Barbara, I don't quite understand how social activities in 6-year-olds work. I let my child lead, with me doing some of the actual arrangements. For example, she'll say she wants to play with Sally; I'll call Sally's parents to try and set that up.
I am finding it hard to schedule playdates. I am beginning to wonder if the ease of setting up a playdate with someone else's child is directly related to MY social acquaintance with the parents. It seems that people default to setting up playdates with their friend's children rather than kids they meet at school. When she has playdates, the parents do always rave about how fabulous she was and how well the kids played together so I really don't think its a problem with poor behavior on her end. On our end, we have a safe home, supervise playdates and offer snacks. I feel we initiate most of the play date offers. Are my lack of friends hurting her social life? When do kids take the lead on their social life?
From: Shy parent, Wellesley
I think in these early years -- that is preschool, K and first grade -- when parents tend to accompany their child on the playdate, at least in the beginning, it is true that parents tend to gravitate to people they know already. Or put another way, when parents are comfortable with each other and there is a relationship among them, the playdates tend to follow. So, yes, your lack of social ease could be influencing the invitations she receives especially since some mothers can have small friendship groups that, unwittingly or not, become exclusionary.
This will start to change soon, maybe later this year or early next year, when girls -- and boys -- begin to develop friendships that are separate from or beyond the ones their parents have facilitated. That will work to your advantage. Meanwhile:
Reach out to the teacher, tell her your dilemma. It wouldn't be the first time a teacher played matchmaker for the moms. (When my son was in kindergarten, I asked the teacher if there was a classmate she'd recommend for a playmate. I remember very clearly that she said, "Yes, and I think you could be friends with the mom, too." She was right. We're best friends. Still.)
Reach out to a parent who seems approachable and whose child your child enjoys. Invite her to coffee one morning after you drop the kids off.
Make a point to linger at drop-off or pick-up and get up the courage to insert yourself into a conversation group.
Invite one or two moms to your house while the daughters play.
By the way, Wellesley has a wonderful resource for mothers, the Wellesley Mothers' Forum. (I've spoken there a number of times.) Try it!
Lastly, I want to say that what you are experiencing is not unique; many women feel the same way. I hope we hear from some of them here.
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