As a parent, we know how important it is to have friends in our lives. Friends not only fills our lives with joy but also become our moral supporter and self-esteem boosters.
But for kids, the idea of having friends is different. Some kids are very extroverts and love to make friends everywhere they go, but some are introverts and shy, struggling to even mingle with their classmates they see daily at school.
All kids are different, so it is important for parents to know their child’s nature and only help them enhance their social and relationship skills. I have seen parents saying, “My 4-year-old has no friends,” even after starting school, I tell them you cannot make friends for them, but you can help them overcome their introverted nature.
Is it normal for a 4-year-old not to have friends?
It is absolutely normal not to have friends at the age of 4. Some children like to play alone and do not want anyone to break their comfort zone.
Some kids do not need others to fulfill their time; instead, they like to be independent and self-centered. The positive side of a child playing alone is that they learn how to solve problems independently, while the opposing side is they would lack social and interacting skills in the future and would hesitate to talk to everyone.
So as a parent, we should work on this matter, but we can’t force them to make many friends. Maybe he is the kind of a person who prefers “ Quality over quantity.”
Should I help my child to make friends?
Yes, you can definitely help your 4-year-old to make friends by only improving his emotional, self-regulation, and social skills. This is the only thing we can do in our capacity; the rest depends on how he deals with this personal business.
To help your child to make friends, you should see if there is anything not normal, like checking;
1- If your child is being bullied:
Sometimes, kids at the preschool level get bullied over many things we cannot imagine.
Closely monitor your child’s complaints if he gives you clues like, “Some kids are mean to me,” “I hate it when XYZ snatches my lunch or stationary,” or “I don’t want to play with XYZ because he pushes and bites me.”
So if this is the case, take immediate action and involve the school management.
2- If he is having problems interacting with others:
If your child struggles even to say a sentence in front of the other child, he may have problems interacting and starting a conversation by himself.
3- If he lacks social skills:
Your 4 -year old might lack social skills like not expressing how he feels, not interacting with kids of the same age, not participating in group projects, or not joining group play even if other kids invite him.
4- If he lacks patience:
See if he is impatient even in everyday situations like waiting for the food to be served, or waiting for his turn to talk, etc.
5- If he does not like sharing and negotiations
Sometimes kids who do not want to share things or negotiate in normal situations find it hard to make friends.
6- If he has an ADHD problem:
If your child is hesitant to make friends of his age and takes an interest in children younger than him, there could be a chance of ADHD. Usually, children with ADHD need support to develop friendship skills like sharing, taking turns, agreeing on negotiations, etc.
After checking all the odds, if you find everything normal, gently talk to the child and figure out the problem.
You shouldn’t force him if he is still not interested in making friends. Not all kids are the same and want to be around kids.
But you can help your child make friends without making him realize that you are trying to do so because, in the long run, it is not good not to have any friends.
How to help a 4-year-old to make friends?
Here are a few tips to help your 4-year-old to make friends:
1- Solve the problem:
If your child is having trouble interacting, faces a bully, or lacks the skills to make friends. Then, you should take the necessary action.
Start emphasizing solving the problem by not letting the child know that you are doing this for a purpose. Instead, involve the child in activities that boost their confidence and help them overcome their troubles.
2- Find him kids with the same interest:
Some kids like to be friends with someone with whom they can share the same interest. For example, If he loves a specific game, enroll him in the game club, where he will interact with children of the same interest.
3- Set some examples:
As a parent, you need to show him how important it is to have some friends. So, you must have friends with whom you interact and meet frequently.
Even if you cannot meet friends daily, talk in front of your child about how much you love hanging with your friends and how many memories you cherish with them.
4- Work on his social skills:
If you notice your child is hesitant or struggles to interact with children of his age, then try to work on his social skills. Coaching starts from home, so it begins with emphasizing taking turns and sharing with the family members. Make him realize that everyone expects good behavior the way you expect from them.
Pretend and play is beneficial in such scenarios, be your child’s friend and model good social behavior when you play with him.
5- Pair him up with friends in neighbors or school:
Take him out every evening when all the neighborhood kids play outside. Let him watch them for a few days. Ask the kids his same age to come and play something together. For the first few days, play with the kids. This will help the child to overcome his shyness when he sees you with him.
After a few days, you would easily see the difference that he will no longer ask you to stay with him and will play independently with friends.
6- Search for a suitable program for your 4-year-old to mingle with kids:
Sometimes kids need a push, maybe due to shyness and introverted personality, your child finds it difficult to make friends. Still, you can help him by signing him up for group activities, playdates, or social clubs in the community.
You can check your local community center or nearest preschool or check social media to see if there is any suitable program for your kid where he can join and make some fantastic friends.
7- Don’t compare him with other kids:
Never compare your kid with other kids in any matter. May it be academic results, sports, manners, or confidence. Every child is different and may lack something which only he and his parents know.
Instead, always work on his weak areas without letting anyone know, even the kid himself.
8- Limit screen time.
Excessive screen time may be why your child is not interested in making friends. Due to limitless screen time, the child loses the ability to observe and experience normal routine life activities they need to learn, which makes them engage in the real world.
When the screen becomes his friend, he does not care if he has a human friend or not, he has a lot within it.
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Storybooks influence children’s minds a lot. You can read them bedtime stories about making new friends.
It is totally fine if your 4-year-old has no friends. Some kids are naturally introverted, or they don’t like others’ intervention in their activities.
You can help your 4-year-old to make friends by finding them kids with the same interests and helping them overcome their shyness.