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View Full Version : 4.5yo- need social or friends?



Kerry Schwarz
02-08-2013, 02:15 PM
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?

Stella M
02-08-2013, 09:16 PM
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.

TriciaJ
02-08-2013, 10:13 PM
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.

KristinK
02-08-2013, 10:18 PM
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.

Stella M
02-08-2013, 10:33 PM
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.

melissa
02-08-2013, 11:01 PM
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!

CatInTheSun
02-09-2013, 12:41 AM
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.

rueyn
02-09-2013, 09:36 AM
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!).

Starkspack
02-09-2013, 11:32 AM
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. :)

mpippin
02-09-2013, 11:38 AM
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.

Pibroch
02-09-2013, 11:56 AM
My almost 5 year old plays constantly with his big brother, but he's never been one to play with others that much. In group, parented sessions, he used to play exclusively with me. In cross-country skiing this year he has no wish to participate in the games with the other kids and parents. But he seems to be doing really well in his dance class - but he's not expected to "play" with the other kids there.

My oldest was different. He seemed social from the day he was born. But I relate to my youngest because I was painfully shy as a child. I know that I've turned out okay (at least I hope I have!), so I'm not particularly worried about my little guy yet ;)

And you ladies who breastfed past the 2 years old that mine both self-weaned at, you rock!

snowpeople5
02-09-2013, 12:25 PM
I don't know if I'll make you feel better or not, but here goes:

I was the kind of kid that never seemed to crave interaction with my peers. I liked hanging out with adults. My mom put me in "day care" (or equiavavelnt of that where I am from) when I was 4 bc 1) she was CONVINCED that I needed to learn how to socialize with other kids and 2) bc she is such an extravert and so loved going to daycare/sleep-away camps herself when she was a kid that couldn't possibly imagine anything different. Well, I HATED IT. I puked EVERY.SINGLE.DAY when I was there, for the whole 3 yrs. I was bored out of my mind with kids my own age, I wanted to be home with my grandma who lived with us. I didn't want any part of that "socialization". It didn't do ANYTHING for me. It didn't teach me anything, it didn't help me with anything.

Fast forward a "few" decades to now. I am perfectly fine in dealing with people, but to this day, I don't crave it. I've had a fairly successful career, I have friends and do all the other "normal" things, but I still get along much better with people a bit older than me. I still am 100% fine doing things by myself, even things like traveling or going out to eat. I am just OK being with me. Don't get me wrong, I used to love going out to bars and dance clubs and I also traveled with my friends and I love a good party and I LOVE to entertain, but again, I am so so very much OK being by myself. Unlike my mom, if given a choice, will ALWAYS pick "company" vs being by herself.

I don't think you can teach/force kids to socialize. Some want it, like it - some don't. I think as long as they are raised with basic understanding of what is appropriate/polite, etc - that's about all you can do.

I have 3 boys. My oldest is me - he is 4.5 and I think we had 1 playdate so far. He has tremendous imagination and plays just fine either by himself or with his other brother. He is getting more comfortable around other kids, but it has taken him awhile. He still doesn't talk to people he doesn't know. It takes him time to get comfortable with that.

My almost 3 yr old is completely different, although raised is the same environment. He'll talk to a door knob and will be waving "hi and bye' to strangers.

And they are so close in age, that even my oldest doesn't know the life without siblings, so it's not like he was used to being an only child, etc.

So, enjoy your little one and let her be :)

ETA: just wanted to add - I was never shy, and I don't like when people say that about my oldest. Some people just don't "need" socialization all that much, kwim?

rueyn
02-10-2013, 09:37 AM
I'm linking up our experience with introversion and shyness (http://angelabwade.com/non-fiction-samples/why-parents-should-listen-to-their-gut-pdf/). It took me about four years to realize they were two completely separate things :o , but I've become a bit more comfortable with them as time goes on. Not to say I don't ever worry...

Oh, and the Highly Sensitive Person book was VERY helpful for us, too, as were books that described "peers" in relation to interest, not age.

