She made me feel so much better about my son’s situation.

We live close enough to the school that after class I decided to take a walk to pick him up. Knowing the bond he has with our dog I decided to take it along to cheer him up. When I walked into class he had his bright smile back on his face. All of his woes were gone and he was happy again. His teacher said he was fine after I left and that she had a friendship talk with all of the class. All was well again.

Photo courtesy of New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

Social acceptance is something most parents worry about - often more than our children understand. But giving our children confidence and demonstrating empathy is the best remedy. Role playing is also a great tool. Through it, I learned my son is a tad bossy sometimes. We did more role playing to teach him to play nicely and not throw in the towel when he didn’t get his way.

Childhood years aren’t a popularity contest, that’s for sure. But assisting my child in developing strong social skills will definitely help him in the long run