Friday 11 January 2019

My Child Likes To Play Alone.

When our children head off to nursery or school for the very first time we of course want them to have a great time. As parents we count down the minutes until we can go pick them up (despite wishing for five minutes peace for years before). We wait anxiously to hear all about how their day went, hoping they made new friends and had fun.

But what about when our children don't have that reaction, what about when they come home and tell you they played alone?

James has always been a social child, he loves making new friends and is pretty confident when it comes to meeting new people and making new friends. He has two best friends but if you were to ask him who his friends are in his class at school he would say everyone! He will float between groups of friends and different games and loves being around his friends, he is rarely alone and that's just how he likes it.

Evelyn however is completely different. Whilst she is happy, bubbly and enthusiastic she lacks confidence when it comes to making friends and really struggles in big groups. She much prefers to stick to one friend and often chooses a friend who is quite confident, that she can follow around and who can help guide her. She also prefers to play older children (perhaps because she has an older brother) and in nursery she rarely left her key workers side.

I'm not going to lie when she first started school it was something I worried about. I worried she would get lost in a class full of 30 children. That she would shy away from other children, choosing instead to stay with teachers or TA's and really struggle with making new friends. Then recently my fears were recognised, she began coming home telling us about her day and causally telling us how she had spent lunch time alone, my heart broke!

I hated the thought of her wandering around in the huge playground alone, whilst everyone around her ran, laughed and played with friends. I sat down with both her and her teacher and spoke about it and much to my surprise Evelyn wasn't sad like I had thought, not at all! She told me how she enjoyed playing alone and how she loved to climb and draw. How she had friends but didn't want to run around instead choosing to build a wall from the bricks or dress up in the home corner.

Of course I worried but the teacher reassured me that actually Evelyn seems to love school. She is able to work in a group and does have a few select friends but seems to enjoy playing alone or with her one friend she knows from nursery previously. The teacher reassured me that actually this is quite normal and children will switch between friends for a few years yet before they even begin to think about find "best friends" or friendship groups which definitely made me feel a little better.

As parents of course we always want the best for our children but sometimes I have to take a step back and remember that the best is actually what makes our child the happiest not what we think they should be doing.

But actually I have come to the conclusion that all my worries have been unfounded. Of course both myself and the teacher will keep an eye on her and make sure that she doesn't get excluded from the class etc. But the reality is Evelyn enjoys playing alone she is happy, content and actually that's ok! Ultimately I want her to enjoy school and her time there and if that means playing alone or playing in a group it really doesn't matter as long as she is happy.

It also most definitely have not taken away her sassy character and big cheesy smile. Right now she is a happy, caring and cheeky little girl who just likes to play alone. Its made me think do we put to much pressure on our children to make friends? Evelyn is only 4 and has her whole school like to make friends, learn and grow and that's ok with me!

Did you have any big worries when your children started school?



  1. This is so honest and insightful and I think it will put many parents at ease whose children like to play alone. Beautifully written too.

  2. I was the same with my daughter - in fact one of the TA's would speak to her and she would reply "I'm ok, I just want some me time' and we forget that they need time to wind down too. She is now 10 years old and although she still likes to have her me time, she has a lovely group of friends too.

  3. School is a big game changer and as a pre-school teacher I often see children that were once happy to play alone, develop some very solid friendships and start joining in with their peers

  4. My son is like that. He's a happy little soul and is genuinely happy playing on his own but I do worry about him missing out on friendships.

  5. I really wouldn't worry. I would say that she will end up being someone who is comfortable in her own skin and doesn't feel the need to follow the crowd. My son was exactly the same and he's 21 now. He's actually confident in his own ideas and it's served him very well to enjoy his own company. My daughter's who need lots of friends worry me a lot more now

  6. Such an open, honest article and really enjoyed reading it. Completely agree with you - it really doesn't matter as long as she's happy!

  7. I do not have any children myself, but I presume that this is all part of her becoming her own true self. I was a mixer, but everyone is different xx

  8. I have to say that I much preferred my own company when I was younger. I think it's a lot more common than we'd think. I try not to put too much pressure on my two to make friends but it also stings a bit when they come home and say they've sometimes been alone at school!

    Louise x