Starkspack
02-20-2013, 03:13 AM
I'm linking up our experience with introversion and shyness (http://itsworkingforme.com/2012/05/19/why-parents-should-listen-to-their-gut/). It took me about four years to realize they were two completely separate things :o , but I've become a bit more comfortable with them as time goes on. Not to say I don't ever worry...

Oh, and the Highly Sensitive Person book was VERY helpful for us, too, as were books that described "peers" in relation to interest, not age.

OMG, Angela, I just circled back to this thread, and clicked your link to read your story. You have no idea how much this just helped me. After feeling so content after reading this thread several days ago, today we had our follow up with the psychologist - we had our DD assessed so we could gain some insight and tools for guiding her. Long story short, our beliefs were upheld (regarding her giftedness and my concerns over some of the negative aspects that often go along with giftedness), but there was a subtle and yet not-so-subtle suggestion that she needs more interaction with age-peers. This set DH and me into a bit of a tailspin, and I'm up in the middle of the night sleepless with the anxiety it has provoked. DH and I even started discussing a nearby private school which would be our first choice by a long shot if we were to consider schooling. I feel so conflicted.

So how did your post help me? Because we had almost the identical experience. When DD was 3 we tried a Montessori preschool. We had the exact scenario as you - her little spirit seemed crushed each day, she was overwhelmed by it all, despite the fact that she said she liked her teachers, and they obviously liked her. We only took her twice a week, but every time she cried miserably upon drop off. Often upon pick up she would be happy and "into" whatever she was working on (which is why we kept the faith that this would just take time), but she would come home and it felt like she needed so much time to decompress. After almost 6 months, we pulled her out - my gut said on day 1 "this is wrong - I should not be separated from my child so soon" but I ignored it. Thought I would just have to put on my big girl panties. But that feeling never went away, and finally I listened to my gut. And remarkably, when I finally approached DH to say I thought we should take her out and why, he totally agreed with me!

Being reminded of that, as well as your comments about your son's shyness (the pictures were adorable, BTW!), and re-reading this thread has really helped give me back the perspective I needed. It frustrates me to have someone (particularly a person in a position of expertise) give me "advice" that I don't really agree with, but yet it makes me feel all squirmy like "WTH do *I* know??" and all filled with self-doubt.

So thank you and thanks again to all who posted here, for it has really brought me back to center on all this. <big sigh>

rueyn
02-20-2013, 08:32 AM
I'm so glad it helped!! Your descriptions of your daughter, especially concerns over giftedness, sound SO much like my son.

I will tell you that only now, at age almost-7, is he able to feel semi-comfortable conversing with other kids. He's usually fine around adults, though he can and does still get shy there. But with kids he has to find one that's old enough to understand where he's coming from. He won't approach younger ones at all, because he doesn't understand them. Older kids? If he finds the right one, he can talk til he's blue in the face.

It takes time, but give your daughter space to be who she is - that's the biggest lesson I've learned through all of this. That may mean she can't handle a full day of private/public school right now. That's okay! When they take in so much information, they need breaks, or they get overwhelmed (sometimes to the point of meltdown). That's one of the reasons we homeschool.

And remember (this is a BIG one!): a PEER doesn't have to be the same age. "Peer" just means someone who's on equal standing. My son wants and does best around intellectual peers, not age-based ones.

(hugs)

Cynthia Williford
03-03-2013, 10:41 PM
My dd is 4, and she's involved in a lot of activities because she has a lot of interests. Still, I see the same pattern of parallel play, and it doesn't worry me at all. My 12 yo ds is gifted, and dd is showing the same cycle of development that he presented with. We're all introverts in my family, and what is most important to me is that the kids learn to be comfortable in their own skins. I take cues from my daughter about her social needs. She likes all of the activities with other kids, but prefers to be on the periphery or to do her own thing while she's among them. I don't push her to do otherwise. Mostly, she wants 1 special person to talk to who gets her, and I am fortunate to have found a woman with kids the same age as my own who are fairly similar. When all of the kids are together in an environment in which they feel comfortable, they all blossom.

