Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Which comes first, social skills or social life?

Welcome to the August 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Friends

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about friends.

How do you teach a preschooler to be a friend that others want to have? I mean, our daughter is nearly 5. She only rarely uses her manners without being reminded. I realize that most kids don't really care about manners, but... she cries and screams on occasion. She cried at our unschooling coop last week because a girl wouldn't let her play with a toy that was special to her. She cries and screams when its time to leave an event that includes other children. I try to give her a countdown, I try to soothe her. None of it makes much difference. It seems like the only thing that helps is if we have something exciting to go do afterward, especially with a friend. That can't happen every time, its not possible. You have to go home eventually!

There is one girl that she thinks of as her best friend. I would like her mother to become my new BFF as well. They are the most peaceful people I have ever met! But the little girl doesn't want to play with Sasha... not until she moves past her "loud phase." It breaks my heart - for both of us. Sasha asks me, often, when we're going back to her house. How do I help her understand? How do I help her learn from this? She's never been terribly empathetic or even sympathetic to others, so there's that hindrance as well. Its only been recently that she even started to notice if I'm crying.

Tyler had a "bestie" by the time she was 2.
Perhaps getting an extra early start helped.

All that said, I think she's just still at a phase where her emotions are bigger than she can manage. And when they hit her - she lets the world know! There are a couple of other girls in our circle close in age that are equally emotional (and loud). This helps me to realize and recognize that she is at a "normal" stage of development. I want to support her expressing her emotions, but... I also don't want her to be a friendless outcast. The screaming isn't pleasant for me, either!

Is it possible to hold off on a social life until social skills are in place? I don't think so. But how do you maintain a social life for a child with poor (or undeveloped) social skills?

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Sibling Revelry — At Natural Parents Network, Amy W. shares her joy in witnessing the growth of the friendship between her two young children.
  • Making New Mama Friends — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama muses on how she was able to connect with like-minded mamas and form deep friendships both in 'real life' and online. Learn how these life-long friendships, both between Jennifer and other mothers but also between Jennifer's daughter and the other children, formed and flourished.
  • Family, Friends and Family Friends — Vidya Sury at Vidya Sury, Going A-Musing, Collecting Smiles is reflecting on family friendships, past and present.
  • Arranging friendships in a modern world — From a free-range childhood to current parenthood, how can an introvert like Lauren at Hobo Mama navigate the newly complicated scheduling of playdates and mom friends?
  • Mommy Blogs: Where Moms Make Friends — Mothers make friends with other mothers in new ways. The options from earlier decades remain, but new avenues have sprung up with mommy bloggers. Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. at Parental Intelligence shares her thoughts.
  • Friendship and Sacrifice: Guardians of the Galaxy — Shay at 4HisGlory learned that friendship lessons can be found in unlikely places, like blockbuster summer movies.
  • Friendship - Finding, Forming, Keeping, and WishingLife Breath Present's thoughts on finding, forming, keeping, and wishing for friendships as an introvert.

  • Consciously Creating My Community: Monthly Dinners — How have you intentionally created community? Dionna at Code Name: Mama's goal for the year is to cultivate community. One way she's done that is to help organize two different monthly dinners with friends.
  • Adults need imaginary friends, too — Tat at Mum in Search shares why it's a good idea for adults to have imaginary friends. You get to meet Tat's friend and download a playbook to create your own.
  • Friends Near, Friends Far — Kellie at Our Mindful Life helps her kids keep in touch with friends 600 miles apart.
  • Which comes first, social skills or social life? — Jorje of Momma Jorje frets about whether her daughter can learn social skills without experience, but how to get good experience without social skills.
  • Snail Mail Revival — Skype isn't the only way to stay in touch with long distance friends, That Mama Gretchen and her family are breaking out the envelopes and stamps these days!
  • Montessori-Inspired Friendship Activities — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares a roundup of Montessori-inspired friendship activities for home or classroom.
  • How I used the internet to make local friends — After years of striking out at the park, Crunchy Con Mom finally found some great local friends . . . online!
  • My How Friends Change — Erica at ChildOrganics knows entirely too much about how to comfort a friend after a loss.


  1. Personally I find my kids social skills go up and down. One moment I will feel so proud, then the next I'd like to hide in a corner. I guess that's all part of the process. Ride the waves Jorge, ride the waves...

    1. Ride the waves... thanks for the reminder :-)

  2. It's such a fine balance, isn't it? They need social skills to play, but on the other hand, they need to play with others in order to gain those social skills. I wouldn't give up. Find some friends who are understanding, she'll get there. Also, I wonder if having an agreement (made with her beforehand and with gentle reminders) that when she gets out of control upset, you two will find a quiet spot to let her release those emotions? Maybe some stay-listening right there? I have a very emotional 6.5yo, so I understand!

  3. My preschooler is too intense for some of his "friends" too. But I figure that's sort of the nature of life. My husband and I are too intense for some people. And others we love dearly and vice versa, but because they are introverts, it works better for us to socialize with them just a little at a time and then give them space again. And I figure my son will probably be the same. He will have some people he just doesn't mesh with and others that he meshes with but who are overwhelmed by his noisy energy and prefer small doses.

  4. This is my perpetual question as well. My son likes to beat up kids when he is feeling insecure. I don't want to remove him and scold him (which is what I think other parents want me to do), but I also don't want to him to be the bully that no one likes. Has anyone had good success with dealing with this issue?

  5. This is something we've been pondering lately, too. My older son is very outgoing but sometimes needs coaching on what's appropriate so he doesn't overwhelm people. So we've been doing just that — coaching him, giving him scripts to use, and reminding him how to treat people. I figure being social is a work in progress with young kids, right? (And with me, ha ha!)

  6. No answers, just love! Big emotions are hard to process and work through - I see this with both of my kids.

  7. It is definitely a process. I always loved Montessori grace and courtesy lessons for helping kids learn how to get along with all sorts of people. Children are given lessons in how to interact in various social situations and lots of opportunities for role play. I always went over certain etiquette rules with my kids before a specific event. It really helped them become more comfortable and develop self-control and manners. When they forgot, we just went over the lesson again at another time.


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