This morning, while I was dropping my 4 1/2 year old off at school she told me that one of her very best friends was mad and was not talking to her. She didn’t know why and was sad. I talked with her about asking him why so that if she had done something wrong she could apologize. She agreed but when I turned to leave he was right in front of me. He was not his normal smiling self – something was weighing on him. I bent down and asked him what was wrong. To summarize, he told me he could no longer be friends with Lilah because he had new friends at his new school (he is leaving in August to go to a different Kindergarten). I was CRUSHED and so was Lilah. He seemed so unhappy about it too. I thought this is not the way to spend the last couple weeks together.
At this point, we were drawing a crowd of preschoolers and I tried to explain that you can have many friends. I told him how Lilah still has friends from her old school. He didn’t believe me. The teacher came over to gather all the children and it was time for me to leave.
I spoke with the head of the school before I left and he assured me he would talk to ALL the children about it. As much as I want to protect her, I know this is only the beginning of the misunderstandings, harsh words, and miscommunications that are part of a child’s life.
Here are a few tips to help your child through leaving or being left by their friends.
- Talk About It: Explain to your child that though they no longer attend school together, aren’t on the same team, or don’t live in the same area, they can still remain friends. We can’t have too many friends.
- Stay Connected: Set up play dates shortly after they are no longer together to assure them that they are still friends. If they are far away have them write a letter or call each other regularly. Depending on the age of your child, they can also email or be friends on Facebook.
- Try to make them understand that they will have many friends in their life and some see each other daily and others sporadically, but that doesn’t change their friendship.
- Put photos of your child’s friends in their rooms and talk about them often.
Obviously not all children will be able to maintain ALL their friendships (especially the young ones). But remember, if it’s a close friendship those kids are part of what has shaped them and are worth the effort it takes to stay connected.