I have an 8 year old girl who is going into the 3rd grade this year. We have had several conversations about her peers at school. She struggles like all children with friendships at school and the occasional argument that comes up. She also has a cousin, close to her age that she plays with regularly and seems to be in competition with at all times.
To be honest I have never thought about choosing her friends. I occasionally go to school and sit with her at lunch to see how she interacts with her peers and observe the other children in her class. I did ask her teacher how she gets along with others and if there was any peers that she struggles more with. She seemed to be chatty with one particular classmate. It got to the point that I had to talk with her about that the number one reason that she is at school is the get an education and that friendships are second to that. Her teacher decided to move them apart and put them in opposite corners of the room so they could concentrate better and pay attention to the lesson instead of talking.
I don’t want to choose her friends. I have to admit that when I was younger, I did the opposite of what I was told (shocker right), so I figure that the most important thing for me is that she has fulfilling friendships that are healthy. Children are in constant development and are learning at every turn. I want to make sure that if there is an issue such as bullying or teasing that my child feels that she can come to me and talk. Kids can be cruel and feeling can easily be hurt. I want to be there for her to try to talk through any problems such as nobody wants to play with me or about why someone has treated her in such a way. The teacher might not always have time to help her through those times and I want to know what is going on with my child. This will always be an ongoing issue.
I think that healthy self- esteem and the ability to stand up for herself are important in the way she interacts with others. If she is confident with herself, then she can feel comfortable articulating her needs to others and can ask for help if needed.
I think that it is important to keep in touch with her teacher as well. Her teacher observes her interactions with her peers and can tell if there is an issue that might need extra attention. Parents shouldn’t wait until Parent-Teacher conferences to come around to have a conversation with their child’s teacher or visa- versa. I want to keep the line of communication open with my child’s teacher. I like to hear the good because there is always plenty of the bad.
The best thing that I can do as a parent is to be involved in my child’s life. My child needs to know that she is the most important thing to me and we can work together to overcome anything!