15 answers

Micromanaging Social Life for Only Child?

My daughter is very social, but she's an only child. She does lots of sports and of course goes to our neighborhood school. I am constantly setting up playdates on her request. She has two free weekday afternoons after school. She plays with some neighbor kids, but I don't want to wear out our welcome by constantly having her ask them if they want to play. So, I try to find other kids at school for her to invite over.

My question is...how many times per week do your kids play after school?
Does anyone else have an only child? What do you do to keep them happy and socialized?
How often to you just have them play by themselves?

She's so sad when she's by herself, she just begs to invite someone over, which I usually do, but it would be nice to have her be more self-entertaining. I'm always having to plan ahead and it can be exhausting to contantly be setting up playdates 2x per week!

1 mom found this helpful

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So What Happened?™

Just to add a few details, my DD is close to 9 years old. She used to be VERY good at entertaining herself, but in the last couple of years she LOVES to be with other kids her age. I usually give in to that since she is an only child...I remember as a kid always playing with my sister and I'm sorry she doesn't have that.

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My granddaughter plays pretty much every day after school, but not a formal "playdate." I just don't really do the "playdate" thing. She can go outside and play with the neighborhood children - they are all out after homework time. She does on occasion go to friend's house after school - I guess that's a play date but we don't call it that. She's going to a friend's house after school. I only allow that every once in a while, however,. because I like her to get home and get on her homework.

She is an only child in my household, although she has one sister and three brothers (they do not live with me). She is good about entertaining herself; I am not her social director. If she says she's bored, we make suggestions, but it's up to her to find what she wants to do. Some examples of things she does are computer time, play in her room with her dollhouse, play with her DS, art projects, roller blade, bike ride, or just hang out outside.

2 moms found this helpful

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I'm an only child, and I didn't have playdates during the week. If I had time after homework, I would go out and play with the neighborhood kids. It sounds like she needs to learn to entertain herself, which all kids and people need to learn -regardless of siblings. Does she read? Is she into any sort of crafty stuff? How old is she -what toys does she like? She should be able to play with things and read.

As far as the neighbor kids -let them all decide if they want to play. If she asks them every day, and they want to -what of it? I played with the same 4 or 5 kids almost daily and all summer (or any break) long in my neighborhood growing up. Is she going into their houses?

Don't worry about "keeping her socialized." If she goes to school, has friends, plays sports, etc. -she's fine. She's not some special case because she's an only child.

3 moms found this helpful

My granddaughter plays pretty much every day after school, but not a formal "playdate." I just don't really do the "playdate" thing. She can go outside and play with the neighborhood children - they are all out after homework time. She does on occasion go to friend's house after school - I guess that's a play date but we don't call it that. She's going to a friend's house after school. I only allow that every once in a while, however,. because I like her to get home and get on her homework.

She is an only child in my household, although she has one sister and three brothers (they do not live with me). She is good about entertaining herself; I am not her social director. If she says she's bored, we make suggestions, but it's up to her to find what she wants to do. Some examples of things she does are computer time, play in her room with her dollhouse, play with her DS, art projects, roller blade, bike ride, or just hang out outside.

2 moms found this helpful

I'm an only child. I had a friend that lived on my street and we played together. When we couldn't, I played a lot in our backyard with my dog. I had barbies and matchbox cars and played with bugs and entertained myself. I think you are harming her by keeping her entertained. She needs to learn to sometimes fend for herself. Get her interested in drawing or writing stories or something like that, a hobby. My kids will randomly have neighborhood kids show up, or they will go and knock on the doors to see if they can play. If weather allows, they are always outside in the front (we live on a cul-de-sac) or they are playing indoors. When there aren't friends, my kids are good about doing their own thing if they aren't playing together. My son, the youngest, has the hardest time if his sister wants a break from him. But I just help him figure out something to do and he's good. So I would tell her she needs to have some time on her own. It will benfit her when she gets older and can be more independent. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Our only child is our 17 yr old daughter. NO regrets at all, ever.

