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How can I help my seemingly very bright just turned 3 yr old enjoy nursery and make friends more

(17 Posts)
skippysmum Mon 30-Jun-08 17:20:36

Posting this in g and t at someone else's suggestion so pls don't crucify me for doing so about a child so young! Also posted this in behav and dev.

Spoke to ds's keyworker today as he has been saying he is bored at nursery and doesn't know what to play with. He goes for four half days.

As a result, she observed him this morning and after offering him quite a lot of fun things to do,and him not being that interested in any of them, he just kind of sat and watched the other children, taking it all in.

He is the youngest in the class and she said she thinks he just needs to settle in and get used to everyone but he's been in that room for two months now.

He seems to much prefer the company of adults to children. He just looks like he is totally perplexed by children sometimes,especially if they are being boisterous. He copes with older children better and always seemed quite scared of toddlers when he was at the stage where they'd bash each other.

He does talk about a couple of the children at nursery 'fondly' (especially his 'girlfriend' lol) and says they are his friends but he is almost always hanging out with one of the staff when I pick him up. Maybe he doesn't really know how to talk to other kids yet or doesn't think they are very interesting?

If we have friends over to play he will only really play with them if I instigate some sort of game like hide and seek or suggest an activity but really is still more into parallel play. He'd rather hang out with me in a clingy way.

He is a thinker rather than a doer in my opinion - he likes taking everything in and is rarely boisterous or naughty (occasionally he is - I know how great this is and that I should count my blessings and do). In fact, even as a younger toddler he was always remarkably sensible - like a little adult in a child's body (I do encourage silliness and fun so please no one accuse me of encouraging this!)

He seems pretty bright - knew letters and colours before or around two, has an exceptionally good memory etc. Knows colours like turquiose and aubergine now, counts to 30 and can count up to about 15 items, starting to read a few words etc. Was a bit late getting fluent with talking but now uses sentences of up to 10 or 11 words (often less obviously).

He is very sociable with adults he knows and does imaginative play a lot (especially one particular role play game he is really into which he has made up) so I'm not too worried about ASD etc.

I guess I'm just worried he's not going to have any friends at school and will be lonely (although part of me thinks he doesn't really care that much).

I try and have friends over who are more like him so he doesn't freak out at super-boisterous kids but maybe it should be the other way round to get used to them?

Does anyone have a similar sounding child? What can I do to help??

belgo Mon 30-Jun-08 17:24:15

Sounds very normal to me ....three year olds don't really make 'friends' (well some do, but mostly they don't. They play along side each other then with each other.

It doesn't sound like he's bored if he's watching other children doing things. That's just his way, a 'thinker' as you say.

partaria Mon 30-Jun-08 18:53:49

Sounds like my ds2 was at the same age. More an observer and thinker than a child who would muck in socially and just get on with making friends. Similarly knew colours inc subtle shades at an early age. Could read early etc. he is now 13 and has a few loyal friends from way back in reception, and has made many more along the way too ! Quietly popular rather than life and soul. Academic star too (going to a top London boys' school in September).

I am very proud of my son, and really think you should relax (easier said than done !) and let yours be the character he is, and not worry that he won't be popular. Don't have super boisterous children over with a view to helping your son; would you deliberately hang out with adults who were socially your opposite ?

skippysmum Mon 30-Jun-08 20:30:41

I think you're right Partaria - it's not going to change his view of them and might just make him more nervous of other not so boisterous kids too.

I have to say I think some of my worries about him not becoming a social outcast (!) is down to the fact I so was a social outcast as a child and I don't want that for him.

SeasideLil Fri 04-Jul-08 11:25:32

Many three year olds haven't really moved on to proper interactive play. My two and three-quarter year old only plays alongside, not with, other children of the same age and wouldn't initiate a game of her own accord, although she is more than happy to be the follower if older children start the game. Plus some children are more watchful observers and some like being in the thick of it. I wouldn't worry about him socially just yet, I think that you might be projecting your own fears about school onto him. I've done it myself, anxiously watching to see if they are popular or socially skilled until my DH pointed out that this was actually more about me than them!!!! He'll find his own way to make friends when he's ready developmentally, so all you can do is relax about school and not keep asking him anxiously 'who did you play with today?' like I used to do!

Frideswide Fri 04-Jul-08 15:15:30

Skippysmum, your DS sounds just like mine! Is he an only child or the eldest? He may find talking to other children really frustrating at the moment. We had a problem with this - when ds1 was 3 he found the other 3 year olds couldn't talk to him in the way he wanted, and the "big boys" weren't interested in chatting to one of the little ones. This got much better once the other kids caught up a bit, though it's still true that he's happiest chatting to the adults.

skippythedogfromthesea Fri 04-Jul-08 15:54:50

Frides - he is an only child.
If I ask him if he talks to the other children he says "they don't answer" (probably because I imagine he asks questions that are 'odd' although not sure what other 3 year olds talk about anyway maybe they all do this...)

