My son is 4 and on the quiet side. He generally likes to play with girls more than boys, both in groups and individually. He doesn’t like rough play and most of the time he’s around boys that’s what the play turns into. I am concerned that this will be a problem for him when he enters school. I’m not sure whether he’ll be uncomfortable with the other boys or will kindergarten be different?


Dear Unsure,

How perfectly wonderful that your son is gentle and kind! You are lucky and so is he, in fact you are probably the envy of lots of other parents. The issue then is really in finding a match for him in school and play environments. Now is the time to school shop for next year. There are plenty of options out there so you should be able to find an environment where his strengths will be nurtured rather than asking him to conform to a group or school whose values and temperament are so different from his. Consider all your options, public schools, perhaps an inner district transfer, satellite and/or charter schools. Look for a school which values individuality, uniqueness and independent thinking. Ask about their playground policies and how the children are helped to resolve their differences. Take time to visit during both classroom and outdoor time so you can get a good feel for the “flavor” of the atmosphere. Do your very best to find the right match for your child both in his friends and school. Encourage him to be exactly who he is, and to follow his inner directives and bliss. Help him to find ways to protect himself internally and externally whenever he finds himself outside his comfort zone. Take lots of time for training at neutral moments, using role play to help him explore different techniques in removing himself and voicing his thoughts, feelings and needs. Try this approach in helping to speak up for himself with other children:

State the Problem: What the other person did that bothered/bugged him.

Have him tell how it made him feel.

Then say what he wants to happen the next time.

If these steps don’t work get an adult to help.

Most of all, teach him that he is a wonderful child who deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.