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Is it normal that a five-year-old is dependent on a classmate?
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My daughter is very shy and typically quiet in class but she does have a couple of friends, including a girl called Laura. When Laura is at school my child is interested in what's going on and engages with others, but when she is absent my child becomes moody, unresponsive, and doesn't do her work. It's like my daughter is dependent on her. Their teacher has spoken to me because it's become something of a problem. I feel like she might have a social problem, but maybe she's just shy? Does anyone have a similar experience with a child?
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Comments (5)
Being "just (sic) shy" IS in fact a social problem if it persists, but she's only 5. There's not much point in a teacher pointing out what she sees as a problem without suggesting possible solutions or suggesting who else you could consult.

If I were you, I'd talk to your daughter with you own "I" statements: as in "I'm wondering if you're finding it difficult at school when Laura isn't there?" And then WAIT for the response, maybe the next day if necessary and LISTEN without interruption to her response.

Is she OK elsewhere than school? Maybe there's something going on there where she needs support: shy kids are often bullied.
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She is only 5 and maybe have a social problem but also may just be shy and might grow out of as she gets older. I was horribly shy as a kid but grew out of it as I got older. If your concerned talk to your kid or wait it out see what happens. Just remember to watch out for signs if she does have social problem as she gets older like not growing out of her shyness.
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Good post, but the mother also has to LISTEN to her daughter, not just talk to her! And be patient, because kids (just like a lot of adults) don't have the words to describe their feelings.
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Get her into telling you stories, telling you about her day etc. Ask her questions that aren't just yes/no. Reward her by giving her your undivided attention, and taking a genuine interest in what she has to say—too many parents don't realize how valuable that is to a kid.

That should make speaking to others less intimidating to her.
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The shyness isn't really much of a problem at that age. What should be the issue is that she is not doing her work unless her friend is around.

She needs to be taught that when it's time to do her work, it is time to do her work and that her doing her work is not conditional on whether or not she gets to see her friend.

My suggestion, as someone who works with elementary students (I work in SpEd though) is that you can organize regular play dates with Laura. Get her on a "star" system where everyday she completes her work, with or without Laura, she gets a "star" sent home in a small communication book with the teacher. Make sure she knows when the play dates are (put it on a calendar where she can see it) and set an allotment for how many stars she needs to be able to participate in the play date.

Remind her every day of how many stars she has, how many she still needs, and how many she will earn between today and the play date if she continues doing well. If she misses a star every now and then, give a bit of room for error and afford her the opportunity to earn extra stars via chores or whatever. It doesn't have to be a play date, it can be any incentive just so long as she knows how to earn it and why she did or didn't earn it.

It sounds tedious but I have found visual reinforcements to be effective. I'm not saying do this for the rest of her life, but when the next grade rolls along, tell her that she's a big girl now and you don't think she needs the charts anymore and if she can't handle it then rethink your strategy.
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