Should I be worried about almost 4 yo social skills? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 9 Old 03-05-2012, 07:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So I've been ruminating about this for a few weeks and keep going back and forth about whether I should be worried or not...  I'm hoping some of you might weigh in and offer reassurance or advice.

 

DD1 is almost four.  She goes to preschool 5 days a week.  Up until 1 month ago it was a full day 9-3:30 or so (she switched to half days since I'm on maternity leave but the afternoon is nap, snack and unstructured play).  The class is 14 kids all the same 1/2 year age.  And she was with the same group of kids last year.  She loves her teachers, likes her school friends and is VERY happy in the class.

 

A few weeks ago we got her assessment (as prep for the parent teacher conference).  The assessment (and conference) focused in great detail on the fact that DD does not voluntarily engage in collaborative play with the other children.  She will approach a child and ask them to play when her teacher tells her to and she will comfortably play alongside other children.  She also happily engages in conversations, collaborative problem solving, and group activities with her classmates.  But, if left to her own choice, during unstructured play time she consistently chooses to either talk with her teachers (in an in-depth conversation about events, class activities, a book they read, etc...) or play out an imaginary scenario with toys by herself. 

 

Her teachers regard this as a problem and suggest that it will lead to future problems where she will be unable to make friends as she gets older, will be left out or bullied or something. 

 

Her teachers, DH and I agree that the disinterest in playing with others is due to a) her temperment (she's reserved and cautious, she always thinks through the consequences before she acts); b) her stubborness (my word) in sticking with the game she already laid out and not wanting someone to change her plans; c) her advanced cognitive skills.  Her teachers suggest that it is also due to a lack of confidence.  I don't agree with this part... but I do think she hates the unpredictability of kids who act before they speak and finds them stressful.  She's also very concerned about following the rules of school. 

 

As I said, I keep going back and forth worrying about this and wondering how much I should worry.  On the one hand, a year ago she didn't even want to sit next to another kid to play.  At the start of the year, she wouldn't approach another kid even at the teachers request.  So, there's huge progress.  I also think that as kids get more articulate she'll have more fun playing with them because they too can engage in elaborate games of pretend that are primarily done through talking. 

 

On the other hand, I wonder if I'm being dismissive of a problem because I can relate to it so easily.  DD is very similar to me.  And, therefore I tend to say she's doing great, she's a terrific kid and she'll be ok making friends all because I was.  Still, as an introvert, I can appreciate the awkwardness of social situations and the anxiety that sometimes came along with being the odd one out.  DH is not concerned.  He thinks the teachers have to highlight something where there is a deficiency because of how the forms and conferences are structured.

 

But, if there is a problem, I have no idea what else I can do to help her at this point.  We do play dates as often as possible to facilitate her making friends.  She's warm toward (almost) all the kids.  We talk in great detail about school and her school friends (her teacher may have suggested that she thinks we all talk about things too much!)  Each day I ask who she played with and what they did.   So, I'm not really sure what else I can do to help her with this.  I feel like we just need to allow her to be herself... But then I start to worry again!

 

What do you think?  Is this a problem or is she too young to be worrying about this?  Any ideas of books I could read to help me contextualize her development? 

 

Thanks in advance... I know this was long and I appreciate you reading it!


Partner to DH and mom to DD1 (3/2008) and DD2 (born 1/2012).
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#2 of 9 Old 03-05-2012, 08:21 AM
 
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He thinks the teachers have to highlight something where there is a deficiency because of how the forms and conferences are structured.

I would disagree with this thought- sounds like you are in a program that is doing a bit more than most get out of preschool-IMO

 

If the teachers seem attentive (and it comes across that they do) and have taken the time to know her, I would regard what they say as valid. 

 

How much you need to do with it- that is really subjective at this point-IMO

I would definitely take the assessment along to your next well visit and get her Dr.'s prospective on how they assessed her.

Another impute would be of value to me since you are a few years a way form formal assessment at school. Sometimes it is nothing, other time we only see what we choose to and another objective opinion doesn't hurt- in the end it could help.

 

 

When will the preschool do another report like this-three, six months?

 

Our the teachers doing anything to work on this or is it just a wait and see?

 

I would not rush into something but I would keep what they said in my mind and see where you in a few months. 


 

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#3 of 9 Old 03-05-2012, 08:40 AM
 
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Are you raising my daughter?  orngtongue.gif

 

This was totally her at 4yo and the unpredictability of kids her age was a big reason for her playing on her own, but she mainly played alone because she loved it.  She had these elaborate running stories in her head.  She much prefers (still) the company of adults to children.  We homeschool and have never done daycare, so I never had anyone telling me this was a problem.  I did find it sometimes frustrating because my daughter was sometimes growly to boot.  Sometime around 5.5yo or 6 she just started being really friendly with kids at the park and at gymnastics.  I still see remnants of her old personality, but she is a very different girl now even if she isn't wholly on par socially with kids her age.

