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At what age does socialization become really important?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

My DH and I both work from home and I worry that some days with all of the general daily tasks of being at home, that I don't make enough time for taking my 15 month old DD around other children.  We do interact with her a lot, she certainly doesn't ever want for attention (except when I'm cooking dinner, ALWAYS a meltdown then, what's up with that??!). I try to take her to the park at least 2-3 times a week, but even then the interaction is pretty minimal.  She gets out every day for errands with me, but should I make it a priority to schedule playdates, etc?

post #2 of 15
Hi there, I'm a SAHM so our days sound similar to yours. My son is 17 months and so far when we are around other kids he mainly does his own thing, but interacts when he wants their things ;-D. I think it's called parallel play in developmental paychology circles and totally normal at this age. Like you though, I do tend worry a little about these things too.

Whenever an opportunity arises, I make ourselves available to meet friends and their kids. It might be every 2 weeks that we have an offical play date. I also make an effort to chat to other mums with young kids that we see on the beach or out and about ....hoping that this will suffice as social interaction for him for now. :-D
post #3 of 15

I'm a SAHM of three, and my oldest two (age 2.5 and 4) just started interacting with each other, let alone other kids.  Look up developmental stages of toddlers and patterns of play.  


I have always felt that taking little ones on errand runs was the perfect way to introduce them to society.  How else will they learn to behave in the store/market/etc if they aren't given the chance to practice?  Your son is learning socialization by watching you interact with family, friends and strangers and soon he will be doing the same, but for now, what you're doing sounds totally fine. 


And yes, dinner, what is up with dinner meltdowns?! 

post #4 of 15
I'm a SAHM to 2 year old DD and recently she has started to become interested in other kids; I'd say around 22 months or so. Yes, she's still in the parallel play phase but she's learning about taking turns and says hi and seeks out other kids. At 15 months she couldn't have cared less. I try to make one outing a week indoors with likely kiddo population: library or literacy centre. The park is great but there's almost zero interaction there. We also do about a playdate a week - as much for me as for her wink1.gif. Around 15 months I simply tried for one opportunity a week to expose her to other kids.
post #5 of 15

18mo DD here - DH works 2 jobs, one F/T and one P/T (although the hours are full time for both bc his official F/T job is firefighter and it's 24 on, 72 off and no good would come of him being home that much haha!), I work 10-2 right now (stayed home til DD was 6mos after I left my F/T job) and FIL watches her.  She def doesn't get too many "kid" interactions but I have to say, my FIL takes her all over the neighborhood walking and she knows more neighbors than I do and has no problems interacting with adults!  There are a few kids her age on the street and we do take trips to the park, but we've never "scheduled" playdates.  The LO across the street will come here or we go there to play sometimes and the girls get along great and totally blow off the adults to do their thing, but its not super frequent.  I used to worry that she spent more time with our dogs than with other kids, but I've seen her interact in public and I'm pretty content that she's doing ok with the minimal interactions she's had :-)

post #6 of 15

I don't want to make anyone feel guilty for not doing official play dates, but I want to point out that parallel play is NOT the same as ignoring other kids. They are totally watching each other and learning about each other even if it looks like they are not paying any attention at all. Parallel play is a first step to interaction. It is part of socialization.


That said, I think they get enough of that if you take them to the playground for an hour every couple of days, if there are other kids present.

post #7 of 15
I believe it to be more important to socialize with our community as a whole. I think piling a bunch of kids in a place together can be too much as toddlers. Kids ADAPT to that if they are at school, but they don't necessarily need more than trips to playgrounds and other places where kids happen to be. That is only my opinion and personal experience, of course. Your child socialized with every single interaction with anyone of any age, kwim? I used to worry about that, but play dates were so often stressful for us, while naturally interacting on a community level was a breeze.
post #8 of 15
As for the dinner meltdowns, we bought a Learning Tower on amazon so my youngest could more safely partake in kitchen work.
post #9 of 15

We try to do story time at the library a few times a month. We occasionally have my friend over with her 2 year old. Other than that, I don't stress too much about socialization with my 16 month old DS. At 2, we may look into putting him in a twice a week Mother's Day Out or something for a bit more time with other kiddos. He LOVES babies and kids so much. He also interacts with just about every person he sees when we go to the grocery store or Target lol. 

post #10 of 15
On a random note...finally invested in a learning tower! Mama Amie, you gave me the last push. I've been hearing about them on this site for a while now. It's due to arrive tomorrow! :-D
post #11 of 15

Thank you so much for that perspective Mama Amie. I absolutely agree-- although until you shared, I wasn't able to even articulate it to myself. DS is three and has started talking about going to school. It's not something that's really possible for us financially right now, and I've been feeling guilty about not being able to provide him that experience and interaction. But, the more I sit with it, I realize that he will have pleeeenty of years in school (unless we homeschool....) and that he does get lots of socialization with the "community"-- as you put it so well Mama Amie. 

post #12 of 15
Just to revisit to say that my son started to become very interested in engaging with other children at almost 18months. It's a joy to see. Now that the weather is better, we meet more children out and about.
post #13 of 15

With 18-month-old DD, we do library story time, Kindermusik, and occasionally toddler playtime at a local gymnastics center.  I have seen a big change in her in the past couple of months of regular attendance - she's more attentive to the group activity, less clingy, and more likely to participate in the little structures (like putting away her seat mat, or going up front to get a sticker or an instrument).  She's also mimicking the other kids and walking up to them and waving and trying to make friends.  Kindermusik in particular has been awesome - she's learning to "notice" sounds (like a distant dog barking), and each week she is less clingy and shy.  We also try to do playdates, but we don't know a lot of people with kids so it's hard to schedule.  I'm sad about that, because she LOVES playdates, especially with older kids who dote on her and teach her stuff.


All in all, I'd say the social activities (large and small groups) have been very beneficial for DD.  At this young age, I can't say it's absolutely necessary to do these things, but I can say she enjoys them and responds to them.  And the sight of a room full of toddlers pretending to be butterflies is just so cute it'll about kill you.  :)

post #14 of 15

I'm glad you asked this question. My DS is 22 months old and so far he shows little interest in other kids. We're a one car family (which DH takes to work each day) in a neighborhood that's not very walkable so we're mostly limited to our neighbors and the nearby park. We play with the neighbor kids sometimes but they're all older (there is a 3 year old, and the rest are school aged kids) and at the park we sometimes run into kids that are near his age, but usually there are older kids, so I worry that he's not really getting interaction with kids his age. Oh, and we're the only ones out of our friends to have kids, so we don't really have anyone to have playdates with.

He does love to socialize (talk to, smile, wave) with random people we see while out walking, at the grocery store, etc.

post #15 of 15

Mother of a 9-1/2 yr old boy and 7 yo girl here.  The boy-o did no organized playgroups or activities until he was just over 3 years old.  That is no joke and no typo.  He is about as friendly and outgoing as they come.  Only to be rivaled by his sister....who started going to playgroups/activities shortly after she was born (because her brother started going and she was always there with me on my hip)...who while much of the time is a honey badger, will talk anyone's ear off who will listen to her and loves to play with other kids. 


All that written to say  - relax  love.gif.  Have them play with kids in organized activities, or don't...they'll learn and get comfortable with it either way - if they do and they're younger they're used to it...if they don't and they're older, they're more mature/capable and pick it up faster.


Take them places with lots of different kinds of people, let them see you interacting with others, treat them kindly, and they will do well whether they're doing bee bop babies at 6 months, or don't do a single organized thing until they're 3.   

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