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Almost 4 year old only child not interested in friends, should I be concerned? - Page 2

post #21 of 57
Thread Starter 

This has turned into quite the debate:)  Anyways, we are undecided about which schooling option we will go with.  Both DH and I would like to homeschool, but also think that financially we would be better off if we both have careers.  I know it is possible to do both, but I'm not sure whether I'm up for that.  Ideally we will either homeschool or she will go to a charter school, or maybe Montessori (though I know we would be late to start).  

 

About the playdates, most of the ones we do are just a group of 2-5 moms, each with one or two kiddos in the infant to 4 year old age group.  We meet at parks, playgrounds and each other's houses.  I think it is definitely easier at the park or playground, however DD still rarely cares about playing with other kids and just wants to play with me or by herself there.  I feel bad going to other people's houses if I don't host as well, since they usually provide food etc.  I may just stick with the park/playground meet ups for the time being.  I am not really worried about DD, just curious whether this is an age thing or personality, and if I should be trying to encourage her to be more social.  

 

I was extremely shy around people I didn't know as a child, and wasn't very comfortable in group settings.  DD seems to be very similar, I just worry more since she is an only child and I had lots of siblings.  If we decide to homeschool I will pursue coops or homeschool groups.  DH is just finishing up his masters, so we anticipate moving soon and I'm not sure where that will be so it is hard to plan ahead.  

 

I am looking forward to four, I love watching kids open up at this stage and really blossom into individuals.  Thanks for all the great advice.

post #22 of 57

Ok Serenbat, you win.  I am too tired to debate you.

 

My only point was that playdates (and by playdates I mean the no pressure kind, not where they are worried about their stuff) can be beneficial in helping children learn to navigate interpersonal relationships.  Usually right around 4  to 5 years old they start actually wanting to play with kids their age. Of course, not everyone because you have to factor in if they are shy or introverted.  Anyway the op's dd is not even 4 yet so developmentally not really at the friend making stage.

 

I don't think it is absolutely necessary at this point for the OP to get together with other moms just for her daughter.  All my play dates benefit both me and my daughter. It sounds like it's not beneficial at this time for the OP and her daughter.  But for me, my daughter loved getting together with other moms and kids from about 3 years and up.  Serenbat, your opinions are valuable, but it sounds like you view play dates only as contrived, forced,stressful events.  The reason I am too tired to debate you is because you don't leave any room for another opinion.  I don't see where you are coming from because I know no one in real life who forces stressful play dates on their kids. As a parent, who would want to do that? Sheese that makes more work for the mom trying to discipline them.  And I know no one in real life who has grown up and been negatively impacted by playing with kids because their moms set it up.  I don't even remember who I played with at age 3, 4, and 5.  Regarding the issue of play dates and it being the parent choosing friends:  I see play dates as giving her an opportunity to make friends.  Can you accept another perspective?

 

I guess I had a little energy left for debate...lol

post #23 of 57

OP, just saw your last post.  You were wondering if you should encourage her to be more social.  I think your doing great just giving her opportunities to be social if she wants to.  Going to parks or gathering where she could begin to play with other kids if the opportunity is there, she may surprise you one day.

 

My daughter used to pinch the daylights out of kids who just sat too close next to her.  I dealt with it for 1 1/2 years.  I hardly took her to any play areas or playdates.  I was so sad and I thought she was going to be this horrible nasty mean child that no one would like.  I have past threads that I started about it.  Then right around 3 she came out of it and now she is great.  She didn't really start making friends at a park until about 4 1/2, and she is very extroverted.

 

I think your right on not to worry about her.  Her age and her personality are the key factors here.  Once she matures a little she might start playing with other kids.  She'll probably meet some kid that will just click with her and away she'll go.  I remember when that happened for the first time with mine and it was fun to watch.
 

post #24 of 57
Quote:
About the playdates, most of the ones we do are just a group of 2-5 moms, each with one or two kiddos in the infant to 4 year old age group.  We meet at parks, playgrounds and each other's houses.  I think it is definitely easier at the park or playground, however DD still rarely cares about playing with other kids and just wants to play with me or by herself there.  I feel bad going to other people's houses if I don't host as well, since they usually provide food etc.  I may just stick with the park/playground meet ups for the time being.  I am not really worried about DD, just curious whether this is an age thing or personality, and if I should be trying to encourage her to be more social.  