I never micromanaged her social life, things always fell into place. We are in a nice neighborhood with lots of kids her age (same house 11 yrs) and the neighborhood children were always going to the park, bike trails, etc. She's always been very active in school... Honors/AP, plays the violin, cheerleader, and has earned her black belt.

When she was younger, the groups of moms in our neighborhood took turns with breakfast play dates, then afternoon playdates, etc. Nothing was really planned because we were all active outside... someone was here most days or daughter was at someone else's home.

Our daughter also enjoys her alone time. She love crafts, designing clothing, etc and the alone time was never a negative.

I let my daughter take the lead in what activities she wanted to be involved, etc. I did not want to be managing her schedule because it is her life. I just guided her and supported her.

She is very independent and thrives on responsibility and structure. I am proud of the young woman she has become. She graduates from high school in 2013 and she has played a very active role in college searches, etc since the 9th grade. Enjoy all the time you have... it flies by... Also, wide open communication is very helpful so she knows she can always come to you.

1 mom found this helpful

Give the setting up responsiblity to her. You don't have to run her social calendar. She can be the one using the phone to call up her friends and asking if they would like to come over for a playdate. She is old enough. She will learn the importance of planning ahead and having patience. Just be sure she knows in advance what days and times she has permission to invite someone over. And any rules, like one friend at a time, or only twice per week, or whatever. For us, we will only do an after school playdate on a Friday or day there is no school the next day. Or on weekends. If my kids are craving company during the week after homework is done, they go outside and play with the neighbor kids. Often neighbor friends are the quickest and easiest route to company without involving parent running around and planning, so my kids, especially more when younger, will seek them out first. It's pretty common on our street during warmer months for kids to just be outside playing. Our kids know that they are allowed to knock on the doors of their friends and ask if the friend would like to come outside to play, but we don't allow them to invite themselves in. And we don't have neighbor kids in during the weekdays either.

1 mom found this helpful

Even when my first child was an only child, I did not allow play dates during the school week. By the time we got home, did homework, ate dinner, did dishes, it was time to get ready for bed. If she is bored, maybe focus on her responsibilities as a member of the family, such as a couple of chores, help with dinner, read a book, hang out and chit chat with you guys a bit. Anything she can do to help you, will help her forget she is bored and show her responsibility at the same time.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

You didn't mention her age, but if she's in school and sports, she's getting plenty of socialization there. Of course she can have a friend over for a play date, but maybe just limit it to one a week, and only on weekends. My feeling is that she will never learn to entertain herself if you are always setting things up for her and making arrangements for play dates. Set some ground rules, say no when you have to, and let her deal. She might be sad, but oh well - she'll get over it. My daughter is 4 and would love to have an entire gang of kids to play with all the time. She's constantly asking to go to this person's house, or have this kid over, and I have to keep reminding her that we can't just do stuff with other people all the time - other kids have school, their parents work, and today, or right now, is just not a good time. I realize she is only 4, and some kids (and adults) are more extroverted than others, but I can't just keep giving into her all the time or expect others to do the same. She's getting better about it, especially the "playing on her own" thing, but some days are better than others. Just stop and learn to say no, and eventually she's going to have to figure things out on her own.

1 mom found this helpful

I have an only child who hates organized sports and really just wants to free play. We have the same problem. She is 10 now and most of the kids in this neighborhoood do scheduled sports, dance, and lessons. It is frustrating because they have a playdate right before with their teammate. They also go out of town every other weekend.

I would LOVE to do playdates twice a week for 1.5-2 hours. We found one who can play on Fridays only every other weekend. We are competing with 3 other girls for her time. We do not want to wear out our welcome either. That mom likes all day playdates which seem ridiculous to me, but I am not going to stop it since they have so much fun.

My child entertains herself most of the time. She has plenty of art projects, toys, and instruments to do so. Still, another kid makes it fun in a way Mom can't.

I found she developed friendships with multiple playdates with the same girl, but then she wanted that girl to come over weekly or more. I keep hoping someone good will move in with kids.

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