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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My daughter is 3 1/2 old and has no apparent developmental or emotional issues. She and I live in a very small effeciency apartment and she attends a Montessori school full-time (I am a full-time graduate student). At home she is very affectionate and asks me to play frequently, but at playdates she avoids me and will even tell me to "go away" or "don't sit by me". When she says these things she uses a firm, but not angry tone. She prefers to interact with the other parent(s) if she needs an adults attention.

I feel guilty for often putting off her requests to play at home because I have to attend to basic issues like cooking, washing dishes, personal hygiene, etc. She will continue to ask me to play with her although I ask her to wait and the situation often becomes frustrating for both of us. Now I am worried about her reaction toward me during playdates; she still acts affectionate at home but I am the only one there. Is there any other explanation for her behavior toward me at playdates besides general disfavor?
 

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My almost-4yo does this too. I think it's just her way of saying that she wants to branch out and explore other social situations all by herself without mom's guidance. I've encouraged it, as I think it's good for her to learn social interactions on her own somewhat. She'll come back to me if she has trouble!
 

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That is pretty normal for my 3.5yo as well. She loves me, but when we're out and about, especially with other moms around, she wants nothing to do with me!

I like to think that when she says "Not YOU, Mama!" what she really means is, "Mama, I know you're nearby, and if I want or need you I trust that you'll always be there...but right now I want to see what happens when I interact with Mrs. X." She just doesn't have the words to say that just yet.
 

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Can you try at home to play with her first and then do the chores? Sometimes at that age all you have to do is get them started and then they are happy to play along side you while you work. It would be interesting to see if she'd change in public once her frustration at home is minimized.

It is perfectly normal for kids to want more independence at playdates, but it's also possible she's modelling what you do at home, you say not now when she wants you to play, so she's saying not now when you want her to play.

The good news is that in the next year her ability to play happily on her own should really blossom. It helps a lot of the guilt of not being able to play more!
 

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LOl my son (3y 3m) does the same thing to us. If we go to say his grandad's house or our friend's hous he's like "ok mom and dad, you go be by yourself now!" We had a date night the other day and he was with his bubby and grandad....well we returned to get him and he told us "you go downstairs! We are playing right now!"

At home he is stuck like glue to me and no matter where I go he has to be with me.
 

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My 3.5 year old does this too. She wants her friends' parents to fix her food, help her get in a swing, read her books, etc. She's in Kindermusik where all of the parents come in for the last 10 minutes and we always do a circle dance. DD stands across the circle from me and holds hands with the teacher, her friends, and/or other parents. The other kids stick close to their parents. Last week in an attempt to sit with a friend who was in his father's lap, DD sat down in the dad's lap too. LOL

Honestly, I see it as her playing with being independent, and being very social. I don't take it personally.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I really appreciate the feedback! I just started getting worried about the behavior lately (probably PMS), so I'm glad to hear we're not alone. I had been thinking it was just independence, but she may be mimicing me some as well. When we get home she unloads her lunchbox and helps me make dinner, but loses interest after 10 or 15 minutes. Then the "mommying" starts. I know it won't last forever. We do play together quite a lot - I was just pretending I was a puppy before writing this. Thanks again and where is the list of acronyms for this site??
 
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