 

given your post-It seems like there can be a number of reasons your DD is not wanting this-the sheer number at your home (when you did have them over) would make some very social outgoing children not happy and the age just may not be a fit- you can certainly reciprocate food at another venue 

 

your idea of what is social and what she enjoys may always be two different things

 

you seem in-tune but still leaning towards your expectations - can you break from the circle of these friends and only do one on one with a child more in line age and personality of your?  

 

she may end up more shy or in the end she may just be not in the right situation - either way, your have lots of time

post #25 of 57
I'm not going to touch the debate, I'll just say that I don't see anything wrong with playdates provided they are low-pressure & fun (even if their version of 'fun' is different than ours and even if it doesn't involve actually playing with each other!) I have seen huge benefits to DS and his friends from having lots of playdates and we have a very active social life, despite the fact that my 3.5yo DS is a lot like your DD.

I would try doing consistent, regular playdates (every Thursday afternoon, for example) and keep it to only one other kid (or one other family). I would not be afraid to rotate houses, it's a learning process to share your own space, but if you'd prefer to stick to parks/playgrounds or the other person's house, I don't see anything wrong with that. Why not just offer to bring snack or lunch, so the 'burden' is shared more equally? (Also, we still do big group playdates because I want to stay in touch with my friends and it does help to see the other kids more often anyway. The one-on-one playdates are in addition to, not instead of, the group ones.)

Anyway, with DS and a few of his more anxious/shy/less social friends, doing very routine playdates has made a world of difference. It's such a difference to have time with just ONE other family, and to very consistently meet with them. The first few weeks they didn't just ignore each other but actively railed against each other (out of fear). Once they started getting used to the routine and to each other, they really relaxed and let their guards down and now they have such a great time & look forward to their weekly playdate. Also can help if you make the focus something besides just playing -- so maybe it's a lunch date (bonus if the kids can actually prepare the lunch themselves or set the table together), or a craft date, or maybe even a movie date -- something that will serve as a distraction from any pressure to 'play' which is such a vague term...

DS needs a looong time to warm up, especially if we are with more than 1 family (the bigger the group, the longer it takes him to feel comfortable). He often spends an entire group playdate sitting on my lap or eating. The more we do it regularly, the shorter the time he needs to warm up, but it still takes him so long that often he's just starting to play when all the other kids are leaving. I found that lingering for an extra hour or more with another mom or two who doesn't have a rushed schedule has allowed him to play way more than he would if it were just a standard 2 hour playdate.

Playing at the park with random kids does. not. happen. for DS. He is just way too anxious for that. He needs the predictability of knowing what to expect from the other kids so while I do still take him to just hang out at the playground, I know that he will play only with me while we're there (and usually want to leave if lots of other kids do show up).

DS has a best friend now. They play together so well, in a way I wasn't sure would ever be possible for him. And he has other friends who he plays well with too. It's pretty amazing to see the transformation, which may be part due to timing/development but mostly I think due to our consistency with getting together with the same people week after week.
Edited by crunchy_mommy - 8/24/12 at 6:24am
post #26 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbmomma View Post
 I am not really worried about DD, just curious whether this is an age thing or personality, and if I should be trying to encourage her to be more social.  

 

i would NOT encourage her to be social now. first she needs to feel safe in numbers. dont worry. you wont hurt her for good. give her the time to feel safe and confident. and then she will in her own time venture out. 

 

dd's best friend was this way. he finally joined soccer and became much more sociable in first grade. until then he only played with those he knew well. never in a park with lots of other kids. 

 

you can try once in a while, but back off if you find she is not ready yet. like crunchy's son, some kids do better with a couple of good friends. 

post #27 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by faithsstuff View Post

 

And just a note from personal experiance, I can't think of one really good behavour ds has picked up from playing with other kids his age or younger.  He learned to spit, play violently and tease from other kids his age.  I'd rather he play with us for a little while longer :)

 

I agree with this soooooo much! 