 

So, I mostly see this as a real "problem" only because she is in preschool.  There might be some valid observation that she is "behind the curve" in social skills, but I don't think this is necessarily a problem.  Does she show signs of stress at school?  Is she "growly" and grumpy towards other kids?  Is she actively anti-social?  Then no real problem in my book.  

 

What does the teacher want to do about it?  Perhaps he has some really gentle, respectful, useful suggestions and the point that this is a "problem" can be brushed aside as semantics.  Perhaps it really is just his job to point out any potential problems-- kids who don't quite fit in to the preschool mold.  Or perhaps this is your first red flag that your daughter's innate personality is not being respected.  You have to have a discussion with the teacher to find out.

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#4 of 9 Old 03-05-2012, 04:00 PM
 
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A perspective from down the road. My dd was like that at 4. She would sometimes search other kids out to play, but in reality, she was happier playing on her own because the other kids didn't "do it right". She also loves to talk, and other kids, quite honestly, don't have the patience for her monologues that adults do (no matter how interesting they are!). Dd is cognitively advanced and socially/emotionally right on track. That leads to frustration because she can 'see' the answer, but doesn't have the social or emotional skills to figure out how to persuade other kids to do what she wants.

 

Do you know helped the most? Time. In kindergarten, dd spent as much time frustrated with other kids as she did playing with them. In first grade, I heard a whole long litany of all the things other kids did wrong, and only occasionally something right. Finally, in the 2nd half of 2nd grade, she seems to have figured a few things out. In addition, other kids have caught up to her in some ways, and so they can understand her overall vision. Before, neither dd nor her audience had the language/negotiation skills to be able to get those ideas across. Emotional maturity has helped too, in that dd has learned to negotiate a bit and the other kids have learned to listen a bit.

 

Right now, I'd keep an eye on it. Your dd isn't advanced socially. But she's made a lot of progress. I'm raising two introverts and they are different from extraverts. (For a while I thought dd was an extravert, but she's really not. She's just a loud introvert!) Dd needs time to be in the back yard setting up her warrior cat nests or dressing up like Little House in the Prairie. When she's gotten that need filled, she can, for a while, engage with other kids.

 

 


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#5 of 9 Old 03-05-2012, 06:24 PM
 
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From what you said here, I see no problems. Seriously. I think the teacher is expecting alot from your child and not appreciating that every kid is different. She isn't behind in any areas. She has strong preferences perhaps but that is not a negative thing IMO.

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#6 of 9 Old 03-05-2012, 07:40 PM
 
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I could have written your post about my DS. 

 

He started pre-school at 3.9.  At his first conference, there was a lot of attention paid to the fact that he is just not social.  I was pretty upset, I had no idea being a quiet kid was cause for alarm!

 

DH and I talked a lot about it.  We came to the conclusion that DS is just like us.  He is fine on his own.  He seems to like being on his own and observing the world around him.  He is not a joiner, unless he is interested in what is going on.  He will talk to other kids, when he wants to.  I have seen him in many settings, jump in with groups and get really involved with what is going on.  He just doesn't seem to feel the need to do this at pre-school.  He has 1 boy he really likes and that is all.  When asked about other kids, he says "no, he/she isn't my friend, they don't know me!".

 

That being said, I still really struggle with it.  I am the exact same way.  I am crappy in social settings.  I am lonely a lot of the time, because of all of this.  I don't want to pass this onto my son. greensad.gif  But DH is a loner also, but is totally at peace with it.   

 

I keep working on it with DS.  Lots of encouragement to make friends and play with lots of kids.  And he still just loves playing in the Dramatic Play area, pretending his day away!  Hopefully as another poster stated, it just takes time.  redface.gif

 

 

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#7 of 9 Old 03-06-2012, 09:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for your comments, Mamas!  I'm feeling much better and so appreciate hearing about your experiences.

 

Sweetsilver, it does seem like our kids are very similar.  And, I do think the verbal stuff is a big  part of what I think is going on.  My DD is used to playing with DH and I and we have these complicated games that we talk through in great detail (child initiated pretend).   In fact there is very little time in the day when we are together when we aren't pretending something or another.   And, when we aren't pretending we're talking about real life stuff.  You have to be a real talker (adult or kid) to enjoy that sort of constant dialogue and you have to be pretty smart to develop that level of complicated play and maintain it for so long.  I don't think many of the other kids in her class are playing like that.   

