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Well, you can't force a true friendship, but you can teach your child to be kind to people even if they're not particularly fond of them. I think it's quite important to teach that you should treat everyone with respect and kindness even if you're not best friends with them. And encouraging her to play with a child that has developmental delays could be very rewarding, and could show Kate that even though another kid isn't the "same" as she is, that she can still be friends/friendly with them. My two brothers-in-law are both autistic, so my three year old daughter has learned about disabilities. I also plan to enroll her in a pre-school that has children with developmental disabilities in the same classroom.

Cute, love the conversation you had with Kate!
Yes, I do think you can try to sensitize your child to be nice to everybody! I always told my first-born that she must try to be the nicest friend possible to her friends. Not wait for them to be nice to her.

Too young to take care of a puppy, it would be your charge. go for the fish. On the rest, Pascha said it.

While it's true that Kate should 'be nice' to everyone, and treat them with respect, it does not mean that she has to play with and/or be friends with people she does not like (or get along with).
Thinking logically, we, as adults have to be respectful to people, but do not have to socialise (by choice) with people we do not like. Forced business socialising is a different story, but that's where the respect everyone comes in.
Why would we enforce a different set of standards on our children?
At the end of the day, Tertia, you have no choice in this. Reinforce the 'being nice' issue, but your kids will choose their own friends, and there isn't much you can do about it.

I was just explaining to someone today that we do not have to be friends with everyone, but being friendly is a respectful choice. If all else fails, try to be respectful. That is what I strive to model and teach our young one. Not always easy.

LOL! I have the same issue, my daughter does not suffer fools easily, no matter what age they come in, a bit like her mother on this front! However, consideration and respect are important lessons. Kate does put up with her brothers so she does know something about patience and tolerance. Nice is an awful word - but it describes best how we should act towards other to whom we are not naturally attracted. Little girls can be careless with each others feelings, so use Kates bruised feelings as a learning experience, if and when it happens to her. Just wait! It does get better and worse as they grow older. Mine is 10 and is the best of friends and worst of enemies all rolled into one. At the end of the day they create the world that they socialise in and only learn to pave the way with experience.

She perhaps need a friend that is stronger than her, maybe to get what it feels like to be the one that must live up to expectations. Good luck with finding that though. Also perhaps a week or so later she may have "conquered" the friend, who knows. I'm sure she'll be just fine, there's a lot of sensitivity going around and she's bright enough to pick up on it as she grows up. Alternatively perhaps she can just go into politics or become a CEO or something.

I think its sad that 'special needs' kids are seen in what they can't do - in that they aren't as clever, as fast or as strong. What about trying to see special qualities in everyone whether they are our friends or not, whether they have special needs or not. If I was that Mother I wouldn't want kids to play with my child because they felt sorry for him, but rather because they saw somne of the special qualities my child has.
Why don't you tell Kate what you think is special about her and then ask her what she thinks is special about other people she knows. You could give her lots of examples so she gets the idea.
Then you could draw her in by something like so-and-so loves playing in the sand. You have a good imagination - maybe you could build something in the sand togther. Or so-and-so loves folowing you and wants to be included. You are a good leader, why don't you make her part of your game? A good leader includes everyone.
You can't force kids to be friends, but sometimes if they recognise they are more the same than different friendships can develop.

I think conversations like that, as ineffective as it SEEMED - is so important. I was similar to Kate when I was a child - never really considered that other people have FEELINGS that I might hurt. Keep talking to her. You can't force her to be friends with someone, but you can encourage her to be sensitive to other people's feelings.

Even if it seems like she's not listening, I'll bet you she is. If she's like the way I was? It's just something you have to keep saying over and over and over. And over.


I love what Katie said.

Also, I wouldn't go out of your way to make playdates with kids she doesn't particularly like, but if they are thrown together at a party or whatever, THEN she must be taught to be nice and inclusive.

It is funny, my daughter is in some ways the opposite of Kate, but in some ways she has the same problem. She is so sensitive herself, so anxious, and shy that she has trouble reaching out to other kids who are the same way.

I think the important thing is to teach kids to look for the best in everyone, so even if someone can't run really fast, maybe they are really fun when they play board games, or they have a good imagination for playing pretend, or something like that. And it's important to teach compassion from a young age, so it's more about, we're all different and no one's perfect but we're all special in our own way. I think if a child learns to looks for the best in people from a young age, that is such a wonderful skill that will make them happier and more successful adults.

I think, developmentally, that 5 is about the age the ability put yourself in another's shoes shows up. So this is the perfect time to talk about it.

I agree with the others. Kate needs to know that she's responsible for the way she treats other people, but she certainly doesn't have to be great friends with everyone.

It occurs to me that this is almost the same as your question about the woman driving her moms' group crazy. :) Social interactions are tricky.

FWIW, at our house the general rule is that we may not deliberately exclude someone else (e.g. "You can't play with me" "This game is only for girls" etc.) but we also don't have to modify our play to make others happy. In other words, if you're having a bike race and someone else wants to draw with sidewalk chalk, it's OK to say "we're racing bikes now -- you can draw over there" and continue what you're doing.

Don't know if that helps at all ...

I think you can be nice to others, but you can not force a friendship. My daughter is just like Kate, she plays with whoever comes along, especially the ones that climb monkey bars with her. :)
As for the puppy vs fish, I say puppy. You don't know how many fish we had to replace when the kids were little, so they would not know the fish have gone to fish heaven.

