One thing that worries me in Anna is her reluctance in playing with peers, especially with girls. I observed this many times – she will rather give up her playthings to another child in group situations than play together. Sometimes I think that it’s because she is an only child and not used to sharing her space. She is not shy – she has no problem marching up to a wading pool in our pool complex and telling a group of children playing inside, Hey! Get out right now! It’s my turn! It’s difficult to admit, but she is just… not a friendly child when her peers are concerned. She has no friends in her current preschool, and I think this is a root cause of her unhappiness. When she had a friend, she was quite willing to go and talked a lot more at home about what they did in school. The funny part is that other kids really like her, especially boys. However, when they try to engage her, she tells them in no uncertain terms to go away. I am concerned enough to start role playing at home with Lego people and other toys on the subject of making friends. In one of our games all the toys went away and played together, when Anna’s character told them that she doesn’t want to be their friend, because “they are not listening”. This seems to rattle her a bit, and we played scenarios when Anna’s character would approach other dolls and ask to join their game with different outcomes – she was accepted or not. We talked a little about what to do when she is not accepted – like looking for another activity or talking to the teacher, if someone is “mean”. I would really like to see her taking more risks in reaching out, but it doesn’t help that some of her playmates at school are not verbal yet. She is definitely not a “motherly type” and doesn’t want to play with younger kids. She always gravitates to the oldest kids in the group. When she finally got to that wading pool, she splashed separately for a while and observing others, then she started talking to the oldest boy in the group:
Anna: What is your name?
Boy: Tells her his name
Anna: Look, I can feel water coming into the pool here (she was standing in front of a pool jet). How old are you?
Boy: I am five. I am going to school this year. How old are you?
Anna (without batting an eye): I am seven.
Boy: Really? I have never seen anyone so small who is seven.
Anna: But I am seven! I am going to kindergarten already!
Me: Umm… Anna!
Anna: Bye-bye, I must go now!
Little stinker! She wouldn’t even stop at making up stuff to impress older boys! I so hope that she will make friends at her new school and learn how to initiate a relationship. She has plenty of chances to learn this important skill, and I will keep trying to get her to open up.