You can play a few easy games to help your child feel comfortable with new friends. You’ve seen your preschooler’s face when he walks into a room full of new kids. His eyes get wide and he might hide behind your leg as the shyness takes over. Meeting new friends is often a scary time for young children.
Whether they’re meeting new children at preschool, daycare or a playgroup, kids may feel overwhelmed and unsure of themselves. Playing a few easy games or singing songs together can help your child feel more comfortable with his new friends.
Explain Ahead of Time
Before you go to the gathering, explain to your daughter ahead of time what you are doing. If you’re going to a birthday party, say, “We are going to Jane’s birthday party soon. We’ll play games, open presents and have some cake. It will be lots of fun.” If you’re going to a playgroup, you can say, “We’re going to Mrs. Sue’s house to meet some new friends. We’ll play some fun games with them.”
If your son is under 18 months, keep in mind that he probably does best playing alongside other kids and not necessarily with them. Don’t expect too much interaction when you introduce him to other toddlers. With that in mind, smaller groups work best for kids under three. That doesn’t mean he can’t play games with other kids, but he’s more likely to go back to playing by himself when the games are done. Once your son is 3-years-old, he will be more comfortable playing with other kids.
When you get to the gathering, introduce your daughter to a few other kids. Try to make a comment about something the other child is wearing or doing. You can say something such as, “That’s a cute dress” or “Look at Mary stacking her blocks.” Children love to copy what their parents are doing, so your daughter is more likely to start interacting with a new friend after seeing your lead.
A great ice breaker for young kids is “Duck, Duck Goose.” You can help preschoolers learn each others’ names with a slight variation. A child can tap each child on the head and say the child’s name. When the child taps a child on the head and then says the name of the group — it could be a preschool group, a church or a community organization — then the person who was tapped becomes “it” and he must jump up and chase the first person around the circle, hoping to tag him.
Another way to introduce kids is to make a statement and have them find the person who fits that statement. For example, you might say, “Find someone who has the same color shirt as you“ or “Find someone who has the same color hair as you.” “Simon Says,” “Red Light, Green Light,” and “Mother May I?” are also all fun games for young kids to play.
Young kids love singing songs, especially those with motions. Good ones for toddlers are “The Wheels on the Bus” or “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Here are a couple other ideas to help preschoolers learn each other’s names.
Buzzy, buzzy baby bee,
Won’t you say your name for me? (An adult points to a child in the group.)
(Child says name)
Good morning, (child’s name)!
I’m so glad you’re here with us.
(Repeat with other kids)
Stand up (say a child’s name here), stand up (same child’s name)
Turn around, turn around
Reach up to the sky high
Reach down, touch the ground
Sit back down, sit back down
Sing hello to (child’s name), (child’s name), (child’s name)
Sing hello to (child’s name)