or Connect
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › The Childhood Years › 4-yr-old won't go on playdates; I need reality check!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

4-yr-old won't go on playdates; I need reality check!

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
My 4-yr-old dd won't go play with other kids unless I come along. Is this normal? All the other kids her age I know are regularly going over to each other's houses - WITHOUT THE MOM COMING ALONG! This is a bizarre concept to me, since dd won't even play upstairs at someone's house if I stay downstairs. Other moms call me up to see if dd wants to come for a "playdate" at their house, but she won't have any of it. At home, she will go off to another part of the house and play by herself for an hour at a time, but once other kids are involved, she wants me right there.

Other parents are starting to think this is weird - not that I really care, but I'm starting to wonder if this is healthy. Shouldn't she be playing with other kids her age by now? I need a break from her every now and then...

Is this just one of those "she'll do it when she's ready" things? At what age do kids usually go over to their friends' houses by themselves? Is it healthy for me to be her best - and only - friend?
post #2 of 21
I think having a 4 year old without parents along is wierd. My 6 year old isn't allowed into anyone's home without me, and why should he be? When I heard a friend saying her 4 year old was ta a neighbors for a playdat I was shocked. I don't think your child is wierd- he will let you know when he is ready.
post #3 of 21
Me, too.

I'm going along with them 'til they're grown

Okay, that was a joke.

But seriously, even if they didn't want me along, there I'll be. Though we're not big in the playdate department. Mainly because it's not just me, it's little sister and baby brother along, too.

Maybe that is a little crowded ...

If any parent thinks it's odd, that's their right. You do what your child needs you to do.

- Amy
post #4 of 21
I've got 4 kids over 4 (and a 2 year old)...none of mine would have been comfortable on a play date without me at 4 years old. Our children played with the children of people I knew and hung around with. When each of my boys were in the 1 1/2 to 3 year range I had a friend with a boy around the same age...and their boys were bullies (many instances of hitting, kicking, biting, taking toys away, etc...EVERY vist.) We went through it with our older son and 7 years later with our younger son. I would NEVER have left my sons in the care of either of these parents....if they weren't able/willing to do something about their child hurting mine with me present, I can't imagine what would have happened if I wasn't there. Each of the mothers sometimes made a half hearted effort to do something but it was obvious it was being done for my benefit.

Personally I'd go with what your dd is comfortable with. I rarely left mine with babysitters, so they weren't used to being without me. I think daycare kids are more likely to be happy on these playdates because they are used to being places without their mom's (this is in NO way a slam on daycare...just an observation)
post #5 of 21
Sounds to me like your dd is very securely attached.

May I bet that those other parents are very mainstream? I don't mean to imply that all ap children want their parents to be present, but I do suspect that only mainstreamers would think it's strange for a 4-year old to want her mama there.

On average, US females live 76 years. You might as well enjoy the few that she wants to spend with you!!
post #6 of 21
My son will stay at a friend's house for a bit without me, but it comes and goes. We aren't setting up playdates, we are babysitting for each other. None of us have family in the area and we never get out without our little ones. It seems as though the daycare kids are much better without their folks than nondaycare. Again, just an observation. These kids also know us very well, so it is the best situation possible for them, playing with a friend in a home where they are comfortable. My son on the other hand is with me 24/7. He doesn't like to stay long at someone's house without me. He is 3. Unfortunately, So far, all of our times have been for emergencies, we haven't had but one luxury time and he didn't like it. It's hard to judge how he would have been in non-emergency times. It has always been a stressful event which caused the situation.

I have also learned that he likes being with certain families and not one in particular. This one is not an AP family, so it is a different environment. He loves this little boy though, so we are trying to connect with them.

I don't mind that he seems reluctant to be with others. He is only 3 and I think it is better if we let the kids natural personalities lead the way in matters such as independence and separation.
post #7 of 21
I think it has to do with the childs personality. I think that the social thing comes at different ages...as well as their..I'll say independance for lack of a better word...( but I think that our kids can still be independant while still having mom around).
My 4yo ds goes to the next door neighbors house all thetime... and has a couple of friends whose houses he always wants to go to... He also wants to go places ALONE...when he goes to story hour or this summer he went to a socccer school.. he always wants to make sure I'm NOT going to be there. (unfortunately for him I AM there most of the time .. but I try to leave him in as many places alone as possible!!!!) He really enjoys his freinds and is very comfortable being left places... I do not, however,see his 19mo brother folllowing suite.. he always wants mama around (much more so than bro at the same age) and doesn't show the social-ness that his big brother always has.
post #8 of 21
I agree it is a temperment thing. Dd1 is 6 and does not like to go on playdates without me unless it is someone she knows really well -- both parents and the kid. DD2, who is 4, will go on playdates without me sometimes (and I will let her go to places where we are family friends). Ds, also 4, will not go alone.
post #9 of 21
I wholeheartedly agree with Simonee - it is foreign to me that I would ever be comfortable letting my babe go into someone else's house without me. She is only 3 now, but I promise you that won't change with the coming years. NO way!

