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Anyone else with a child who doesn't like to join in?

(16 Posts)
JoshandJamie Wed 04-Jul-07 11:49:31

My DS is three and a half. He goes to nursery two days a week and now also goes to preschool two days a week. Whilst there, he joins in apparently.

However, whenever I've tried to take him to something like mini football or singing groups or just about anything, he refuses to join in and just wants to sit on my lap. I've always put it down to him being a fairly sensitive child, him being too young, it being a new environment.

But today was preschool sports day. It wasn't his regular day to attend but all his usual mates were there. And I'd spoken to him in advance about what sports day was and how much fun it was etc. But he refused to take part. Only at the very end when his 2 year old brother took part in the babies' race did he join in.

I feel that he misses out on so much fun because he doesn't join in (once he eventually does, he enjoys himself and then gets upset because we have to leave). But what's the best way of tackling this? Do you just leave them and let them sit on the sidelines? Do you try to cajole? Do you insist they join in (personally don't think this is right or would work in our case)?

thoughts? Anyone else's child like this?

pucca Wed 04-Jul-07 11:52:54

My dd is the same, she is 3.6 yo and is very shy when it comes to anything like singing, dancing taking part in anything really, maybe it is just the age or maybe we both have shy children i don't know.

I don't really see the point in trying to get them to join in more, as i know with dd the more you mention it the more she sticks to her guns and really doesn't want to participate, i guess i am thinking that she will grow out of it, and join in a little more when she goes to primary school, but then again i was always quiet and shy so maybe my dd takes after me!

JoshandJamie Wed 04-Jul-07 13:12:14

Pucca, glad it's not just my child. Although I don't even know if I'd say he's shy - he just seems overfaced by joining in. When I asked him why he didn't want to join in, he said it was because it was scary.

It's just so frustrating because I know that when he does join in he has so much fun. He's always been like this - since birth and going to new baby groups or anything. But I thought he was growing out of it. Obviously not. Sigh

christie1 Wed 04-Jul-07 21:20:36

I have one like this. Since you asked, my advice is let him follow his instinct. The less you push, the more he will feel you trust him to know what he can and cannot do. My child does not join in when I least expect that he will and other times he does not when I am sure he will love something. I think the more you push, the more bad he will feel about himself. But if gently encourage then back off once he is clear he would nto like to be involved, he will safe to be himself. Not everyone is an extrovert nor should htey be. I was not a group person myself, although not unfriendly and quite a joiner today if it is something I will enjoy but very clear about what I do not enjoy and don't do it. If you son is not lonely or unhappy, let him be himself.

christie1 Wed 04-Jul-07 21:22:36

sorry, meant to say, when I am sure my child willhate something and not join in, he does it! He recently was the lead in theatre show at school and was adlibbing funny lines like crazy (this from my introverted quiet one). So, you never know. I trust him to know waht he likes and doesn't like.

snowleopard Wed 04-Jul-07 21:27:48

Agree with christie. My DS is just 2 but already very like this. I take him to a music class and he just clings onto me or lounges on the floor. But I'm like it too and though I try to encourage him, I'd never force him - there's a lot to be said for enjoying your own company and wanting to do things your own way, and if that's who he is, so be it. I think he will have to learn that there are things you have to join in with, eg groupwork at school, but I'll try to be understanding.

I sometimes get the feeling my DS won't join in at things because he is at nursery 3 days a week, and when he's with me he wants to be with me, not expected to do more group stuff. Could that be true for yoours too?

Also you might find when he hits upon the right thing, he'll become more sociable for that thing. Eg I always hated team sports, doing things in groups etc - until I learned an instrument and began being in bands and orchestras which really suited me.

Earlybird Wed 04-Jul-07 21:27:58

Is he an only child?

DD is an only, and she was quite clingy/shy at that age and didn't want to join in. Don't know if she simply grew out of it, or if school helped her confidence, but she is much more prepared to join in now. Oh, we also did lots and lots of playdates - which may have helped too.

JoshandJamie Wed 04-Jul-07 22:10:37

Hi all

thanks for the responses. My son isn't an only child - he's got a younger brother, they're only 19 months apart. He does have friends who he's met in nursery but his best friends are those who've been around the longest i.e. part of the ante-natal group.

