What to do when kids say “no one will play with me”

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

“No one will play with me.” When a child says this, you may not know what to do or say. The best place to start is to simply listen.

Play is as important to young kids as things like money and love are to adults. So when kids say “no one will play with me,” it probably feels like a really big deal to them. Try not to downplay it by saying something like “everything will be fine tomorrow.”

Use open-ended questions to learn more:

  • What made you feel like this today?
  • Who didn’t want to play with you?
  • Were there some kids you wanted to play with, but you didn’t get a chance?

Some kids may just have had a bad day and will feel better after a good night’s sleep. Others may feel like misfits or struggle in social situations. And in some cases, saying “no one will play with me” might be a sign of bullying or exclusion.

Once you understand what’s happening, you can come up with a plan.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Mark J. Griffin, PhD was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.