 

She does also tend to get growly (actually growls... which I do too blush.gif) but she never shows that side at school... She will tell me afterwards with exasperation about something someone did that seemed annoying or stupid to her and I'll ask her how she handled it and she consistently answers in ways that are socially appropriate.  For example, after she and kid O were read a book they were talking about it.  Kid O got excited and got too close to her... maybe to hug her maybe just talking in her face.  She took a step back and said "O, I don't like that." And, then continued talking with him.  Not asocial at all, right? 

 

I think it is only a problem from the perspective of the teachers in that it's something that they expect kids to be able to do and she's not doing it.  She's totally friendly with the other kids, chats with them, and participates happily in the structured activities.  It's just that in the unstructured time she'd rather play by herself.   And, I have to confess, I totally understand why.  I tried an experiment at drop off this morning.  Kid C called out to DD when we entered the room and asked her to come and play.  After we got settled I joined DD and went over to the area where C was.  C was setting out cups on the table and handed us a menu.  DD and I sat down and I held the menu up to her and asked what she was going to order in the restaurant.  She said she'd like the "children's afternoon tea" and I said, "that sounds lovely, I have the adult afternoon tea and an extra piece of chocolate cake".  C said "No, we don't have dessert here"  DD said, maybe you can check or maybe you have another type of dessert.  C "No.  We have grilled cheese or hot dogs".   I asked DD what we should do and she said, we can make one ourselves.  C kept saying no, it wasn't time for dessert!  Ultimately, we made a pretend cake and another kid came over and we all made milkshakes too.  And then I left.  But, as I walked out I was thinking, that is not play it's work!  DD wasn't enjoying being bossed and the game was so much less interesting then what she would be doing if she had all the animals out and was developing an elaborate story.  But, this is more the type of play the teachers expect to see.   Lynn -- your comment totally resonated with this experience!

 

So the teachers solution is to ask DD every day to go and ask a friend to play.  The teacher has done this sometimes and DD always goes and asks the same one of three kids and the teacher facilitates the way I was this morning.  I have no major objection to this but I do feel a little worried that this will lead to DD feeling either that there is something wrong with her or cause her to start feeling bad about school since she knows she's going to be bossed about this (she's very concerned about being bossed these days).

 

Oh, and hugs, Mio.  Sorry you are dealing with this too!
 

 


 

 


Partner to DH and mom to DD1 (3/2008) and DD2 (born 1/2012).
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#8 of 9 Old 03-06-2012, 01:28 PM
 
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Originally Posted by parsley View Post

So the teachers solution is to ask DD every day to go and ask a friend to play.  The teacher has done this sometimes and DD always goes and asks the same one of three kids and the teacher facilitates the way I was this morning.  I have no major objection to this but I do feel a little worried that this will lead to DD feeling either that there is something wrong with her or cause her to start feeling bad about school since she knows she's going to be bossed about this (she's very concerned about being bossed these days).


This wouldn't concern me unless my dd was not given time to play on her own as well.  A little nudge in another direction would be fine, as long as she has the option to opt out when she wanted, just as you did in your example, and she wasn't made to feel bad for not wanting to stay in the game.  I would impress upon the teacher that your daughter needs to be able to play on her own frequently.  After all, if it is "free play" then she should have that option.

 

I didn't think to say earlier that a child's innate personality can be respected without being always indulged.  I think people on both sides of the socialization issue can get the two mixed up.   "Respect" does not have to mean "absolute indulgence".  I am usually of the side that believes that most children will get closer to a balance without any real pressure at all.  I have faith that given time and opportunity, most kids will pick up social skills as they go.  But I also am closer to the belief that tolerates varying degrees of social aptitude as perfectly acceptable instead of seeing gregariousness as the preferred definition of normal. (I can move around socially, I am polite and talkative, I am a good friend, but really in the end I prefer doing things on my own.)

 

And no, I don't think that quietly refusing to go along with the game is antisocial.  (As an aside:  "we" spend all this energy getting kids to "go along with the group and belong" and then when they do and are teenagers, we have to get them to make their own decisions.  Coincidence?  Hmmm.......headscratch.gif.)

 


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#9 of 9 Old 03-06-2012, 02:41 PM
 
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I forget where I read about this but it may be she is actually socially advanced, in that if she were with children 2-3years older she would not stick out as abnormal.

 

You could schedule an evaluation with a developmental pediatrician; this way you would have the opinion of a developmental specialist one way or the other and be able to say to the teachers "well, the developmental specialist we saw said..."


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