Weirdly he seems fine to meet new people, it's just the joining in for a group event that seems to freak him out. For example, he joined a new preschool and settled in on day 1 with no problem. I thought he would be really clingy, but he wasn't. But I think that's because he doesn't have to do anything specific. He can just find an activity that he enjoys and get on with it. It's when there's an expectation of him or a feeling that everyone's doing it and therefore he should that he fights against it.

It doesn't really worry me - although I do find it slightly frustrating - but I am concerned about when he goes to school and there is a more structured disciplined approach to having to do things.

My response when he gets like this is to gently nudge, explain why it would be fun, offer to let him join in, ask if he'd like me to join in with him. But then just leave him. I might try again after 10 mins or so and he eventually decides it's not so terrible after all and joins in, albeit reluctantly, until he feels confident. I just wish I knew of a more sure fire way of getting him involved more quickly.

jaynehater Wed 04-Jul-07 22:20:02

Maybe he just feels more comfortable doing things on his own terms - there's no reason he can't thrive at school on that basis providing the staff 'get' him - maybe he's not as scared as you think, just needs to approach it from his own angle. DD2 spent toddlers hauling her snack to the corner of the room and eating it with her back to everyone, and nursery reports that she has an 'individualised' (! brat !) approach to tasks, yet she's better settled with the idea of school, and in my opinion, much better equipped, than DD1. It's hard when you know they're capable of so much, and would have so much fun if they just joined, but these march to a different drum types probably have a highly individual future ahead of them (don't do anything to shatter my positive spin, please....dd2's been messing with my head since birth and this is the only tolerable way of dealing with her view of the world !)

stealthsquiggle Wed 04-Jul-07 22:24:52

My DS was exactly the same. We would go to parties/ nursery fairs / whatever and he would decide to join in 5 mins before it was all over and then get upset that it was over - I tried cajoling, threatening and eventually resorted to just ignoring it. At somewhere around rising 4 (I forget when exactly - so just older than your DS) we went to yet another party and he took off as soon as we got through the door without a backward glance!! He still takes a while to warm up in new situations, but seems to have realised that he risks missing out on the fun.

I think what I am saying is "it's a phase - he may well just grow out of it"

chevre Wed 04-Jul-07 22:25:05

my dd is like this, she is 3 1/2. i remember being in agonies over this sor tof thing when i was a child so tried really hard to make her more of a joiner but she is just the way she is. weirdly she enjoys going to parties and things but just wants to observe.

i agree with posters who say you can't force it, they are little people with v. strong ideas.

3littlefrogs Thu 05-Jul-07 17:56:59

Relax. It is normal. He will get comfortable with joining in at his own pace. Ds1 was like this - until he was about 7. He is now very sociable, very popular, very confident and outgoing. His list for his 18th birthday party had 200 names on it. HTH

ProfYaffle Thu 05-Jul-07 18:15:02

My dd1 is 3.2 and exactly the same. She takes an age to warm up in a social situation but she does eventually, I think she needs the toddler equivalent of a couple of glasses of wine, whatever that may be!

I've nothing constructive to add to the excellent advice already on here but just wanted you to know it's not unusual (just feels like it sometimes when your dc is the only one hanging around the edge) I worry about school as well, she's fine at nursery now but it took her 2 terms to fully settle down and find some friends.

JoshandJamie Thu 05-Jul-07 18:32:09

ok 3littlefrogs - you just scared me with that birthday party list

pirategirl Thu 05-Jul-07 20:33:21

my daughter is 5 and doesnt like to be organised or cajoled at all.

my mum used to try and 'make me' and i hated it, then she fessed up that she hated party games etc.. when she was little, and was trying to help me by 'encouraging me'

leave well alone i'd say!!!! they will one day, and if not its not such a bad thing. even now i stand back in certain situations, i'm not a big joiner innerer!

jackie2kids Fri 06-Jul-07 12:47:12

DS is the same. If appropriate I try to join in too (ie get on the bouncy castle at the pary) then slip away.

Otherwise we sit and watch together.

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