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Monday 25 September 2023 Dublin: 14°C
# parents panel
Parents Panel: How long did it take your child to make their first friend?
We asked our panel when their little ones went from playing beside other kids to playing *with* them.


AS PART OF’s weekly Family Magazine, we wanted to create a space for parents to share their views. A place where mums and dads could share their experiences, lessons learned, and even mistakes along the way. 

Interacting with other children is important at every age for building communication and social skills. Real friendships generally don’t begin until a couple of years in, but every child moves at a different pace and has different amounts of exposure to other kids in their early years.

This week we’re asking…

How long did it take your child to make their first friend?

Here’s what they had to say…

Parents Panel All 7 - Copy Top L-R: Olly Keegan, Alan Dooley, Denise, Ken Hyland. Middle L-R: Ríona Flood, Ross Boxshall, Marta Lisiecka, Denise Cumiskey. Bottom L-R: Kait Quinn, Susannah O’Brien, Derek McInerney, Suzie Kelly

He’s two and he’s smitten: Charlie, almost two, has a little group of buddies in the neighborhood that he really likes. They tend to play beside each other rather than with each other, but he gets really excited when he first sees them at the door or at the park. He doesn’t say many names yet but after meeting a friend’s daughter recently, he won’t stop talking about Baby Emma. He’s really smitten!

- Kait Quinn 

She made her first friend at 15 months: One summer Ellie Mae kept shouting across the road at a wee boy, a few months older than her, playing in his own garden, He started coming over to play with her and they have been friends ever since. As they were both very young they had very limited speech but still managed to play together and understand each other. Right now she loves playing with “the bad boys” as she calls them, at preschool. I hope it’s not a sign of things to come.

- Denise Cumiskey 

shutterstock_794064370 Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images / Monkey Business Images

In primary school, it depends who is in your class: Our kids went to creche as soon as my wife’s maternity leave finished, so they learned quite quickly how to interact with other kids. Now they’re in primary school, and we notice that new friendships form quite quickly. It really depends on whether the friend is in the same class or not. The longer lasting friendships have tended to be neighbourhood kids.  

- Alan Dooley 

One has plenty of pals, one has no interest: Both my children are taken care of in our home and I think this is a factor in my response. My first born is four now and consistently asks to meet up with her friends. She loves company. My almost three year old son still has absolutely no interest in other children. He plays with his older sister but isn’t too pushed yet about interacting in a constructive way with other children.

- Denise 

shutterstock_660865507 Shutterstock / Anna Nahabed Shutterstock / Anna Nahabed / Anna Nahabed

He started calling kids his “best friends” aged two: Our son likes to get on with everyone and works on a natural assumption that everyone is his friend unless proven otherwise! When he was about two, he began to talk about other children in creche being his “best friends”. Now he’s three, and there is a core group of about five children that he has been pally with for over a year.

- Olly Keegan 

She was still almost a baby: Our eldest, now nine, developed her first friendship whilst almost a baby, with a girl in crèche. Whilst they have spent most of their lives apart since then and we have moved home and our circumstances are much different, they are still friends (BFFs) and get together once or twice a year and it’s like they were never apart.

- Ross Boxshall

She was “chatting” away at eight months: Cliodhna is a very social baby. At eight months, herself and another little fella used to sit in bouncers facing each other and could ‘talk’ away for twenty minutes at a time in their own little baby language – it was incredible to witness.

- Riona Flood 

shutterstock_731837587 Shutterstock / Zaitsava Olga Shutterstock / Zaitsava Olga / Zaitsava Olga

He started really interacting when he turned two: Tymek is now 2.5. It’s only in the last few months that he’s started “playing with” instead of alongside children his own age. I can see that it’s definitely easier for him to bond with older kids though, he has a lovely relationship with his six-year-old cousin who he sees at his minder’s regularly.

- Marta Lisiecka 

They had it sussed before preschool started: Daniel was a naturally outgoing kid and would walk up to kids on the playground and just interact and play with them. Nathan, being the little brother, followed Daniel’s lead. By the time they went into preschool they had no problems making friends.

- Ken Hyland

Fancy winning a €160 voucher to spend on the new-in autumn kids’ clothing range at Aldi? Enter right here – and don’t forget to subscribe to our Family Magazine newsletter below for more updates.

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