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To worry about my four year old's social skills? (be kind!)

(16 Posts)
awkwardas78 Sun 10-Jan-16 21:58:44

My dd is nearly four and when she's at home with me and her dad she's very articulate, lively, smart and funny. However she's not like this at all with other children. She won't interact with them at all - if they talk to her she turns away and at pre-school she plays alongside others but not with them. She has a special friendship with another little boy who I look after sometimes, which is encouraging but I really do worry for her starting school next year. The other children are so much more at ease with each other and they've stopped bothering with her, which is rather sad.

She's always been wary of other children right from being a toddler when she was taken to toddler groups but I was a SAHM so she's perhaps not been socialised as much as other children who have attended nurseries for long periods. I was always shy so I guess she's inherited my character a little.

Am I right to worry and is there anything I can do?

Devora Sun 10-Jan-16 22:05:12

When my dd was 4 I posted almost the same thing on MN - and, from what I described, I got a number of suggestions that she may be on the spectrum. People were saying this in RL too - my mum wanted to get her statemented, and her preschool suggested she wouldn't cope with mainstream schooling. She couldn't cope with other children at all - if one came near her she would freeze, with tears pouring down her face. I was worried sick.

She is now 10 and doing great - still shy and quiet at school, but plenty of friends, parties, playdates. It is hard to believe how much she has changed.

Now, my child is not your child, and it would be foolish to suggest that as mine is fine yours will be too. But I do think you can take hope from how very much their social skills can develop from the age of 4.

3littlebadgers Sun 10-Jan-16 22:05:54

Try not to make an issue out of it, but praise her when she makes even the smallest of efforts, say things like, ' it must have made Katie really happy when you xyz'. Dd1 was painfully shy to the point I was worried it verged on rudeness, but now at aged 6 she has no problems interacting and has lots of little friends, although she still has her shy moments.

plantsitter Sun 10-Jan-16 22:10:11

Sounds normal for this age group. My DDs' preschool were always encouraging play dates with a planned activity like icing biscuits or something so they can do a side by side activity rather than interactive play, so perhaps you could arrange some of those?

Ambroxide Sun 10-Jan-16 22:14:25

DD was like this too. She is now a perfectly normal 9 year old with good friends. She's still likely to prefer a small group of people to a large one and can still be shy at times, but that's just who she is.

redexpat Sun 10-Jan-16 22:16:19

She might just be an introvert. Is she better in small groups and 1 on 1?

RabbitSaysWoof Sun 10-Jan-16 22:18:41

Its a shame isn't it when you know your kid is funny, bright, kind etc, but something stops them showing others.
My 3 and a half year old is like this, I was always a shy kid. I don't doubt he's happiness around other children, I think he's happy to be quiet and parallel play so I try not to make a thing of it, I suppose not everyone can be an extrovert.
The main thing is if you think she is happy to be quiet or feeling uncomfortable, I think friendships will come with maturity.

VashtaNerada Sun 10-Jan-16 22:23:42

DS is a bit like this but I'm genuinely not worried, I think he'll just mature into it. Parallel play still happens quite a lot at that age.

awkwardas78 Sun 10-Jan-16 22:23:46

Thanks all for your reassurance - it does give me hope. I love her just the way she is, I just want her to be happy. She is quite introverted I think, yes. She does enjoy parties and joins in with activities and games and is very affectionate with us and her grandparents. Her speech and awareness of others' feelings is very advanced - she just seems to physically freeze around her peers. She seems more comfortable with adults and quieter children 1 on 1 - unfortunately she turns away from her cousin of the same age when she asks her to play and this girl is over confident and comes right up into dd's face demanding to be answered!!

RabbitSaysWoof Sun 10-Jan-16 22:31:04

The cousin sound a bit intimidating for her.

Ambroxide Sun 10-Jan-16 22:31:26

Her speech and awareness of others' feelings is very advanced

That was DD too. Actually, school was much easier for her than preschool as it was more structured so she knew what she was supposed to be doing (and was often being praised for doing whatever it was as she was happy to eg sit nicely on the carpet) and the expectations are such that there is less rough and tumble than preschool or nursery. She has actually turned out fairly extrovert in the end - even though she prefers a small group of people, she thrives on chatting and social interaction and absolutely loves her close friends.

Ambroxide Sun 10-Jan-16 22:33:10

Re confident louder children, if I was around I just used to say kindly 'DD doesn't really like it when you do X so can you stop please' or similar. Most children will get that if someone doesn't like something they need to stop, IME.

awkwardas78 Sun 10-Jan-16 22:34:04

Yes I agree - her cousin very loud and bossy and a little indulged in the nicest possible way - dd won't play with her unless I join in which makes my fil get a bit cross with dd for being rude. She's just a bit intimidated though like you say.

awkwardas78 Sun 10-Jan-16 22:35:31

Wow Ambroxide that's wonderful to hear thank you for that

TracyBarlow Sun 10-Jan-16 22:38:09

My son was like this at preschool. He's in reception now and is a changed boy. He even play ps football with the year 6 children sometimes.

I wouldn't worry OP. She's very, very young and will change lots over the coming year.

Ambroxide Sun 10-Jan-16 22:44:52

No problem, hope it's reassuring! Like others have said, you will likely be amazed by how fast your DD changes over this year - it's astonishing.

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