 

The idea that I need to expose my child to behavior that I find undesirable in some bizarre attempt to prepare her for coping with bad behaviors in adulthood is bizarre to me. As an adult, if I invited someone over and they were being rude, careless with my things, yelling at me, etc. I would ask them to leave not accept their behavior. If someone pushed, shoved, or hit me at work, I would file a complaint with human resources and the offender would be fired or otherwise reprimanded. I don't know where everyone else works but I've never in my twenty-something years of working ever been encouraged to put up with the kind of behaviors that children are taught to "deal" with in playgroups. 

I'm not saying that all children and/or playdates are like this. What I am saying is ... if your child is stressed out about the treatment of her things and having these playdates is upsetting or even in any way unpleasant or just not desirable for your child, what on earth is the point of subjecting her to that? There's no point to it now and has no advantage for her later. There is nothing about cooperation or teamwork that cannot be learned later on in childhood or from adults that makes the misery of putting your kid through this worth it. All it's going to teach her is that you will use your position of power as a parent to force her into things that have no clear point or desired outcome. 

 

I have an only child who is five now. She by far prefers adults to children. She isn't necessarily anti-playdate like the OP's child but she doesn't seek out long lasting friendships with other children either.

When I ask her why she replies that adults are nicer and have interesting things to say, but by far her most popular answer is they are CALM. It seems to me she enjoys interactions that are mutually respectful and mature and she has expressed that she doesn't feel that way often when having unstructured play with other kids her age.

 

OP- I think as long as your child is happy and learning and healthy, there is NO reason at all to force something she isn't interested in. Also, at only four years old, she might change her mind in a few months or years or however long and totally surprise you and that's completely ok. I homeschool my dd and I don't consider this a problem or issue at all. If you have other good reasons for school that's fine but please don't feel you have to send her just for "socializing". 

post #28 of 57
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by faithsstuff View Post

 

And just a note from personal experiance, I can't think of one really good behavour ds has picked up from playing with other kids his age or younger.  He learned to spit, play violently and tease from other kids his age.  I'd rather he play with us for a little while longer :)

 

I agree with this soooooo much! 

 

children really look at their authority figures (mainly the adults in their life) to seek expectable molding behaviors so I completely understand this too!

both mine have often questioned why the other parents do not say anything to their children when they do things like you have mentioned (speaking to them for spitting, etc)

 

 

 

Quote:
When I ask her why she replies that adults are nicer and have interesting things to say, but by far her most popular answer is they are CALM. It seems to me she enjoys interactions that are mutually respectful and mature and she has expressed that she doesn't feel that way often when having unstructured play with other kids her age.

my two are the same (and like interaction, when someone does not acknowledge them they are turned off-this behavior has been since birth)  and any time I have said roughly the same thing to others they just don't get it- your age group often in life is not who you desire for company- we tend to get this as adults but not for children

 

and some children do not feel comfortable around infants that cry (those who are not use to it) can be unset by this

post #29 of 57
Thread Starter 

Crunchy_Mommy, I like the idea of a more routine play date with just one other family, however making that happen has been tricky in the past.  Maybe once summer travel calms down we can make something happen.  

 

I guess I didn't mention that I do enjoy the adult interaction as well, however I think I need to branch out and make some friends with shared interests, instead of just moms.  We have moved around a lot in the past few years and will be moving again soon, so I haven't really had time to find my niche.  I don't really fit in with this group of moms, and DD doesn't seem to fit in well with the kiddos either, but I guess whenever DH finds a job that will all change anyways.

post #30 of 57
Quote:
so I haven't really had time to find my niche. 

 

 

a lot of people find what they need when they are not looking

 

if you do things on your own- for you ( a class- program even at a Y where she can stay in a provided child area even for just an hour-what ever) you might find those who do have more in common just with you

 

often the friends of our children are not our friends or even those we would want to be friends with and vise versa 

post #31 of 57

What I'm really seeing in this thread is how much a childs personality effects how we, as parents, answer this question.