Call me attached, call me wary, call me safer than sorry! Whether she wants me or not, there I'll be.

And I truly believe she'll be grateful for comfort.
post #10 of 21
My dd Lily is 4 & she sounds similiar to your dd. She is not at all comfortable going on playdates without me, we must be together in the same room during the playdate & then she is able to have an enjoyable time. At our own home she'll venture off to other area's of our home without me. The writer who mentioned the mainstream parenting is right on the money. All her other friends parents find her behavior peculiar but it doesn't bother me. When she's ready she'll go. She has stayed with her grandparents less than a handfull of times & I've also had to drive miles to pick her up when she felt uncomfortable. It's alittle easier to be flexible when you only have the one I guess. My only concern is if we decide we need to use our school system instead of homeschooling. I'm hoping the transition from home to school won't be tramatic for her. We just found out about a program at the college that emphasizes play, crafts & reading so we're all going to try it this week. The professor said I could stay for a week or so & then just say I need to use the bathroom & leave slowly for short periods if Lily is comfortable with it, I'm not forcing it at all. Lily wants to participate because of all the cool climbing ropes & such but I'm unsure of what her final decision will be. The swim class didn't fly this summer because no other mother was in the pool with their dd so the head lifeguard told me I' had to get out. Oh well, we practiced on our own. What will you do next year with schooling, I'd love to homeschool!
post #11 of 21

view from the other side

I don't think it is strange or dangerous for a 4yo to have a playdate without a parent along, even in an AP family. I was a VERY shy and cautious child (apparently innate temperament), but:
*My mom and 2 other AP moms w/kids similar ages had a scheme wherein each of them would care for (including nursing) all 3 kids for several hours once a week, starting around 18 months.
*I remember going on more standard "play dates" not just at my best friend's house but with kids I'd just recently gotten to know at preschool, definitely at 4 and possibly 3.
*I started staying overnight at my best friend's house (just for fun, not because my parents were away or something) at 5. I remember getting homesick and crying in the middle of the night the first time, but after that it was not a problem at all.
The second and third things I very much wanted to do. The first I don't remember, but Mom's stories about it sound like I didn't object. Maybe that early experience of being in the care of someone else's parent and seeing that she would take care of me too helped me to feel comfortable with the later situations.

Certainly I agree that if your child resists solo play dates, she shouldn't be forced to go; you should respond to her cues. What I disagree with is the idea that it is "shocking" for a 4yo to be separated from mom for a few hours in the care of another responsible adult. Why is that shocking? :

I do think my parents could have been more careful about getting to know other families before dropping us off at their houses. My brother and I each had a friend whose house we weren't allowed to go to AGAIN after a dangerous incident (my friend, when I said I had a headache, climbed up the cabinet and got me some adult Tylenol, unnoticed by her mom who was watching TV in another room the whole time; my brother's friend was allowed to play w/the rifles his family stored on the floor under the couch, which were always unloaded BUT STILL!!! --nobody was harmed, but these were unacceptable conditions for children) and that could've been avoided by screening the families better. I guess I would not let a preschooler go to a new friend's home for the FIRST time without me along. But the idea of forbidding a 6yo from ever entering anyone's home without mom strikes me as extreme. I'm sure Khrisday has good reasons, but as general policy for 6yo that seems weird to me.

