Circle of Friends

Preschool Politics

Playing Together

Kaysh Shinn

The beginning of preschool often heralds another new development -- your child may single out specific kids she wants to play with. At this age, a friendship is often based on a shared love of Play-Doh or a passion for the dress-up corner. Navigating friendships can have its share of insecurities, missteps, and possible rejection. A 3-year-old might see a group of kids on the playground but have no idea how to join in. Her inborn egocentrism may make it hard for her to understand why everyone doesn't just turn around and accept her from the get-go. With practice, she'll learn how to break into a group and master the social niceties, helping her create the relationships that turn into true friendships.

By age 5, most children will spend more than half their playtime with their peers, says Joanne Hendrick, PhD, coauthor of The Whole Child: Developmental Education for the Early Years (Prentice Hall), and by age 7, Gouley says, "it's almost intolerable to be without a friend. It's a short amount of time where the parent is the center."

So enjoy these toddler years during which you're still the center of your child's universe and the person whose opinion matters most.

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