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Making New Friends

Q. My 4-year-old seems to have only one buddy at school. Should I try to help her find others?

A. Not necessarily  -- having just one friend is fine as long as your daughter's learning to get along with other kids too. "It isn't the number of friends you should be concerned about; it's the type of play she's engaging in," says Vickie Beck, a child psychotherapist at the University of Maryland Medical Center, in Baltimore. Most preschoolers should be shifting from the solitary "parallel play" of their toddler years  -- where two kids sit next to each other but play separately  -- to the interactive games they'll become more interested in as they get older.

Once your child starts playing with other kids, you'll probably notice that she makes and drops friends quite easily. For many not-yet-discerning tots, friendships take on a "love the one you're with" quality.

Still, if your daughter seems shy and you'd like to help her expand her circle of pals, try:

? setting up playdates with classmates

? getting together with your own friends who have kids the same age

? signing her up for an activity, such as gymnastics or an art class, where she'll meet kids with similar interests.

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