 

 Ds wants to play with other kids, and we attend loosely structured playdates.  Our issue is that ds is just *differant* from alot of the other kids his age.  Our two closest family friends both have kids that are much more physically aggressive.  It s happens that both sets of parents believe in letting the kids work it out.  What it turns into is that my son is being beaten with a stick by another kid.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard 'it can't really bother him or he'd hit so-and-so back'.  That's how they parent, it's the parenting that works for their child.  Not for my child.  If other kids have to go through a stick beating stage cool, but I understand why ds doesn't like it. 

 

And it does damage to child to try to explain why so-and-so is still a good kid even though they beat other kids with sticks.  It's a strange scenario, I find having a boy who doesn't do alot of the 'oh that's how boys act' behavior is a gray area.  

post #32 of 57

Maybe my perspective on this is a little different. I think often parents want to see their young kids relating to, and becoming socialized, along with their peers. Many/most kids love to play with other kids in groups, but not all. Ruling out any disability, emotional or developmental problem (sometimes kids who can't hear well, or who have experienced severe trauma, or those with autism, don't want to make friends with other kids) I'd probably let her play with who she wants, and gently encourage her to play with cousins or the kids of your friends. But really, it is not friends and peers who are going to be the most important people in your child's life, over the course of her lifetime. It's not peers we live and interact with and love with our whole hearts- it's our family. Socializing her within your family prepares her for a life of living close within a family group, which for most adults, is the most important thing in the world.

post #33 of 57

A couple of posters mentioned that some play dates can result in their own kids learning negative behaviors, such as spitting.  Just wondering, are you avoiding most play situations for that reason?  Or maybe it's just one reason to avoid play dates? If my dd was around someone who was constantly aggressive(this did happen with one of my friends whose son was going through a pushing/tackling phase at 2.5 years) or rude/hurtful continually, then I would avoid play dates with that child for a while until the phase passed.

 

I see it from another angle though. By the way, I do remember thinking, "Oh Great, now dd is going to start kicking since she saw so n so kick."  However, it was an opportunity for me to teach her that feet are for walking, running, climbing, not for kicking people.  I see play dates as a spring board for conversation (now that she is older) to teach her the values that I want to instill.  Even when she was little, I could talk to her in a simple way about how so n so felt when her friend pushed her.  I have always focused a lot on other peoples emotions, faces, body language.  By pointing this out, I think she has grown into a person who can read others and have sympathy for others.

 

I would much rather it be me helping her navigate these negative things at age 3,4, and 5, so that, when she goes to school (or any kid event if you are homeschooling) she has some tools under her belt that I gave her.

 

Mine is extroverted, so I can't say for sure how I would handle it with a shy child.  I think low pressure, gentle opportunities for her to begin to play with others is reasonable.  And follow her lead.

post #34 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbmomma View Post

I know this is common for toddlers, but I thought this changed around 3-4.  DD really doesn't have an interest in friends.  She begs me not to have friends over for playdates because she doesn't want to share her things, and when we have them she spends the whole time anxious someone is going to touch something she doesn't want them to etc.  She likes going to playdates at other people's houses, but only so she can play with their toys.  We go to playgrounds all the time, and she has zero interest in playing with the other kids.  We have had lots of discussions about this and she always says, "I like playing with other kids, but I like playing with you and daddy more."  Today, after having a friend over for a playdate, she told me, "My friends aren't my friends, you and daddy are my friends".  

 

Responding to the OP.  I think you are raising my daughter!  I could have said these exact same words.  

 

For my dd, playgroups became pretty upsetting, and we just gave them up after many months of trying.  At parks, I would finally resign myself to moving to a different part of the park when kids showed up on the big toys.  Then, parks became a fun place to find playmates.  Now, 3 years later, at 7.5yo, she is really wanting to be with girls her own age. 

 

We are a bit "out of the loop" with all the area families as a result of dropping out of the playtime social scene, and that presents a bit of a hurdle for us as well as living pretty far out from any of the kids in gymnastics, but I am encouraged that she wants to have company now.  It has been a long journey.  I'm more than ready for the next leg.

post #35 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by mtbmomma View Post

Crunchy_Mommy, I like the idea of a more routine play date with just one other family, however making that happen has been tricky in the past.  Maybe once summer travel calms down we can make something happen.  

