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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My daughter (3) seeks out other kids and adults to play with very, very readily. She usually approaches them kind of slowly and sideways, and then follows them until they acknowlege her. Usually this is a somewhat painful thing to watch. She sometimes introduces herself on her own, but sometimes only after I remind her she can do it. But even then it seems most of the kids haven't figured out the introduction thing and don't know what's going on, so they don't reciprocate. She always follows the kids around quite intently. Some kids think it's great to have an attentive shadow... for a while. Some don't like it at all, of course. Those who are her age are just getting into playing together and it's bound to be a bit awkward, I'm guessing. Those who are a bit older usually don't have time for someone her age.<br><br>
So knowing how things usually go, this morning at the wading pool I decided I'd try to work hard to get her to play with me. Wrong. No matter what I pretend or how exciting I try to make it, it's all about other kids, mom. Okay. That's cool. Maybe if I get all the kids playing together she'd have fun with everyone...? Wrong again. I had half the kids having a ball all splashing and playing a game with me, and the other half could barely walk yet. My daughter was of course not involved in the game, but trying to make friends with the babies, whose parents were probably wondering where the heck this kid's mom is.<br><br>
This kind of thing has happened a number of times, where I am the most popular "kid" at the park, with everyone playing together and with me....except my own child. Ugh. Not what I'm aiming for. YK?<br><br>
Any insights? Why won't my daughter play with me in public? She wants me to play CONSTANTLY at home, of course, and I do so more often than not and initiate and engage at home, too. Am I already uncool?<br><br>
And, can anyone help me understand how kids play together at this age? Is all this awkward following/dodging to be expected? She's very bright and outgoing, but maybe her approach is intimidating...? Perhaps the awkwardness may have to do with developmental differences...?<br><br>
Oh, and why all this following? She's so directive with us at home. She leads us in imaginative games all the time. Can I help her play this way with other people?
 

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I don't know the answer. But your post made me giggle, very cute. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
It kind of sounds like she has watched you and how you interact with others and she is just "practicing" (as my 3 year old likes to say). She is trying to figure out how to do what she sees you do so comfortably.<br><br>
I also think that it is not so much that you are uncool, but that she knows she can play with you anytime she wants. When there are other kids around she wants to practice playing with them.<br><br>
Just my thoughts.
 

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I just read somewhere that "popular" kids actually do some of what your daughter describes - they watch a group of kids play for a while, figure out what they are playing, and then find a way to inject themselves in the game - but go along w/what the other kids are doing (they don't try to take over or change the game) - so maybe she is on the path to this? She has the watching part down, anyway! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"> Maybe if you spend time talking to her about what she is noticing about the other kids? Or practice playing the joining in step w/puppets or dolls.
 

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What your daughter is doing sounds pretty normal to me. She knows how to play with mom already, now she's trying to figure out how others play. I'd just step back a bit and let her handle it on her own.
 

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I think most kids that age establish friendships and enter into play *exactly* the way your dd does. I think its fine -- and if she's content with that, then I'd sit back and wait to offer my help until it is asked for.
 

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She sounds like she's doing fine. My daughter is also pretty outgoing. She makes friends with all sorts of people and kids whereever we go. Her MO is also walking up and staring or shadowing. I often remind her to say "hi" if she's just staring. That usually alerts the others to her presence and gives her an in. And it also turns rude staring into a friendly conversation. Most people, adults and kids alike, are willing to interact with a cute kid.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>ohmtaretu</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">She's so directive with us at home. She leads us in imaginative games all the time. Can I help her play this way with other people?</div>
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I have a very imaginative 3 yo and she mostly contently plays on her own. She likes it when kids and/or adults play pretend with her but then if they do not, she just plays with her dolls. I honestly think that's perfectly OK. She sometimes plays with other kids games which are simpler like running, and hiding and splashing water in the pool. But then, I think she is aware that trying to get a complete stranger to play pretend he is a horse may just not work out, and, can you blame her? If I were you I would just relax, sit back, read a book and let her mature at her own pace. For when she is older, a good book is "Parents Do Make a Difference : How to Raise Kids with Solid Character, Strong Minds, and Caring Hearts by Michele Borba which suggests a number of strategies that can help your dd make friends. But if she seems happy, she is only three, she does not NEED to make friends for now... JMO ...
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>siouxm</strong></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">I don't know the answer. But your post made me giggle, very cute. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"></div>
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I'm glad you laughed. It felt more like "pathetic" to me. Here I am, following my daughter around trying to get her to play with me, while she follows some kid around, trying to get them to play with her.<br><br>
I really don't want to sit back and relax, read a book, either. I know what happens when I do that: she runs off with other kids...once was about to leave the park completely with some other kid. When I talked to her about leaving the park with other people, she said, "But I want friends, mom." Or things just never pan out: shy kids run off, bossy kids take over, and loners get unwelcomed company.<br><br>
I don't think she's necessarily unhappy at the park or otherwise. She always wants to be there. It's just that she tries soooo hard and soooo unrelentingly and with marginal success that I can't help but want to help her.<br><br>
Yesterday, a new face came to the quiet park where we were, and when my daughter went off to meet her I went right along with her, happily, and after giving some time for things to happen on their own, finally said, "Hi! My name's ---- and I'm -------'s mom." Do you want to play with us?" Pause. "Do you want to slide?" At which point she ran off to her mom and hid, which wasn't bad because then I could talk to my daughter about what was happening, as it happened. "Oh, she seems shy. Let's see if we can get her to come chase us!" And then we played peek-a-boo with her around the play area, until lo and behold she could no longer see us and came to find us. Everyone played well together after that. And I could pop in and out of play pretty much when I felt like it.<br><br>
So, I'm starting to think my daughter could use some help being more direct about her wishes, more attractive as a playmate, and help with how to deal with all the varying responses. And I think the other kids can use some help understanding my daughter and dealing with their own feelings. I've sat back and watched what happens when I don't step in. I liked seeing what happened when I did. Doesn't mean I have to be there for everything forever. But gosh darnit I want to be there for at least SOME of it! As I see it, that's my wonderful, magical privilege as her mom.<br><br>
Thanks for the responses. I appreciate learning about how other parents approach the issue of socialization skills.
 

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well I think that at 3 they are still working out everything about other children and other mammas - seems like all that you describe is typical kind of 3 year old at the playground behaviour - many children just don't really play together at that age or really know what it is when they say they want a 'friend' - cos they don't know what a friend is or isn't - I'm happy to let me 3.5 year old learn for herself with me there are backup should she feel the need to come to me - I don't think that you are 'uncool' but probably that the other children are just too different and interesting for her ....
 
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