Just as an aside, when I was a little girl, my family lived in various places in Europe. I didn't have any friends, really, outside of my sister, but I don't remember feeling lonely. My mother made my days delightful with music, books, cooking, puppets, crafts and more. My mind was engaged and my heart was full.

Starkspack
03-04-2013, 09:15 AM
I'm so glad it helped!! Your descriptions of your daughter, especially concerns over giftedness, sound SO much like my son.

I will tell you that only now, at age almost-7, is he able to feel semi-comfortable conversing with other kids. He's usually fine around adults, though he can and does still get shy there. But with kids he has to find one that's old enough to understand where he's coming from. He won't approach younger ones at all, because he doesn't understand them. Older kids? If he finds the right one, he can talk til he's blue in the face.

It takes time, but give your daughter space to be who she is - that's the biggest lesson I've learned through all of this. That may mean she can't handle a full day of private/public school right now. That's okay! When they take in so much information, they need breaks, or they get overwhelmed (sometimes to the point of meltdown). That's one of the reasons we homeschool.

And remember (this is a BIG one!): a PEER doesn't have to be the same age. "Peer" just means someone who's on equal standing. My son wants and does best around intellectual peers, not age-based ones.

(hugs)

Angela and others - here is a related question. "Sheltering" also came up in the conversation with the psychologist. I can't recall what brought it up, but I gave examples such as Disney movies like "Lion King." They make my DD distraught, and so we try to be careful to not expose her to these sorts of things. She has also gotten quite worked up previously when she started asking about death, parents dying, things of that nature. So our approach has always been to answer her questions as honestly as we can, but as age-appropriately as we can. At some point the woman stated that we can't "shelter" her forever, and that at some point we are going to have to let her have experiences that will help her learn about the world, yadda yadda, and build inner defenses.

I would say that my immediate reaction and instinct was "seriously?" In this world, there is so much negativity and nasty folk. I figure eventually DD WILL be exposed to it, so what is wrong with a little bit of sheltering? I say let her have as long an "innocent childhood" as possible. I'm not locking her in a closet, for pete's sake - I'm just noticing her sensitivities and then trying to not overly exacerbate them with unnecessary exposure.

This plays a role in this whole socializing scenario - choosing friendship opportunities that aren't going to run afoul of trying to keep her exposure to things at a minimum. (i.e. playmates whose parents think it is totally ok to watch certain movies or play certain video games)

What say you? Am I being naive and silly, or is there some merit to mindful exposure (or lack of, as the case may be) to the harsher realities of life? I'm also trying not to be overly defensive on all these issues that I am finding (upon continual replay in my head) that I firmly disagree with the psychologist on. But I am finding myself being very defensive. :)

CrazyCatWoman
03-05-2013, 04:26 PM
Oh, don't get me started on "Sheltering"! My neighbor accused me of it, and said that she didn't have the luxury of it, because she was a teen mom. (She was over 20 at the time.) Long story short, she invited many people into her home, and they would not talk appropriately around my kids, so I wouldn't let my kids in her house, even though the daughter was my daughter's best friend. It came out a year ago that one of those friends sexually abused the girl.

My son also can't watch emotional movies. He leaves the room, which is why he has only seen one movie at the theater in his 10 years. And he cried through that one. Turns out, we found out, that LOTS of other kids are like this - and can't handle mature tv, even if that mature TV is the March of the Penguins.

Let her be who she is. She will be fine. Socializing kids this age is something new. They used to stay home with mom, not go off to school as soon as they were out of diapers. Living where you are, without much social action IS her normal. She doesn't know different and she will adjust just fine to her new normal when you move back home.

crunchynerd
03-06-2013, 12:23 AM
Starkspack,
A generation ago, everyone knew that 3 year old children were not supposed to be separated from their mothers. Crying and clinging if they were, was NORMAL. When my mom was a kid, kindergarten was not the usual thing...some people did it, but not certainly all, and it was the consensus that 5 years old was too little to be away from their mothers all day. Even in the 70's when I was in Kindergarten, it was either mornings, or afternoons, not all day, because 5 was too young for all day away from Mama. Everyone knew that!