Yes, it makes sense that kids who are accustomed to daycare have an easier time going places without mom. I think that's not bad, just different. It doesn't mean the kids are indiscriminate and won't notice if they're in a bad situation or not getting their needs met.
post #12 of 21
ya know, i was just re reading this thread and I feel I need to say something about some of the replies. I just cannot understand where people are coming from when they make references to "mainstream" parents or the inference about kids in child care... I do understand that these comments are not meant to be derogatory (sp?) but gosh..I really get this "us" and "them" feeling when I see this and for some reason it bothers me. I can't imagine how such a sweeping generalization can be made.... I feel lije you're saying that a childs devlopement has everything to do with how their mothers parenting is labeled and nothing to do with the childs personality.??
Sorry all.... just felt a need to say this. hope no one feels offended .. hope everyone gives this some thought. feel free to put me in my place
post #13 of 21
BAU3, Your right, it did sound like two different teams against each other rather than parents trying to raise healthy children. My dd Lily didn't attend the second day of the program I referred to and we went to a family picnic this weekend along with my in-laws visit & it honestly felt like I was odd & not on the same planet. As soon as we arrived & in front of my dd a number of them stated " We heard Lily's a preschool dropout!". I asked them to please not say that type of thing in front of her. They proceeded to tell everyone we didn't know that she sleeps with us, nursed forever & thats why she'll be able to make her own decision about dropping out of high school. It bothered me so we went for a walk but it's actually irritating, no more like frustrating me, much more as I write. They were doing it with humor but I felt it was still inappropriate & wish they could understand. My MIL kept asking when she'd sleep in her room & wasn't I going to "make" her attend the play group this week. I guess what I'm trying to say is it makes me feel like I'm on some team that they've never heard of. They all love my dd & I explained to them it's because of the way she's being raised & to act like adults & watch what they say in front of her. They stopped after a few minutes but Lily had heard it all I'm sure. That's the part that hurts me inside, that she had to hear them say such things, she's only 4, she isn't ready to go on her own & we respect that but most of our F & F don't. It mades me sad.
post #14 of 21
That would irritate me, too.. if someone made comments like that in front of my ds.... some times people think that if someone is under5 ft. tall or something that they can't understand when someone makes fun of them: My 4yo ds is very petite... and people conatantly make comments about how "tiny" he is.. the poor kid is constantly telling me look how big I am etc.
Anyway.. I guess my point was that I really feel that children are individuals....some are outgoing and social.. some are introverted and thoughtful. It just irks me sometimes when this labeling thing gets tossed in as sort of a reason for this... It makes no sense to me. I don't like anyone telling me that my parenting choices are wrong or that I nedd to do something differently.. so why would I condemn someone else for making choices different from mine. As I said I really just don't like the "us" and "them" attitude. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I just don't think its fair. I think we're all on the same mama team!
post #15 of 21
OK, I figured out how to quote yesterday and now I can't figure it out. But I agree with EnviroBecca - if the kid is OK with it and it is a responsible adult whom you trust, I see no problem with a child going on a play date at the age of 4, 5, 6 without their mom. I am definitely in the minority on MDC as I don't consider myself AP necessarily but I think that a child having other adults they can trust (besides their parents) is a good thing. If I wasn't around or if they didn't want to come to me - for whatever reason - I would want them to feel close enough to trusted family friends, etc. to ask/discuss/etc. any issues with them. If it was something major, I would assume that person would come to me - as I would if their child was in trouble.
I don't have too much experience with true AP IRL but one woman I was previously friends with is AP. I felt like she almost made her dd overly dependent on her. We were very good friends - saw each other (with our kids) 3 to 5 times a week for four years. They were at our house all the time. We met in Bradley childbirth classes so from birth our girls were friends. Even when her dd was 3 and 4, when they were at my house and the mom needed to go to the bathroom, she would say (in what I perceived to be an odd voice - with kind of a leading tone like "you should do what I'm saying") "I'm going to the bathroom. Do you want to come?" Now this was not about trying to get her dd to use the toilet. And I know she trusted me and my dd to be safe and kind with her dd. While in the bathroom for two minutes, ten feet away, within earshot of us playing in the family room, what was going to happen to her? Even when really into what she was playing, she would usually get a funny look then slowly get up and go along. I always found it strange and kind of a slap in the face to me - that somehow I wasn't to be trusted with her dd? We do not have dogs - the doors are closed - windows are babyproofed to only open a couple of inches so no one can fall out. I understand if the CHILD is shy and wants to go with the mom. But in this case, it seemed like the mom was setting up the situation.
Any opinions?
post #16 of 21
Kirsten, Do you think perhaps the Mother experienced some type of trama or abuse as a child & is now trying to "protect" her child? That immediately came to mind although it may have nothing to do with it other than the Mother being extremely protective. That does sound unusual or maybe her child doesn't initiate using the bathroom when having a good time & she thought she could ask them in private. What do you think?
post #17 of 21
Yes, the mother did suffer abuse as a kid. But at that time in our lives, I was her closest friend - talked on the phone every day and saw each other most days of each week. We once had a conversation about it. I had asked her if she was worried she would make her daughter afraid of people. She said she wanted her to be afraid of people. I just find that incredibly sad. What life must seem like if you don't trust anyone - if you believe that people are inherently bad. If you can't turn to others. I know she had many issues and had been for help but it hadn't seemed to work out yet for her.
I know this is outside "normal AP" due to the circumstances the mother grew up in. I just didn't know how to help her.
post #18 of 21
Hey ladies, I'm afraid I gave a wrong impression earlier (I was the one who started talking about "mainstreamers"). I don't think that children have to be with their parents at all times, I only believe that a child's desire to be with parents should be respected. If my dd (3 yo) is okay staying somewhere without me, and I trust the people in question, there's no problem at all. I'm happy to leave

