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My son is 5 years old.

He met his best friend in preschool. They know each other for 1 year. They are very very good friends, they play together everyday at school. For school holiday, they talk to each other via face-time. They always say they miss each other on school holiday. They both go to kindergarten this year, and very lucky they are still in the same class. One week before the school term start, they talked with each other via face-time, they were so happy.

But on the 1st day they back to school, my son was really happy to meet him in the class, but his friend did not talk to him and did not play with him anymore. So my son is really upset. When he came back home, he felt so sad and crying, asked me:

Mummy I am so sad, what happened to him, he told me he is not my friend anymore! I really like him, I want to play with him……

I am so sad, I don’t know how to help my son. What can I do?

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  • Maybe it wasn't so lucky they were placed in the same class.... If you're in the US, most schools have a social worker who can observe and step in and assist if a child is getting too isolated and is having trouble developing positive peer relationships. The classroom teacher is usually a good place to start. Good luck. Feb 5 at 21:15

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I'm really sorry this is happening to your son, it's very frustrating to navigate these sort of social dynamics.

My youngest has gone through similar, a few times throughout preschool and kindergarten, and from that experience I can say that this won't be the last time this happens; kids just change over time, and have different things they want out of relationships, just like adults.

Kindergarten is a major change for everyone, and it's very common to have total shakeups of social dynamics at this point. It doesn't mean, though, that this child is no longer a friend; this is a major change in everyone's life, and it's very possible they're simply exploring other friendships, but will come back to your son over time. They also may not - it's possible they did change in some way that makes them less interested in your son's friendship.

With my youngest, I found a few things helped. Not minimizing his feelings was key, as these were major, important feelings; he'd be very sad that his former best friend was no longer playing with him, and we'd talk about how it makes him feel. In those conversations, we'd give him tools: how does he talk to his friend? How does he talk to other kids he might want to play with? We'd also go over strategies: how does he identify another group of kids to play with? What can he do if he doesn't have anyone to play with right now?

Another major thing to consider is that it's very important to learn that one can carry on if a friendship ends. Some kids like to have a large stable of friends to play with, and some don't - they like to attach to one other kid and play with just them. For kids in the latter group, it's important to be able to learn how to move on from a friendship - both learning to accept that it's not something that makes them a bad person, and learning what to do; making new friends, finding things to do when there isn't a friend available.

With my youngest, we worked on being able to do things on our own at recess, at how to ask a group of kids if it's okay to join, and at how to talk to the (former) friend later on and see if they're now ready to play again. I can't say any of this truly solved the issue, because the hurt is always there - but it helped him move on. He's still mostly a "one friend" kid, but now he knows that he can continue on if that friend leaves - and he does play with others from time to time, showing us that he has learned how to navigate the complex social dynamics of the (now third grade) playground.


One other thing to consider as a parent is to let the teacher know what's going on. I don't suggest asking the teacher to do anything, because this really is something the kids need to learn for themselves - nothing's worse than being the kid adults have to tell other kids to play with - but the teacher should be aware so they can monitor for more serious issues, and so they can let you know how things are going socially. Some teachers are more willing and able to do this than others, but a kindergarten teacher should be willing to help here - it's a very important element of kindergarten, honestly more important than the textbook learning.

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  • Thank you so much Joe. I will talk to the teacher today. And do you think if I can talk to his mother, maybe she knows what happened between them?
    – Lindaupup
    Feb 2 at 18:52
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    If it's someone you talk to socially, then sure - just make sure to be very open minded in that conversation, but if it's someone you really don't talk to normally, I would probably not; for the most part the idea is not for you to interfere directly, and so there's not that much information you can get here that will make a difference. Your son will learn from this best if he does most of the work himself! And the most likely way for him to become friends again with the other child is for them to work it out without the other mother being involved either.
    – Joe
    Feb 2 at 18:55
  • I will say though that it's very possible to keep preschool friends long term - and as likely not to. My oldest is still best friends with his preschool friend, even though they went to different Kindergartens and now are in different states, and play all the time online (and occasionally in person when we go back); while my youngest has a new best friend and really doesn't think about the preschool friends at all.
    – Joe
    Feb 2 at 18:56
  • yes, I talked with his mum few times via SMS. So maybe I will send sms to her. My son is starting to make new friends. He told me, he is very happy to play with new friend. But he still feel a bit sad when seeing former friend playing without him.
    – Lindaupup
    Feb 2 at 19:10
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    Very good advice. +1 It's especially important for the mothers (unless they're friends) to stay out of it: just as the OP's mother needs to respect the feelings of her child, the friend's mother needs to respect the feelings of her child as well. Children should not be forced to play with someone they prefer not to. Moms can certainly teach empathy, but wiothout guilt-tripping the child.
    – anongoodnurse
    Feb 2 at 22:59

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