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How can I help my child with rejection?

My daughter is 4 and has not attended preschool but goes to daycare (in-home) one day a week. She is outgoing and loves to meet new friends.

Sometimes when we are at public places where kids have play areas (mall, bounce house places) she gets excited to see other girls around her age and wants to engage in play.

There are times though when the other little girl does not want to play with her or sometimes there are two that are engaged in play and do not want to include my daughter. She then comes to me and says, "Mommy, they dont want to play with me." How do I handle this? I feel bad and try to get them to play but am unsucessful.

Heather | Expert


First, don't feel too upset that some kids don't want to play. Every kid is different and it just might be that the girls your daughter is approaching are shy. There is also a lot of stranger danger out there too, and parents do instruct their children to not talk to strangers. Perhaps it is that advice that the other children are relying on.

To try to get the other kids to play with her will also escalate their choice in not wanting to play with her. Kids can also be stubborn and independent. Some kids don't like being told what to do and they sometimes need to feel like they are the ones with an idea, and not have that idea come from a grown-up.

A couple of summers ago, my family attended a wedding and the reception was at a golf course. My son (age 10) saw a pretty girl at the wedding and wanted to ask her to dance with him in the clubhouse. I told him that he could go and do that. It was tough, but my husband and I watched him walk across the green with his hands in his pockets and approach her. She was with a friend. I saw him ask, and then he stalked off angry and the two girls snickered to each other. When he told me that she said, "No." I told him to follow me. I walked across the green with him close at my heels. We got within earshot of the girls and I said to my son, "Young man, you are the most handsome boy here and you look like you would be a good dancer. Would you like to go to the clubhouse and have a dance with me?" He said, "Sure!"

So we walked across the green hand in hand, went into the building, and then danced. As we were walking to the building, though, I glanced back a few times and saw the girls following. As we danced, the girls stood at the edge of the dance floor watching him. When the song was done, he asked a girl standing next to them to dance and that girl said, "Yes." They danced the next few songs together while the original two just stood there with looks on their faces like they wished they were the ones dancing with him. That night, the girls learned to take a chance on a boy, and my son learned to not give up because there are other girls out there.

I tell you this because sometimes telling children they must do something or should do something, they might pull back. Now if you were to make your daughter look like she was cool and you did something with her and engage her in an activity, the other kids might get curious and be more likely to join in the fun. Sometimes an invitation delivered in a different way will open that door into the other kids' hearts.

As far as her schooling goes; day cares are nice, but I think you should consider preschool for her. She will have a more structured setting that will prep her for school. She will learn routines and very important academics that will prep her for kindergarten. This day and age it is expected that the kids know their alphabet and pretty much have the ball rolling on reading. Preschool is great in teaching her how to invite other kids to play with her, and also give her a chance to experience different personalities to become friends with. Some public schools are even offering preschool for free. I hope preschool is on your radar for next year. I found it to be invaluable for my kids.

Good luck! And don't worry. There will be plenty of time for her to make friends as she grows up and her set of friends will change like the wind as she walks through the different grades in her childhood.

Read more answers by Heather