I guess I didn't mention that I do enjoy the adult interaction as well, however I think I need to branch out and make some friends with shared interests, instead of just moms.  We have moved around a lot in the past few years and will be moving again soon, so I haven't really had time to find my niche.  I don't really fit in with this group of moms, and DD doesn't seem to fit in well with the kiddos either, but I guess whenever DH finds a job that will all change anyways.

Yes, summer makes it hard, and it's even harder when you don't really fit with the group you're in. Your DD can probably sense that too -- that you're not entirely comfortable with this group of moms -- and it may be making it harder for her to feel comfortable. When you find the right group of kids/mamas, magical things can happen! So don't give up. smile.gif Took me a long long time to find my niche.
post #36 of 57
Quote:
I see it from another angle though. By the way, I do remember thinking, "Oh Great, now dd is going to start kicking since she saw so n so kick."  However, it was an opportunity for me to teach her that feet are for walking, running, climbing, not for kicking people. 

not everything in life (even at 3 or 4) is a good learning experience- there are time when behavior is clearly inappropriate, not healthy or warranted and my child does not need to be punching bag to learn a lesson

 

knowing as a parent when to be in a situation and when not to is the key

 

 

 

Quote:
Your DD can probably sense that too -- that you're not entirely comfortable with this group of moms -- and it may be making it harder for her to feel comfortable.

this is so true and often the case at this age

post #37 of 57
I don't think it is something to worry about yet, if she gets to five and still won't interact with children she knows well then I do think you should look for an underlying cause but at this point she may just be a little late at developing socially. For my dd it really happened overnight when she was.about three and a half. Even then she preferred playmates who wanted to talk a lot as they played games involving a lot of detail so the desire and ability was there but it was hard to find kids who were interested in having conversations.

A few things that helped make playdates fun and play focused were letting her put her toys she didn't want to share in my room. I kept some toys that were multiples aside for playdates and encouraged Lego play. When things looked bad I pulled out art supplies. When using the house was too much we used the park.
post #38 of 57
Thread Starter 

Sweetsilver, I think DD will likely be similar.  I think if we had more opportunities to play with older kids she would do that too, although she doesn't seem interested in older kids at the park.  Most of the time she just wants to play with me, and I am getting kind of tired of being the playmate all the time, especially since DH has been working 8 days on/6 days off, so I am single parenting every other week.  

 

Crunchy_mommy, I am really looking forward to finding a group where I fit in.  I actually had one when DD was little, but we moved from there when she turned one.  I am definitely ready to settle in one location so it seems worth the effort to make lasting friendships.  I am still friends with all those moms online, but that really isn't the same thing.  

 

One_Girl, you are probably right, DD is pretty advanced physically and mentally, but seems a bit behind socially and emotionally, which makes sense.  I'm sure things will eventually balance out.  

post #39 of 57
Quote:
Originally Posted by serenbat View Post

not everything in life (even at 3 or 4) is a good learning experience- there are time when behavior is clearly inappropriate, not healthy or warranted and my child does not need to be punching bag to learn a lesson

 

knowing as a parent when to be in a situation and when not to is the key

I am curious Serenbat, are you saying that you don't let your kids play with other kids at all so that they will never get kicked or spit at?   I want to make it clear that I don't agree with letting your kid get beat up for the sake of learning a lesson. 

 

I am saying that during the course of play, during play dates or on the play ground, stuff happens and I see it as an opportunity to help my daughter navigate through these big emotions that occur.  I don't have a crystal ball to tell me which kid is going to be mean so that I can avoid that kid.  I did leave a mall play land once when I noticed a boy biting others.  Again, I told my daughter why and used it as a learning tool.

 

I think I am misunderstanding your message because I seem to be the only one stirred up by your posts.

post #40 of 57
Is she an introvert? If she is, she may pick up on all the social cues but have no desire to have frequent interactions with other kids.
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