Am I preventing DD from learning to be sociable?(14 Posts)
Boring back story: DD's about 23 months. I had PND after she was born, exacerbated by moving to a new country when she was 4 months old. As a result, I didn't take her to any mother and baby groups or anything like that, as I didn't feel capable of being sociable (even though I knew I probably should, for her sake). I spent a while back home this summer, and DD was able to hang out with my friends' kids there, but now we're back in a different city in the new country, and I'm finding it hard again to bring myself to get out and join toddler groups. Most days we'll stay at home in the morning and then go out to a playground or the library in the afternoon, but she doesn't really interact with other children there, and I don't speak to other parents (when there are any). I'm worried that she won't learn how to socialise with other children, and that I'm setting a bad example for her. Is there some cut-off age after which it's hard for children to learn how to make friends and play with others?
(Should also add that in this town, most of the toddler groups and activities seem to be on the other side of town, a car journey away, and I don't drive and we can't afford a car.)
Well most kids under 3 don't truly play with each other.
Has your depression been treated? Because you sound very low still. For your own sake I would try and get this sorted out. Can you afford nursery sessions?
I agree with Creature that you still sound low, and quite lonely. Are you in the uk?
No, I'm in the US (and about to go to bed! ) The depression was never treated - I think a lot of it was situational, because as it got closer to the time to come back to the UK, it started to lift. It's just hard being in a new place again and not knowing anyone, and I've never been very good at self-motivating! We're on a really tight budget at the moment, unfortunately, so I don't think I could afford to send her to a nursery.
Oh dear, you sound so sad. It's hard being in a new country, although its never easier than when you have small children - I've done it with and without, and without is way harder. At least there's not a language barrier.
To be bluntly honest, I think you will need to start socialising for your DD's sake soon, whether that's informally in the library or formally in a toddlers group. She'll start school at 6 (I think) and a lot of the soft skills necessary for that come from mixing with other children and learning to share toys, take turns etc.
It's not too late - maybe see what's on locally, or find another mum that lives nearby
I think kids can be a great way to meet people and you sound as if you would really benefit from making some mum friends for you and some play pals for your DD.
I would suggest looking into public transport if you can't drive or could you ride a bike there?
Once you have been a few times you might meet someone who lives on your side of town and can meet up with?
Sorry for not replying sooner - I do agree that I should try socialising for her sake, I just seem to have lost the ability to make small talk! At the moment, getting dressed and getting out of the house seem to be as much as I can manage. Will she be able to catch up with these soft skills if I start trying to get to more toddler activities soon?
My son is very close in age to your DD. At this age they really just need to potter about with their main caregiver/usually mum. They don't really play together at this age and she is young enough that the dominant idea and drive in her mind is to make sure she stays pretty close to mum! Everything else is secondary.
At some point, perhaps between 3 and 4, you will prob notice that that is no longer the all encompassing drive of your DDs life - she will have matured enough to know that she can be apart from you and that you will return, she can understand time concepts better. At that point her mind is freed up from the context attachment issue, so that she can really get involved in playing imaginatively and pottering around (by herself) and also forging friendships. I noticed with my DD that it was at some point after 3 that her friends really began to mean a lot to her in the kind of way that our friends matter to us. Before that, other children were around and sometimes interesting, but she didn't have a relationship with them as such.
That's not to say they can't form relationships at around 2 - my son has a little friend we see a lot of, he knows her name, he blows her kisses. But he doesnt play with her as such, nor does he have a "friendship" with her. I suspect in a years time though, we might start to see that developing.
So I would say you have got a year or so to find your feet before you perhaps have to make yourself find friends for your DD.
Ive taken my son to various activities this week to try them out, but my overwhelming conclusion is that he is too young at nearly 23 months. Toddler activities like football, gymnastics, art clubs are hard work even if you don't have PND and are a naturally outgoing type, because you have to try and cajole them into doing the activity and fitting in with the class, not easy at this age. I think I am going to leave most of the activities for the moment and just potter about with my son and have coffee with friends. When he is three, he will be much more suited to classes.
I would start with something like a toddler group, where your DD can hopefully just play at your feet and you can have a coffee and chat. You could then invite a nice mum out for a coffee or round to yours to play with their child.
PS, if you know anything about attachment theory you'll also know that you don't make children confident and sociable just by putting them in social situations at an early age. IME confident and sociable children, who can manage social situations well and make friends easily, being neither too shy or too over the top and pushy/aggressive, are those who had a very solid attachment to their main caregiver/mum in the earliest years when that was the most important developmental thing in their life. By being there with your DD you are really doing the best thing and giving her a great gift for the future.
I agree with others, when they are that small, children don't really play with each other. They do like to look at each other. Especially they study older children quite carefully. I think if your dc is around you, seeing you chat and interact with people as you go about your business (greeting neighbours, chatting with shopkeepers, that type of thing), that is ok for now.
If you are still in the US when she starts kindergarten class which I think is aged 5, she will be ready for other children. In the meantime, from about 3-5 it would be nice if she could have an opportunity to be around other children, in particular to play with other children. Maybe when she is 3ish, try some children's activity and invite around other dc from there if you have the impression they get along.
My dh has been the main carer for our youngest 2 - he absolutely hates mother and toddler groups etc. (the clue is in the name I think) and didn't take our children to anything like that. He took them to places he liked to go to like museums, gardens etc. which they loved. I don't think they interacted with anyone else there, just had lots of time with dad. They are 6 and 14 now and have no problem socialising with friends. I think mother and toddler groups are more for the benefit of the mums than the children anyway (and there's nothing wrong with that!). Reading your post I think the bigger issue is your need to have some friends - looking after small children can be quite isolating. So yes, I think you should try to join a toddler group or similar to get to know a few people.
Thanks, all, for the reassurance. I will try and get out to more things - just stuck in a bit of a vicious circle atm, because I've got no social confidence so I avoid having to meet new people and then I feel crapper! But refusing to get out and do anything isn't going to help that...
I also hated the thought of mother and toddler groups. partly a confidence thing and partly just shuddering at tge thought of having to make chit chat with people whom i had nothing in common with other than parenthood. however, there were days when I just felt like for my sanity and ds's social skills I should bite the bullet. personally I just went along and let ds do his thing and chatted with other mums here and there. I didnt treat it as a friend making mission, but just for ds to have opportunity to kid with other kids. if you're going for your dds benefit you dont need to worry about your own feelings iyswim. and you might get a pleasant surprise if you find yourself chatting with someone you actually like, I did! it is hard though to make yourself do things. and I agree your dd will be fine with just you for time being. as long as you're going out and exploring the world with her she'll be happy. if shes naturally outgoing she'll automatically gravitate towards other children... thats what my ds did anyway and forced me into 'mum' friendships!
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