Your psychologist is just a human being, nothing more nor less, and as such, is as susceptible to cultural norms dictating his take on reality, as anyone. We'd like to believe that people with lots of letters after their names are wiser, or smarter, or more aware, and some may be. But for the most part, letters after your name usually just means, you paid to go to X school, and you didn't flunk out, and therefore were qualified for this sort of job instead of that sort of job. That's it.

A few decades ago, you couldn't have found a psychologist who would have suggested that any 4 year old ought to be subjected to violent images. What a difference sliding norms make!

"Sheltering them?! What are you gonna accuse me of next, feeding and clothing them?!"

Don't let the unexamined, culturally-driven biases of someone dubbed an expert, knock you off your center in knowing what's right for your child. It would be amazing what opposing viewpoints you could harvest, if you interviewed enough of them, especially if you stepped outside our culture, or looked at our culture in other eras.

crunchynerd
03-06-2013, 12:53 AM
Also worth noting, about content: I have found stark differences in what is deemed acceptable for young children to view, in the US, and in the UK. We have found so much quality, appropriate, non-harmful content from BBC and BBC Canada, yet past the 90's for the release date, I find almost nothing for little kids, produced in America, that is actually appropriate.

I trusted a "G" rating on the Disney movie "Anastasia" once, and in the first few minutes of the movie, my 3 year old son got to see a Cossack soldier butting a little boy's head in with a rifle, before I had a chance to switch it off, in shock. No, there weren't brains everywhere, but that is just sick on any scale, to call that fine for all ages, no parental guidance necessary.
I don't even bother with American-made junk anymore, and my kids don't like it, the few times we've tried it.

The norms depicted, of siblings hating each other, parents being so immature, materialistic, and narcissistic, that they seem annoyed by the fact that they even have kids, etc. is really easy to get really queasy on.

The argument that sheltering the very young is bad, because they ought not to be sheltered their whole lives, is about as silly as fallacies get. While they are very young, their sensitivities can be harmed and their minds blunted, by exposure to violence, even if only images of depicted violence. The science is there, on this.

RachelC
03-06-2013, 11:55 AM
The norms depicted, of siblings hating each other, parents being so immature, materialistic, and narcissistic, that they seem annoyed by the fact that they even have kids, etc. is really easy to get really queasy on.

The argument that sheltering the very young is bad, because they ought not to be sheltered their whole lives, is about as silly as fallacies get. While they are very young, their sensitivities can be harmed and their minds blunted, by exposure to violence, even if only images of depicted violence. The science is there, on this.

I agree with this, so much. And I despise that comment: you can't shelter them their whole lives. Well, duh, who said I wanted to? It is ridiculous, like saying, why are you changing that baby's diaper? Or feeding it? Or carrying it? You can't do that for the kid its whole life, you know. Obviously, it is part of a gradual process. Infuriating.

RachelC
03-06-2013, 11:59 AM
Also, this is why I don't like a lot of 'kid' movies, and books, like the Berenstain Bears. I don't like depicting sibling fighting as the norm, either. Or those Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer, the ones that often are titled "Just..." That little critter is depicted as a normal kid, always getting in trouble, being sneaky, etc. Those are not the values I want my children to aspire to. Annoying. I get that the idea is to have a character that kids can relate to, but my kids are not sneaky (yet), and I'm not trying to give them any ideas ;)

Starkspack
03-06-2013, 04:48 PM
I appreciate the feedback, and yet again, the confirmation. Being a mom is so challenging, and when ANYONE (i.e. relatives, friends, professionals with letters after their names) make comments/suggestions, it is so easy to start in with the self doubt. I really do work to just listen to my own intuition - does this seem RIGHT, in a given situation - but often I can still be tempted to doubt myself. It has been super helpful to come to this board and hear from others that I'm not crazy, and moreover, probably dead right in my thinking.

So I will just go on sheltering my DD as long as it seems reasonable and applicable. I agree with the above posters that don't like the kids' movies and TV shows - I'm astounded sometimes at what is put out there as suitable for kids.