He is still a little hard to understand sometimes as his pronunciation isn't perfect (normal I know) so maybe that doesn't help.

katierocket Fri 04-Jul-08 15:58:20

When I read your first post, particularly the bit about him prefering the company of adults, my first question was going to be, is he any only child? I only say that because my DS1 was exactly like this at this age and I'm sure some of it was because he was didn't have the chaos and noise of a family with more than one child, he just wasn't used to it and i think it perplexed him a bit (even though he was very used to other children of his age, we went to loads of groups and he was in nursery 2 days a week from 6 months old).

legalalien Fri 04-Jul-08 16:10:04

I have a 3 1/2 year old pretty much the same as this. Talk to adults? fine. Talk to older children? fine. Talk to 3 and 4 year olds? not a hope in hell. A five year old suggesting some sort of imaginative game has a reasonable chance of a response.

DH is a bit worried about this - me not so much so as I was exactly the same at about this age. I remember being exactly the same at about this age. Once I got to school and the "group" thing was a bit more structured, I was fine.

(if he likes toy aeroplanes and you're in London, maybe you could bring him round to our place and we can test DS and him out together! I am now on month EIGHT of DS's WWII aircraft obsession and HAVE HAD ENOUGH)

skippythedogfromthesea Fri 04-Jul-08 17:42:21

Legal think yourself lucky - ds's obsession is pretending to be a bin man - he fills his pretend bins/ bin bags/ recycling boxes up with 'rubbish', takes them to the top of the driveway etc.
At least there's a vague hope of another kid being interested in planes!

really reassuring that there are quite a few children like this out there. I do remember as a child thinking quite a lot of children's stuff was silly. I am looking at schools at the moment and purposefully moving towards ones with medium sized rather than tiny classes in the hope that a slightly larger class might mean there's more chance of ds finding 'soulmates'!

Frideswide Fri 04-Jul-08 20:54:20

Interesting what you say about the larger class size thing - I feel the same. My original idea was to go for the relatively small CofE primary school near us, thinking something like "small school, individual attention, everyone knows your quirks" etc, but when we actually came to going round schools, I completely changed my mind! We opted for a considerably larger school, on the basis that there would be a greater likelihood of ds1 finding other children on his wavelength, and also more books in the library, more opportunities for stretching him etc. Well that's the theory...

Hope your ds settles better at nursery as time goes on. If he does learn to read early that may help, as it would give him something purposeful to do by himself. I get the impression my ds1 uses the book corner at preschool as a way of having a bit of "time out" from all the boisterousness! (Not that the staff will let him do that all the time, of course, and quite right too.)

HonoriaGlossop Fri 04-Jul-08 21:42:26

He sounds utterly normal to me! Lots of kids this age don't ackle with their peers; there's a bit I mentioned on another thread recently, in Libby Purves' book 'How not to be a perfect mother' about how actually kids look on a whole nursery group of peers with mistrust and don't enjoy it, and often love being with a mix of children, older and younger

At this age my ds would MUCH rahter play with/be with older kids and adults. Because they respond much better than three year olds; 3 yr olds are little walking 'egos' and don't see past the end of their own noses really! They all want to do what they want to do; adults make MUCH better playmates in the eyes of a 3 yr old I think!

I'd say don't look far ahead; he won't BE like this at school because he will have changed and developed and so will the other kids. It's easy to do that with kids, to worry about the future based on how they are now. But when the future comes, they're more ready for it smile

ChazsBarmyArmy Tue 08-Jul-08 00:34:09

Skippy - just a quick one to say if my 4 yo DS and his friends are anything to go by, the binman obsession is pretty universal and may well be a game he can share with another. I have seen DS climb to the top of a slide to get a better view of the bin lorry emptying a big street bin hmm

anotherdayyetanothernickname Fri 11-Jul-08 23:42:52

Have just got a fab Playmobil bin lorry for him - a massive hit.

He might be a smart chap but it makes me laugh as he wants to be a bin man when he grows up. I wouldn't mind but he'd come home so smelly!!!

tigerlily1980 Fri 18-Jul-08 22:22:26

My son was very much like this in his nursery. To make it worse his twin sister was Miss Sociable.

My son would play with older children well but could not play with children of his own age. His nursery teacher told me that it wasn't a problem and that chose to spend his time with adults or on his own. Apparently he was emotionally mature and didn't have much time for his peers, preferring only older company. The teacher reassured me that as he got older the other children would catch up with him and he'd make more friends.

He has nearly finished reception and things have turned around. He has made some great friends who are very similar to him, and is now fine with children of his own age, although still has good relationships with older kids and adults.

Your son will be fine. I worried about my son being lonely and being the child in the playground wandering round on his own, but you will probably see that its your sons choice to do that at the moment and he will find friends!

anotherdayyetanothernickame Sun 20-Jul-08 17:46:38

I shall remember your situation Tiger next time someone suggests it is because ds is an only child!

Very encouraging that it's got better with your ds.

RuthT Fri 08-Aug-08 00:07:34

Jung would just say that he has a rich inner life and doesn't need lots of external simulation.

The preference to get your energy from inner world and outer world is the first one you see in children and although they (we) are able to do both - you'll always prefer one, one is easier.

He does sound normal for this age and I agree with him some of the loud toddlers scare me!

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