Hi, I'm new but I've reached a point with my son where I need advice.
My 5yo old boy is sweet, loving, intelligent and confident at home. In contrast, he becomes easily upset in situations away from the home. His preschool believes he is quietly confident, however, he does have anxiety in regards to things like going to preschool, being baby sat and going to his sports. He will get himself worked up prior to any of these things to the point he will shake then almost freeze in place.
At preschool he has two close friends, one whom a boy he has known since he was three months old and the other a girl he met at preschool last year. He plays beautifully with the little girl and, when playing with her, will sometimes happily let others join in. I am aware the boy is almost possesive of my son's attention and there has previously been issues at the preschool with the other boy telling children they cannot play with my son and calling the other children names. The preschool is also aware of this issue and have been trying to address it (separation is not possible as they will also attend the same school next year).
My issues is that my son is now choosing to exclude others from his play. I have been told that he will tell the other children 'no, I have enough friends already' or 'I don't like you' (these are the phrases the other boy uses too). I have recently heard him say these things myself and witnessed his behavior when others try to join in his play. When children ask him to play with them he either runs away or stares at his feet, ignoring them until they move on.
I have tried talking to him about how his behaviour could upset the other children and trying to get him to empathise with how the other children feel when he speaks or acts that way. We've talked about how you can never have too many friends and that the more friends you have the more games you will learn.
I don't want to force him to be friends with all the other children, I believe he has the right to choose who his friends are. I also don't want to increase his anxiety in social situations by forcing him to play with children he isn't comfortable playing with. I want him to know he has the ability to make these choices and, in doing so, help build his confidence. At the same time, I don't want him behaving in a way that is unkind to others. He can choose not to play with someone but he cannot choose to be mean to them.
Have you any suggestions?