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Does a three year old need friends?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
I've been feeling for the past year that a lot of playdates for my daughter are not very much fun for her, or for me . She has a few friends that she really likes that she sees infrequently (live far away), and a few that she sees more regularly that tend to be not very nice and somewhat agressive. I am feeling drained from her playing with the less easy-going kids, and she tends to act out after playing with them. I feel like I don't have a lot in common with the parents, either.

I wish we could meet some more kids her age nearby that have more in common with her as far as temperment. She is taking a music and movement class this fall and we'll be going to the library for storytimes too. I hope to meet some new friends for her there.

I guess my question is: how much does three year old need to play with other kids her own age? Are weekly classes and storytimes enough, or does she need the one-on-one playdate kind of interaction? Since she's not going to preschool and she's an only child, I worry about enough socialization at this age.
I really appreciate any advice on how I might get my daughter the socialization she needs without feeling like I'm having to hang out with kids and parents that I don't really like, or stressing my kid out.
post #2 of 13
My daughter is three, and I find it alot let stressful when she plays with older kids, she still has fun, but they have a clearer grasp on concepts such as sharing..ect, and they gently guide her through a nice healthy playtime...
My daughter has a friend who is 3 mts older, and although things have gotten alot better between them, there is still a lot of fighting, leaving myself and dd drained.

I don't know if that helps, but dd goes to preschool, and is involved in gymnasticks, music, soccer, but she is too busy for 1on1 with the other kids her age during these activities...

She's happy, and social, so I'm not too worried.

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
C'mon, all you lurkers! Post a reply!! :0)

Thanks, Soleil. I have noticed that my kiddo does better with older kids who understand the concept of sharing, etc. My daughter gets that sort of thing already and it's hard for her when her friends don't.

How do you manage to do preschool plus all those activities?? You have more energy than I do, LOL! Good for you.
post #4 of 13
Hmm..well..I work shift work, so on my working days, Soleil goes to preschool, I work 4on/4off, so on my days off, Soleil enjoys her activities, and if I'm working, then my mother or dh takes her to the courses...my husband is her music teacher, so this can be done whenever...

I just think older kids are better at humouring...my sister would kill me, she hates being humoured! LOL


post #5 of 13

Well, you asked for it, I'm a long-winded poster, sorry!

We have a playgroup that we've been going to since my 3 yr old was 6 months old. I have the same feeling in that if we didn't happen to have ended up in the same childbirth prep class and started a playgroup from there, I would never interact w/most of these moms. Other than on a lot of mommying issues, I don't really relate to them at all and one of them I can't stand really.

That said, I have to say as a SAHM, and my 3 yr old being my first, I have really enjoyed and needed the interaction w/other moms and seeing where kids w/in a month of mine are developmentally, etc. I also have a close friend whose oldest is w/in 4 months of DD1 and have met w/her every week until we had our second kids, and then every 2 weeks. We disagree on a lot too, but we are friends from grad school and it is always interesting to see parenting from another perspective and it helps w/my own parenting.

This playgroup (every 2-3 weeks) and playdate w/my friend (every 1-2 weeks) has been the only "socialization" my 3-yr-old has had short of relatives, her 18-mo-old sister and of course, dealing w/kids at the mall play area or playgrounds/parks. She is a naturally shy little girl (or was, she's seemed to completely turn around since turning 3) and so I actually enrolled her in preschool (starting in 2 weeks) to try and get her used to socializing w/out me around.

I am hoping to meet parents/kids/families more along my style through preschool and I'm also trying to make an effort w/a new neighbor. I agree that a lot of times playdates/groups are just NOT fun. In fact, I pushed for our playgroup to start meeting out and about rather than trading houses b/c it just got too stressful dealing w/all those kids in a confined space (especially when I had to pick up my house after the onslaught of 4 moms and 9 kids under the age of 4 )

There is one child in our playgroup and my friend's DS who both act out and make the time stressful and my DD1 definitely acts out after time w/both of them (and DD2 is starting too ). I don't know about you, but I have kept going to playdates and playgroups b/c *I* need it as much as I feel my DDs might.

If I were you - actually I am in your boat somewhat - and my plan is preschool (which she's excited about, so I don't feel like I'm forcing), swim "class" which she loves (but is more of a one-on-one thing for her and I), continuing my playdates and playgroups as long as they're not too painful and actively trying to seek out that perfect other mother(s) who will be on the same page w/me and our kids will love each other! (pipe dream?)

Again, I don't know if they *need* it, but I have to say most weeks, I do, even if at this point, it isn't w/the perfect other mother or toddler.
post #6 of 13
I also have a three-year-old dd, and I do try to have one-on-one playdates for her at least once a week, because she tends to play alone in groups (like at preschool) or will inteeract with the adults more than the kids. I think that the playdates are a good opportunity for her to practice social skills such as sharing, taking turns, problem solving, empathy, etc.

It sounds like you are trying to provide your dd with these opportunities but she doesn't seem to be enjoying the playdates, so I understand why you are questioning their necessity! I do think that it is important for three-year-olds to have one-on-one interactions with other children. Perhaps the children she plays with are just not a good match for her? I have certainly observed that my dd plays better with some children than others; just like adults, children aren' going to enjoy the company of everyone they meet. Your ideas about hoping to meet more children in her classes is a good one! I agree that it is pointless to plan playdates just for the playdate's sake - if your daughter doesn't like the child, there just seems to be no point, especially if she is picking up negative behaviors from them, too.

