Children making friends and playing at nursery

Helping Your Child Make Friends at Nursery

Worried about how your little one will make friends at nursery? Whilst some children will naturally make friends at nursery, it is completely normal for others to need help making friends. 

Here are our tips for helping your child make friends at nursery and building skills that will help them with friendships in the future.


  • Teach your child social skills

Parents play an important role in the development of social abilities. When it comes to making new friends, your child might need some support as they are not fully equipped with the right social skills just yet. From simple conversation starters to learning to share toys, many of the necessary friendship skills can be learned at home with your help.


Conversation Starters

With more shy and anxious children, it might feel daunting for them to approach other children and ask them to play. An easy conversation starter to teach your child is to introduce themselves with their name. Encouraging them to ask what the other child’s name is can also help to spark conversation.

Another conversation starter could be surrounding what the children are playing. Encourage them to ask ‘what game are you playing?’, and hopefully the other children will show your child and invite him or her to join in.


Talking and Listening

Being able to listen to other children is a key part of making friendships. You can practise talking and listening skills by having conversations at home, perhaps round the dinner table. Showing an interest in what others are saying during everyday family life is an excellent model.

You can model these skills by asking your child open questions, such as ‘what did you find fun about today?’. After they have explained, you can continue to ask questions about what they are talking about. These conversational skills should help them to copy what you do in the social situations they face at nursery.



If your child has siblings, then this should be an easy skill to pick up. However, those who don’t might struggle to share with others as they haven’t had to before.

To help your child understand how to share, you can teach them to feel joy when they have shared something. For example, you can point out that sharing made someone feel really happy. Additionally, make a conscious effort to praise your child for sharing with you or others.


Managing disagreements and being remorseful

Not all friendships will be smooth sailing at nursery and at times disagreements are inevitable. However, teaching your child to deal with disagreements in a positive manner can help maintain their friendships, as children are usually willing to forgive their friends. 

Another tip is to practise winning and losing graciously during family activities, as your child won’t always win. Practising not only saying sorry to friends, but why they are sorry, can push children to more quickly resolve their disagreements. 


  • Organise playdates

Talk to your child about who they like to play with or who they would like to be friends with at nursery. Some children might look for their friends when they arrive at nursery or can name them. To further develop these friendships, speak to their parents and try to organise a time for them to come over and play. This is great if your child struggles in larger groups and would benefit from one on one time. 

When on the playdate, keep an eye on how it is going and try not to interfere in the friendship too much. Knowing you are there will be comforting to your child, however you can create more distance if you feel they are doing okay.

Children having playdate to make friends


  • Talk to the nursery staff

If your child expresses that they are still being left out at nursery, talk to the nursery staff. They will likely have more information on the matter and be able to intervene by asking the children to include your child. 

Nursery staff can encourage friendships by pairing children up for certain activities or making groups of children that your child wants to be friends with.


  • Parallel play

Parallel play is simply when your child plays individually alongside another child. This is not something to be concerned about, as it can take time for children to learn how to play together. 

Often the children are still interested in what the others are doing, so naturally, over time they should begin to play with each other. Nursery staff can assist by trying to encourage them to play their games together.


  • Be aware of your child’s preferences

While some children are natural social butterflies, every child is different. Some children are simply more introverted and enjoy being alone. They might prefer activities such as drawing by themselves or reading, which is perfectly fine. 

However, you should not neglect teaching your child social skills, as it is still important for your child to learn how to interact with others. As long as your child has one or two good friends, then there is no need to be worried.


Encouraging friendship at Maryam’s

Our staff are fully trained and have experience with helping children to form friendships. At the start of the day, children will engage in child initiated play. This is the perfect opportunity to make friendships as there are endless fun activities to do. 

Find out more about our approach to making new friends, or get in touch with us if you have any questions.