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  1. #1

    Default 4.5yo- need social or friends?

    we have been living abroad for 2 years in a place where we dont speak the language and have no social contacts. We have had no guests in our home during that time, no playdates out. We have visited family on several occasions for long visits. we spend plenty of time at the playground, pool, beach, and other places- but never had a "playdate". she also goes once a week to language group with her dad.

    She is also very sensitive/ shy by nature. she is still nursing and very much centered on me and her dad. she is very advanced in other areas, im not worried in gereral.

    How much should i push her to make friends? participate? play with others? how about a year from now? Whats average for k-1 graders as far as wanting friends or connections beyond me? how to ease her into this when we return to the USA? or just let her find her own time?

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  3. #2


    I vote for in her own time on your return.

    My most socially capable child was totally uninterested in being social outside the family until he was 6.

  4. #3


    Still nursing? Wow! I never heard of that! (not judging....just intrigues me!)

    I have a 4.5 y/o and she seems to like being around people in general...but when she does have the opportunity to 'play' with other kids she mostly plays alongside them, not actually with them. She seems happiest when she's doing an activity with me or playing by herself creating things in her room with animals/toys/etc. I think I once read that before age 6 kids do best just observing the world in the protection of mom. After that age they start a different phase where they venture out and can actually play 'with' other kids.
    Mother to Rikki, age 5. Residing in Michigan and building a Permaculture Food Forest and Mini Farm.

  5. #4


    I'm with Stella. I wouldn't worry too much...not being able to communicate is big for little kids. We live in a predominantly french area, yet my kids' french is minimal...so they will NOT just approach other kids to play.
    Kristin, sporadically, eclectically, homeschooling mom to Wynter (Nov 1st 2003), Cassia (Nov 2nd 2005), Solaine (Dec 21st 2007) and Orielle (July 23rd 2010)

  6. #5


    I noticed with nursing that the kids weren't really ready for a lot of social engagement until some time after weaning. Two of mine weaned in their fourth year and then there seemed to be a period of transition to the outside world that took a few more years. that might just be my kids though. I'm sure there are plenty of uber-social preschoolers still nursing.

  7. #6


    I agree with everyone else, your ds will be fine. She'll make outside friends when she's ready.

    On the subject of you nursing a 4.5yo, I just want to give you a big shout-out for being so open about that. My son didn't wean until he was 3 and my mother thought I was a freak of nature! The last year he nursed, I was so covert about it, like it was a "dirty little secret". Kudos to you for not hiding that!
    "...and the walls became the world all around." Maurice Sendak

    Mama to Jeremy(second grader)

  8. #7


    I think the norm is "parallel play" (meaning even when they "play together" they don't really play much together) until 5 or 6 or even 7. They really do not need playdates and such until they are older. Sounds like she is quite content! More introverted or quiet kids are perfectly normal to be even later. She is focusing her energies on her internal world and that is great! When she is ready she will want to branch out socially and you will know it.

    One way to think of it is that she is learning a lot more about how to behave in society from you that she would from another 4 year old, at this point. By the point kids can manage their interactions civilly for significant periods of time without adults acting as referees she will probably have developed an interest in socializing with them. I'd let her be your guide (she will let you know).

    It sounds like you are lucky that your child's temperament and your situation mesh so well! Be happy for that.

  9. #8
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    Ds is/was the same way. As he got older, he was able to communicate more about it, which helped me understand it better. And it's definitely an "in their own time" thing. Pushing makes it so, so much worse (learned that one from personal experience, unfortunately!).

    Unschooling one son (7).

  10. #9


    I am so very grateful for this thread. This has been a worry of mine. My DD is 4.5 and really loves to be just with her family. She also plays by herself quite well and seems to enjoy that over playing with other kids. People are constantly asking the "how is she getting socialized" question when I report that we are homeschooling. She has occasional play dates, but it is SUCH an ordeal to try to organize these! So I have been very worried that she doesn't have more friends or time with the couple of friends she does have. Hearing all these posts has made me feel SO much better - now I can relax and just not worry about it for a couple of years and just let things flow they way they will.
    Working mom homeschooling DD (7) who is working on a 3rd-4th grade level and keeps me hopping!

  11. #10
    Senior Member Evolved mpippin's Avatar
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    Tuna is 9 1/2 years old and still prefers the company of her family over peers. She only needs short bursts of time spent with kids her age -- about three hours a week is plenty for her, and that's including the hour and a half she spends at girl scouts. She hosts the occasional sleepover but needs several days to herself afterward. Some people just don't need as much social interaction, or they derive exactly what they need at home. I think it's okay.

    Bay - high school? How the hell did that happen?
    Tuna - upper elementary

    The Eclectic Education of Terrific Tuna

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4.5yo- need social or friends?