Child Caring

She's missing her friend

I changed jobs so it was a good time to change day cares. My daughter had made a very good friend at her daycare. Its been 2 months and she saw the little girl over the weekend. Since then she has cried a couple times, missing her friend. Due to illnesses at our new daycare, it hasn't been consistent. I know consistency is a very big thing with kids. Since that has been out of my control, what can I do to help her adjust? She has friends in our neighborhood that she plays with. What can I do to help her deal with this? Thank you for your time.

From: Andrea, Monticello, NY

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Dear Andrea,

* Validate her feelings: "You really miss her, don't you?" So often, we think we can make children feel better by saying things like, "Oh, you'll be fine, it's not a big deal," but that actually has the opposite effect from making them move on because they have to work that much harder to convince us of their true feelings. Even children as young as 3 truly can feel the loss of a friends so validating her feelings enables her to let go of them sooner and also has the added benefit of making her feel that you really "get" her" "Mom understands!"

* Be sure the current caregivers know that she's missing her friend. Sometimes a teacher's nudge toward another child they think will be compatible is all it takes for a new friendship to bloom.

* Arrange playdates with other children from the current daycare group. Again, propinquity can make a difference.

* Find ways to maintain the old friendship. They can draw pictures and send them to each other, or dictate short "letters."

* Read books about friendship. That's another way to validate her feelings but also to help her explore the concept of friendship. Click here for recommendations on books for preschoolers about friendship, from the National Association for the Education of Young Children.