How to Help Your Little One Regroup When Friendships Fail

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Image via Katie Hurley

The nice thing about the early elementary years is that kids tend to make friends easily during this time. They see a jump rope or a soccer ball and they all run for it, and that ignites a friendship. Play is the language of young children, and friendships are often forged simply through the act of play.

Sometimes those friendships continue from year to year, but sometimes they don’t.

Some kids move on with ease and find other friends, while some sit back and mourn the loss of a friendship that fizzled.

The hard part of the early elementary years is that kids grow and change rapidly, and what seems like a great match one month can fall apart the next.

My daughter made quite a few new friends in first grade. It was a nice mix of kids, and they all played well together. She made two or three new friends, in particular, that seemed to share common interests and enjoy pretend play during recess. But something shifted once second grade started. Suddenly, girls paired off and formed alliances. The two friends from the previous year changed (a lot), and those friendships stopped working. Split from her best friend for the very first time, she felt lost and confused by the transitional nature of these friendships. And that made for a rough start to the year.

It’s hard when friendships fail, particularly for kids who tend to stick to just a few friends. The fallout can be isolating and lead to fairly significant emotional upheaval. It helps to teach kids how to move forward and find a new friend. Simply stating, “Play with someone else!” is lost on a child who struggles to enter groups. And play dates with new faces aren't always the answer.

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How to Help Your Little One Regroup When Friendships Fail

Katie Hurley, LCSW is a Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and writer in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of "No More Mean Girls: The Secret to Raising Strong, Confident, and Compassionate Girls" and "The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World". She earned her BA in Psychology and Women's Studies from Boston College and her MSW from the University of Pennsylvania. She divides her time between her family, her private practice and her writing. Passionate about he ... More

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