Nearly broke my heart today. My daughter asked to go to a soft play centre, which is equivalent to hell for me. However, in an attempt to be a good mother, I said no problem, but I explained that we would be going on our own and wouldn’t know anyone there. She said she wasn’t bothered. Normally, she is a very confident social character. She hasn’t had any problems making friends at school and socializing with other children in familiar situations is a breeze for her. She’s far from shy and has a lot more social skills than her mother.
However, when we arrived at the soft play centre, she struggled to find anyone to play with. She attempted to go off and play but came back a bit deflated saying she felt lonely and no one would play with her. In my quest to develop her independence, I tried my best to sit back, playing on my IPAD and let her work it out. But…..
Our Attempt to solve it
At one point, I walked around with her holding her hand looking for a playmate but they were all running by so quickly. She tried a couple of times to say excuse me but they didn’t hear her. Bless!
Totally lost, I suggested finding someone playing on their own and introduce yourself and ask if they would like to play, but no luck. Then, I suggested that she find some children having fun and play near them and maybe they would ask her to join in. Bless she went and sat by herself in a play tunnel for ages and no one came by. It was so hard to watch.
In the end, I intervened again and luckily found two sisters, who were lovely and when I explained she didn’t have anyone to play with they swooped in and whisked her away. I had to drag her away in the end.
In reflection, it is rather an odd thing to go up to a complete stranger and ask to join in? As an adult walking up to people you don’t know and striking up conversation is the social equivalent of skydiving. So why do we expect children to do it so easily?
In future, what can I do to help her? Do you have any tips on how to help them make friends in these situations?