But if she wants me there, I don't think she's acting strange; I stay there. My point was that a parent who is in tune with her/his child, will respect her wishes, and that a parent who believes that a 4-year old SHOULD feel okay if the parent is not there, lacks a basic form of respect toward her child. I labeled that perspective "mainstream", and I'm sorry about the labeling. It was just easy to type.

My dd always wants me there, except when we're visiting my dear friend C. I'm very AP, but I always feel strangely happy when C. tells me to go off by myself somewhere And when I know dd is playing with C. and her kids, I don't worry about dd for a second.
post #19 of 21
To intentionally raise a child to be frightened of people is such a sad & unhealthy concept. Your friend sounds like she really trusted you Kirsten since she opened up to you but probably should seek professional counseling so that she can overcome her fears & raise her child without the heavy burdens that are weighing her own life down. It sounds like you must have been very important to her.

My update is that my daughter is suppose to participate in her first dance class today without me. All week we've talked about how it will work, that I'd be behind the glass window ect. We read books about dancing & such. Her response was "I'm hiding after breakfast so you can't find me (giggle)." Since she refuses everything I'm not involved in I wasn't sure how she'd feel in the morning although she knows the super nice instructor, we were in the parent tot class for two sessions & plays with some of the kids. I was excited about having her do this on her own. I felt with all my involvement last session she would be able to do it by herself. Last night after dinner Betty calls to say she needs another instructor (me) due to the class size so dd won't have to even try it alone. I guess what I'll do is help her out today, see how Lily responds & then make a decision. My gut is that Lily will adapt fine on her own, as in I'll stand in one spot & see how she responds. I'm hoping she venture to the other side of the room, possibly near the other instructor. What do you think? The most vain & horrible part is the instructor asked me if I had any leotards, I told her I only had loose gramicci pants. She said I needed workout clothes. Lets put it this way, spandex ain't lookin' so good on me these days! I said I only have bicycle shorts & such, it should be a hoot trying to put them on after a long sabattical & many pounds more. Figure it'll give all the moms behind the glass something to giggle about! Wish me luck, all for the love of our children!
post #20 of 21
Hey simonee, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that our childrens desire to be with their parents should be respected. ( as should their desires in general ). I guess I'm coming from the other end of the spectrum here with my ds who is perfectly comfortable being left places and actually prefers to NOT have me around.I feel I need to respect that as much as a parent whose child needs them close by. I suppose the reason I was so bothered by the post was that I felt that it implied that children like my son could only be social and independant (again, I use this word for lack of a beter one..) if they go to day care or are some how "unattatched".. when in fact I am a sahm who practices what most would consider a pretty AP approach to raisng my children.(I really hate that label though. And I do not consider myself tto be AP)We cosleep; we ebf'ed;cloth diapered; very rarely do we leave kids with babysitters... Althoug now, at 4 1/2 and 2 1/2, I am very comfortable leaving them for a few hours to go out . ..Because I know that THEY are comfortable with it.....

Anyway, this rambling bring me around full circle to what I believre to be the heart of the matter, as simonee so aptly stated, that its all about respecting your childs needs, whether thats sticking by thier side or leting them go.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: The Childhood Years
Mothering › Mothering Forums › Childhood and Beyond › The Childhood Years › 4-yr-old won't go on playdates; I need reality check!