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Making Friends at Preschool

Helping Your Preschooler Foster Friendships

When your child was a baby, his "friends" were most likely the children of your friends or babies in his playgroup (a classic case of proximity yielding friendship). Children don't start choosing their friends until they are at least 2 1/2 years old -- prior to that, kids are probably having trouble understanding themselves, let alone figuring out another toddler.

Once your child starts making friendly overtures toward a boy in his daycare or the girl he sees most afternoons at the park, help him foster that burgeoning friendship, suggests Janis Keyser, co-author of "Becoming the Parent You Want to Be." Introduce yourself to the parent and set up a playdate. (Keep in mind, should your children hit it off, this parent is going to be a part of your life as well.)

Your child's temperament affects the way she plays with others, the kind of friendships she makes and the time it takes to develop them, and the children she chooses as friends, notes Keyser. You can help her interact socially but don't try to make her someone she's not. You might need to give your gregarious toddler pointers on how to not overwhelm potential buddies, while parents of more reserved children can provide low-key, smaller settings for their children to interact in.

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