Pop-Ins Schoolhouse

9083 West Peakview Drive 80123 Littleton, CO
Phone: 303-979-0094
Pop-ins Creative School House







Depending on your child’s age and adaptability, there can be a difference between the way 3 year old’s make friends and 4 year olds handle these new acquaintances.  Usually by these ages children have been encouraged to mix with other children at playgroups, kinder or child care facilities.  Some will have a clear idea of who they play with and their friends names, others may not have formed close relationships yet and not know their names.   Then you have the difference between children who love being with others and can dive right into a play situation or children who get overwhelmed and prefer to take it slowly or play alone.

There is no doubt that children can be encouraged and slowly taught skills to help them integrate and become more comfortable with new friends.   Certain skills like sharing, taking turns, listening to others' needs and managing their feelings during disagreements can be taught by example in the home as well as conversations through puppet play and storytelling.  At first it would help to observe and be around for the first few playdates to monitor your child’s temperament and needs.

Here are a few tips to help your child through this learning experience:

  1. Use everyday family situations to teach them how to be a good friend.   Eg. If your child plays with a sibling, and they both want to play with the same toy.   You could mention - “It was great that you both spoke to each other and listened to each other about the toy.   Perhaps you can each take a turn playing with the toy and each make up a different story for the toy.”
  2. Family mealtime is a wonderful time to teach talking and listening skills.   Encourage your child to talk about his day and then let him listen to your story of your day.   This is a great way to role model these skills.
  3. Board game time is a good way to incorporate the skills of losing and winning graciously.
  4. While working on these skills it’s always helpful to arrange playdates or playgroups at the library, or at a friend's house.    Starting with just one friend at a time, especially if your child is a little shy or slow to warm up.
  5. Park time is a great way to get the kids out and in the open while interacting with their buddies in a neutral situation away from their special toys.
  6. When you have a child over to play offer them two choices of toys to play with and let them decide together which they will play with.   You can then say “ well done for choosing a game together”
  7. Put your child’s special toys away thus avoiding conflict right up front.
  8. Stay close but in the background so that any conflict can be quickly adjusted.   If rough and tumble gets too roudy you will have to step in.
  9. Set a time limit for the playdate.   When children get tired they often find it harder to cooperate.
  10. Break their playtime with healthy snacks and drinks.


Playing solo is usually nothing to worry about. In fact, you’ll often see two children playing alongside each other, each doing their own thing. That’s because children at this age are still learning how to play together.
But if your child seems unsure of how to join in play and is consistently left out by other children, or often doesn’t want to play with others, there are things you can do to help:

  1. Encourage your child to watch what others are doing so they can work out how to join in. eg. What game do you think Jane is playing?  Perhaps she’s washing her doggie and brushing his fur”  Maybe you can help her by washing the other doggie for her.
  2. Talk about ways your child could start a game and invite others to join. eg. “Can you help me dig a road for this car to drive on? Can you see if anyone else can find the cars to make another road?”
  3. Very often, kids will tell others “You can’t play with us” or “you’re not my friend”.  Some children can easily shake this off and move onto another group, others will be very distressed.   Listen to your child and ask him questions about the incident.   Explaining to your child that sometimes children don’t all get along and they can move on to another group of friends.   If your child is distressed and has repeatedly had a problem with a friend or group of friends, it’s always advisable to talk to the teacher and make them aware to keep an eye on the situation.  In these circumstances, invite a new friendship to develop and ease your child into another group of friends by inviting that child to a playdate or your home.  This may also help your child to develop larger circles of friends.


Respect the child's chemistry. Let’s face it, sometimes two people just don’t enjoy each other. Children’s personalities, energy levels and interests can differ,  making it difficult for an enjoyable friendship to grow. If after a few playdates it appears the friendship isn’t enjoyable, don’t push it.

Starting school is one of the biggest times in a child’s life to make new friends.  For some children making friends is very difficult, this may be because they are afraid of approaching other children or struggle with social cues. Some children will confidently walk into their new classroom but for others, it is an overwhelming experience. They may hang around the doorway too shy to enter. It can be hard for these children to make new friends because of their fears. These fears are real and I hope you will find these books helpful in supporting your students.


Be a Friend  – by Salina Yoon



Be Kind - by Pat Zietlow Miller  (Author), Jen Hill  (Illustrator)