Delurking after forever because this has been such a rough issue for me. My daughter is just 4 and super intense. And sometimes it has been really rough for her with other kids because they just get tired of her rules and wanting things just her way. So I have been both trying to help her learn to be sensitive to other kids and make sure she doesn't end up being excluded because she can be difficult. What has helped enormously, is setting up play opportunities that play to her strengths and let her have successful interactions with other kids to build a friendship on. And I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it when other moms make the effort to help me with that. And it sounds like that is exactly what you are doing with Kate which is lovely, and I think will give her the space to grow to understand that she can have lots of different friendships based on lots of things with lots of people.

I'm assuming here that you want to encourage Kate to be more compassionate, which i think the world needs more of. As a compassionate child she will automatically see those kids who are lacking somewhere. Be their eyes if their vision is poor or be their legs if theirs don't work well.

I had a little girl in my kindergarten class who was just brought into foster care. She grew up in the woods with hardly any human contact. She could barely talk and didn't know how to do anything others her age could.I introduced her to the class and told the other kids that she needed help and lots of friends. Then asked for volunteers to help her and be her friend and several raised their hands , but one little girl stood out.

I would describe this little girl as my classroom little mama. She insisted that new girl sit by her so she could help her with her classwork.And she finished her work extra fast in order to help Emily.She figured out what Emily was trying to say even tho it was all baby talk.Took her to the potty throughout the day,help with her clothes.Then she went the extra mile teaching her how to use a fork in the lunch room.There were other kids who took over other things as well,so i basically stayed on track with the whole class with the aid of my little helpers.

I spoke to my little mama's mama after school and asked how her kid came to be so sweet and she said she guessed it was from her elderly grandmother who they visit often in the nursing home.

I guess what i'm trying to say is it's not about making your kid be friends with the not so popular kid, but encouraging them to care enough to "want" to be their friend.

My daughter is the same too, except she's 10 years old now. When she was in preschool, I told her she had to play with everyone. As she got older, we've gone with the, "You don't have to like everyone, but you have to be nice to everyone." And now at 10, when being sarcastic at home and making comments about certain people at school, we're going with the, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all." saying. She's quiet a lot, LOL. She's a good kid, but just like you said about your daughter, she does not suffer fools.

I felt so bad for the poor thing tonight though. She's very worried that a girl she does not like (because she's mean, so that's understandable) may be trying to steal away her best friend. I told her that wouldn't happen. Her best friend is so nice and such a good friend she cannot be stolen.

Classic, this had me giggling at my computer, Kate is such a Diva.

I prefer my child being kind and respectful to anyone. I don't want to force her socializing with the kids he/she doesn't like. you should go for the fish.

The friend issue with kids is huge. And potential for pain when our kids' have broken hearts or hurt others.
Kindness, compassion and confidence have always been my main goals with my kids.
Kate will find that one on one when she is older, fortunately Daniel and Becks both have BFs with the opposite sex which takes away much of the probs.
We love our Katie, she is hilarious!

I don't force my boys to play with people they don't want to, but sometimes they do need to play with the children they are around even if that wouldn't be their first preference (for example ... at church or the same-age siblings of their brother's friend on whole-family playdates) and they definitely need to be kind and considerate no matter whom they are playing with and whether or not they love them to death.

We have a Family Rule that goes: Gentle, Careful, Kind. It especially applies to how we interact with each other in our immediate family, but we often remind them of it when we are with friends as well. I want them to be mindful of these things as much as possible, within the "confines" of their ages and developmental abilities ... we don't expect our 4 year old to have the same level of self-control as his 8 year old brother. Anyways ... you get the picture. =)

A girl like Kate will probably go up to be an extroverted networker. I think it is great to let her flex this skill, but to gently show her compassion along the way. What a powerful combination! It reminds me of you actually. :) My son is 5 and is a bit similar, but does get sentimental about some friends. It is hard to try and tell them to play more with one kid over another. I think that a general feeling of empathy towards others (as she grows) will lend itself to naturally spending time with those who would best benefit from her positive energy. Not sure if that makes sense...

I have a toddler but nice post :)


Wow. I have a ten year old version of Kate. I go with Heather's saying...they just have to be nice. And really? It's gotta be tough, I mean they ARE stuck with these same kids, day after day in a small place. If someones a brat even the most patient kid is going to lose it with them after a while..they're still human.

Wow - so glad you posted this. My little girl is much more like Adam, very sensitive. I've been trying to work with her and explain that her friends who are more like your Kate aren't trying to be rude or mean b/c they don't want to play with her at a particular moment, b/c they want to hang out with a different friend, etc. - that those friends just have a different personality and style of being friends. I do want to teach her that each individual is different and we have to be graceful and kind (and not paranoid that our friends hate us) with those differences.

All the sensible answers have already been posted so I won't add. But - oh my life - you could have been describing my daughter. The whole tomboy/social/confident thing - identical. She's only 5 months younger than Kate.... so if you're ever in France (you never know), look us up and they can swap cowboy outfits and tips on how not to get their mothers ever to dress them in anything pastel & girly : )

PS: Loved the photos of her & Adam from a while back.

No good advice but I genuinely LOLed at the Chowder quote! We are big Chowder fans in my house and spend quite a lot of time repeating it to each other.

Rada rada rada.

I always love your articles. They are great. I must day Kate is ok. I mean there is nothing bad in being friends with everyone.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufgy3yLebnA Being sensitive might hurt you. And better get her a fish. Feeding it and taking care might bring in some affection and closeness within her. Love all three of your kids.

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