Good luck in finding some new friends!

Oh, and just an aside, but a thought to consider...I've been wondering about "unsupervised" playdates, meaning the other mom drops her child off at my house for an hour or two and she doesn't stay, and then we do the same, but at her house, next. I am fairly close with a few of the moms of dd's friends and we have known each other since they were babies, and we have similar parenting styles, so I would feel comfortable with this. Does anyone else do this with preschool age children?
post #7 of 13
my ds is three and a half and weve never belonged to a playgroup. there was a time when i considered seeking one out but fionns super sensitivity and my shyness ruled that out.

so instead , since at this time i dont know ne other sahm's i arrange "playdates" with two of my freinds with kids that i like and know. once a week they come over to my place and stay while their mom is working. it works out pretty well. there good kids and my son gets good stuff from playing with them. and its acually less work for me, because he doesnt want to play with me,

i prefure to have slightly older kids over since this age is not the most easiest its always hardest on me when the kid i have over is that same age.

thats all we have going right now,besides taking him out to playgrounds and the mall when its rainy where sometimes he'll connect with someone for a little while and sometimes he wont.

at this point i know he personally needs more stimulation so were signing him up for swim class to go to with daddy on saturdays and if its not too much we'll go to some sort of class, like gymnastics or something during the week.

i dont think at this age they generally "need" very much interaction with other kids their age. but for my son he does need more then ive been providing. but id rather go to some class then a playdate personally. something that were both interested in so that perhaps the chance of meeting a like-minedmom would increase.

i also dont see ne point in going to a play group where your not compfotable just for the sake of playing with other children. and being around negative children can have its bad points although if its not too bad you can utilize it as a learning experiance if you talk to your child about others actions. im sure if you looked around and did some thinking you could find something to work for both youand your child. good luck
post #8 of 13
I would say that it's important for a 3-year-old to have interaction with people of all ages, including other 3-year-olds, but I'd say those classes cover it. If she obviously hits it off with another child, then pursue the playdates, but don't pursue them just for the sake of playdates.

[edited for typo]
post #9 of 13
I worry about this too. Sophie doesn't have ANY three yr olds that she can play with. She socializes plenty with adults and occasionally with older or younger kids but there just isn't the opportunity for her to have playdates with kids her exact age.

I'm not "sold" on the importance of same age friends. I know children need peers to help round out identity development when they are around seven but at three yrs of age, I just don't know if it's a priority.

Good luck in your search for some answers! We're in the same boat
post #10 of 13
My friend has a dd about 3 mts older than my dd, and we've been getting together for 18 mts now, and have recently started taking the other's dd for an afternoon, it's great because it gives me a chance to go run errands, and vice versa, and the girls are used to each other and to us...(her dd trusts me and vice versa)...we try not to do this too much though, because we need to get together (mom's) as much as the kids, and we found that we weren't seeing each other as much....(sorry if this sentence doesn't make sense, I'm going to review it before i post!)


post #11 of 13
...okay this is the 2nd time I've 'lurked' here.

My 3 yr old DS would have a playdate every afternoon if it were up to him. He has stuff scheduled 4 mornings a week. ALL of his friends are his age.

I am a loner and he is just very very social and an only child. I've been wrestling with this issue too. So a special playdate once a week is okay? That can't be right for him. Now it's 1-2 times a week (in additon to 3 mornings school, swimming and gymnastics) he would be 'starving' for social interaction. Unfortunately I'm a once a week girl.

I think since he is an only child it is up to me to make a special effort for him to have enough playdates so that he isn't bouncing off the walls.
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks to everyone who responded. Re-reading my post, I realize that I have been feeling deeply cranky! And it IS time to branch out and find some new friends for my kiddo. I feel very motivated now. Thanks again!
post #13 of 13
I am having a similar situation with my 3 y1/2 year old. We were in a playgroup, but have drifted from them. I had 2 friends who were staying home, but have since gone back to work. So, we are pretty lonely puppies right now. The other kids we know are in preschool and then there are parenting style issues. I have us enrolled in zoo school and science class a few days a week. It's a mommy and me type thing. We go to the local mall in the evenings, dh is working, and play in the really nice play area there. I am needing friends as much as he is. He always tells me "Mom, when can I see my real friends. Those kids at the mall and at class aren't my real friends. I want ____, _____." Those are the kids we don't really see anymore. He is an only child and it gets hard being his only friend sometimes. I try to get out as much as possible, because we both need it. I made up cards that have our name and number on them and I pass them out to moms who seem nice or kids who he plays well with. So far, whenever I have called, plans fell through. Also, I think ds likes the idea of playing with kids more than actually playing. He really likes to talk and is very verbal. When he plays he wants to talk alot and gets frustrated that the other kids only want to run around and jump. He wants to involve some type of story with it. But, now and then he meets up with the right kid and has a blast! The classes are good for meeting other moms, I just have to realize that it is hard to meet like minded moms. As long as their parenting style isn't in the other extreme, things seem to be fine. (Until I happen to mention that ds is still nursing, then that's usually the end of our conversation. Strange look and then "well, we better be going")

So , my opinion is that kids have different levels of socialization. Some are fine to be at home and some need other kids. Just like adults.
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