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Q: My daughter, who's an only child, is in kindergarten. She's doing well academically but seems to have trouble making friends in her new school. Also, she is surrounded by adults -- there's no one her age in our neighborhood. I've been told that it's not healthy for her to be around adults all the time. What can I do?
A: It's okay for your daughter to be around adults, but she needs opportunities to be around children as well. Engaging in play with others is how children learn conflict resolution, appropriate social skills, and expression of creativity.
Since there are no children in your neighborhood, you'll have to work a little harder to provide those opportunities for her. Contact the parents of some of the children in your daughter's class and work out days and times for them to come over to play. You may be able to schedule some regular play dates, or perhaps you and another mom could take turns letting the children come home after school and play together.
You may also want to set up opportunities for group involvement for your daughter. Joining a Girl Scout troop or a soccer team would give her chances to meet other children with similar interests in an informal setting.
Talk also with the school counselor. He may be able to give your daughter some individual time or include her in a small group on making friends. The teacher can also help encourage friendships on the playground and in the classroom.
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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.