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A brief background. The kid in question is a bit naturally reserved. She has few friends. Her best friend moved to a different country recently. She now has one friend with whom she plays in park. And plays with no one else. Now things have come to such a pass that she sits in park and keeps waiting till her friend comes. Surrounded by kids who are playing. No matter how much parents coax, she does not play with anyone else.

It is becoming a bit of a bother since many times the friend does not turn up. Parents have not given up. They want to keep her around kids so that her social skills improve. But standing around with the kid sitting and doing nothing sometimes gets on the their nerves.

How to get the kid out of this rut? When she will be comfortable making new friends?

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Sounds to me this 4.5 year old was very attached her best friend that moved and is having trouble moving on as evidenced by her waiting for her friend. In this day and age, it should be possible to maintain a long distance friendship through Skype, FaceTime, Hangouts, etc. When I was younger, email wasn't so popular and webcams weren't cheap, my long distance friends and I used to write each other letters.

The choices here are:

  • help her continue to foster a friendship with her long-distance friend (which will explain why her friend isn't going to show up at the park), or
  • wait for time to heal her.

Chances are this child was already selective with her friends. To lose one of her inner circle is especially devastating. Encourage her to talk about how she is feeling instead of pushing her into another friend right away.

  • These parents are keeping the hope that she will soon start making new friends. They have not given up. They make it a point to go to park everyday. It is just they are waiting for the kid to get confident enough to make friends. Might take time it seems. – NotAgain says Reinstate Monica Mar 11 '16 at 0:47
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It gets 'on their nerves' that their daughter is lonely and not making friends? A strange way to put it. I'm sure she's not doing it to annoy her parents.

Perhaps the park isn't the best place to be trying to get her to socialize. She may associate it just with specific other friends.

What about enrolling her in dancing, music, or art classes?

If she's in a different environment, doing different things, she won't have the expectation that she will see her friend there, so may be more inclined to interact with others. Even if she doesn't immediately start making new friends she'll hopefully be leaning new fun things and gaining confidence.

It's a good idea to try to expand a child's social circle. Give them opportunities to associate with a lot of different groups of people.

  • They are considering to put her in Drama classes. It is just that waiting for a friend to turn up so that she can play gets 'on their nerves'. There are so many kids to play with in park. But these parents are patient and will keep making sure that she is between kids. – NotAgain says Reinstate Monica Mar 11 '16 at 0:45
  • @NotAgain OK, I understand. Drama classes are a great idea. – user1751825 Mar 11 '16 at 0:50
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  1. At this age friendship is a lot about small talk. I would practice doing small talk with her: "Hey, have you seen 'Star Wars'","Hey, nice shoes!". That simple step can get kids this age over the basic boundaries to friendship.

  2. Playdates generate closeness. While in the US it is awkward for adults to invite each other to their homes until they know each other very well, for kids is very normal. Find a kid with something in common and then invite them over. That could break the ice, and give confidence to your child.

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