Parenting K-6 Kids/6 year old girl


My 6 year old daughter has a strong willed, controlling, perfectionist, pessimistic personality, and is an introvert.  Of course there are many great things about her but I believe the combination of these traits cause difficulty for her.
I think she has social anxiety as well.  When we have a playdate she is very controlling over her toys or ideas and gets upset when friends don't play the way she wants to play.  She will sometimes raise her voice at her friends because she is easily frustrated with the way things go while playing.  Even though she begs for a playdate most often she will just shut the friend out and just play by herself and get mad if the friend tries to play with her.
When a friend is over I pace the hallway (out of sight) wondering when to intervene.
My daughter isn't allowed to treat my husband and I the way she treats her friends. We see such a sweet and precious side to her. We love to point out when she is being a kind friend and makes good choices. She adores her 8 year old brother and is so sweet to him. There is no threat (with other girls she feels threatened) with him so I think she feel fee with him.
She does have a friend that she has know since birth and when she is around her a lot these walls fall down and she is able to play "normally".
Once a month I have two other girls over and we have a little social group, I plan group activities and fun group projects. It is my attempt at a social group. She gets very emotional during these meetings, the littlest comment by a friend can make her cry.  Her walls are up and she feels threatened.
My daughter gets jealous easily too.  Please help me, I'm worried she will push potential friends away.
Have you seen this before? Will she grow out of this?  If so at what age?

Hi Jen,
It's not unusual for children six and younger to have some trouble with friends. Sharing and being able to understand empathy (putting oneself in another person's shoes) are learned concepts. Without being able to see her myself, it's difficult for me to understand how profound the issue is. The fact that she's fine with people she's known a long time but not with newer people does suggest that she has some form of social anxiety.

Children with social anxiety show fear in social settings such as play dates, family gatherings, religious events, childcare and preschool. The signs can include:

Few friends outside of family
Stomach or headaches
Difficulty sleeping
Excessive worry or fears

The first step in helping her is to understand what it feels like to be anxious and not belittle or shame her. You can offer support and encouragement to help her face her fears. Further, you can teach her to use words to articulate and help her understand her feelings. For example, asking her why she's crying and teaching her how to use her words to express frustration or whatever the feeling is. Having supervised play helps with this.

Depending on how much it limits her life (how does she do in school?), you may want to seek professional treatment where she can learn how to cope with anxiety and develop social skills.

However, many children eventually grow out of this behavior. But because it can hinder friendships and other children's perception of her, I encourage you to continue to help her learn social skills.

Leslie Truex, MSW  

Parenting K-6 Kids

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Leslie Truex


I am a parent of two, but also I'm a social worker with over 15 year experience working with children and families. I can provide many tips and techniques to help with child behavior, interventions for specific behavioral issues, ideas to help children through difficult times such as divorce or grief, hints on keeping the family running smoothly, and tips for developing confident, happy children.


I have a master's in social work and over 15 years experience working with children and families. I have worked in schools, public health, mental health and adoption agencies providing parent education courses and children's groups.

BA in Psychology and MSW.

©2017 All rights reserved.