Dear David Coleman: 'My daughter is struggling to make friends in school – says her classmates don't want to play with her'

Question: My five-year-old daughter is in a large primary school with three Junior Infants classes. Her best friend from pre-school is in a different class and no longer plays with her. My daughter says her own classmates are all in their own little groups and don’t want to play with her. She has no problem with friends outside of school. How can I help her make friends in school?

David replies: Your daughter seems quite astute, regarding the way social groups have already formed in her class. If she was initially playing with her old friend from pre-school, she might have missed the early formation of those groups and so it is probably more challenging to now join in.

I think the most important thing is to talk to her teacher about the situation in which your daughter now finds herself. There are lots of potential ways that her teacher can help to grease the social wheels of the class.

One option may be to seat your daughter with one or several girls with whom she would like to be friendly.

The teacher may also be able to observe the dynamic at breaktimes, and facilitate your daughter’s inclusion in some of the games that other children are playing, especially if your daughter feels she can’t intrude on these games/groups.

You might also be able to arrange some playdates with children from the class, to further give your daughter a chance to get to know them better and hopefully prepare the ground for playing together in school.

Patience and persistence are often required in these situations.

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