Resident teacher Emilie Blanton from Teaching Ain't for Heroes helps us navigate the difficult terrain of first friendships.
Q: When should I intervene if my child is having friend / social problems at school?
A: It happens. People stop being friends all the time. For kids, this can become an ongoing issue as they deal with the inability to escape their new Not Friend during the school day and the fact that children are inherently less socially developed than adults. Most of the time, adults don't handle this transition well, so it's inevitable that children navigating this social dilemma will have their own problems.
The best idea is to speak with the teacher before it becomes a classroom issue. If there already are problems going on in the classroom, contact the teacher as soon as possible. Try to use whatever mode of communication the teacher prefers, be it email, phone call, or a note in your child's folder. It's important to try to remain objective when you contact the teacher. It's hard to not be upset when your child is hurt, so planning ahead what you want to say is probably the best idea.
Oftentimes students have group work or work in partners and teachers can assign these groupings. Making a teacher aware of social issues isn't just to blame the other child, it really is important so a teacher doesn't unknowingly pair your child with their former best friend and current archenemy. While teachers can pick up on friendship cues, sometimes the dynamics change so quickly, it's hard to keep track.
At home, talk to your child and encourage them to make the teacher aware of things that make them upset or uncomfortable. This is a good time to go over the difference between tattling and actually needing an adult.
Remind your child that not everyone will want to be their friend and that's okay. They won't want to be everyone else's friend, either. Remind them of the other friends they have and the opportunities to have to make new friends.