16 answers

My 3 Yr Old Is Antisocial

My 3 yr old daughter will not play with any kids her own age. My best friend has a little girl 2 months older than mine and every time we visit each other my daughter refuses to play with her daughter. She will not even acknowledge her. She is like this with all children around her own age. No matter what the other kids are doing my daughter is always off by herself playing, even if the other children are participating in the same ativities she is she would still rather be off by herself playing. My best friend is really starting to get her feelings hurt b/c of the way my daughter acts to hers. I tell my daughter all the time to be nice to Savannah (My best friends little girl) and to share with her and she slawys says she will, but once they're together she goes straight to ignoring her. She loves kids older than her, like my niece who is almost 8 and my Godson who is 10. She loves to play with them and talk to them yet totally ignores kids her own age and on the same level as her. Any suggestions on how to get her to play with kids her age would be greatly appreciated.

What can I do next?

Featured Answers

I think it is common for children her age to engage in parallel play, you may want to research at what developmental stage this type of play is typically seen and what behaviors are characteristic with it. Just a side note: I have noticed that my 15 month enjoys playing with older kids more and I think it is because the older children know how to make the play about the little one, while children of the same age have a more self- centered world rather than an other- centered world.

More Answers

I wouldn't force her to play with someone she apparently doesn't like playing with. Let her play with the older children she likes (although I guess I could see possible potential problems in the future as a preteen if she continues to hang out with kids older than her, but not necessarily). When I was a kid I didn't always like the kids my age, I preferred the company of adults. When I was in first grade I thought most of the children in my class and my age on the playground were immature - I thought it was stupid the way they made fun of some kids and I thought their games were stupid. I was into reading and studying science even from that age. Some people develop at different levels. If I were you, I'd let her be herself. I don't think forcing her to play with the girls you want her to play with will do her any good, unless maybe it would get her accustomed to playing with kids her age so when she goes to school she will be used to it, otherwise she'd have a class full of kids she has no interest in??? I don't know if that would be a problem or not. Anyway that's what I would do, but I am different than some parents in that I don't want to mold my daughter into something I want her to be; instead I will allow her the freedom to grow into her own person. But if you are really worried about it, maybe you should have a chat with some teachers or elementary school counselor, etc. to see if they have seen problems in class with children who don't like playing with kids their age. But personally I think it would be fine.

Could it be she is shy? Being quite shy myself as a child I can tell you it can be painful wanting to play with other kids, but are crippled by shyness. Depending on how often you get together with your friend and her daughter it may just take a little time for her to warm up to her. I wouldn't push her, just give her plenty of opportunities to play with kids her own age. Difficult for me to give advice-my daughter is the complete opposite, she goes up to strangers at the park and say "hi, do you want to play with me?" It took her longer to get to this point than I've seen in other kids her age, so give your daughter some time. The new baby could have something to do with it-no sure how.

That is so funny I just went through the same thing on a smaller scale i guess, My 1 1/2 yr old only wanted to play with my 4 and 5 year olds and thier freinds. She has plenty of her own and just would not give them the time of day. Even to go so far as to be mean and push them ect. But i made an effort to only hang out with them a few times and the older ones played with them as well now her "girlfreinds" are the only ones she will play with now. So give that a try and reassure your freind it isn't going to last long I am sur eshe will grow out of it. Big kids are just so much more fun to watch!

The first thing that comes to mind is to make sure you and the other child's mom are actively engaging them in play - all four of you playing together. Board games are great for getting toddlers to interact with one another (Candy Land Castle, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, etc.). Your daughter may just need to see that you can play with the child, so she can, too.

Hey N.,

When my son was that age he did the same thing. He actually preferred older children and did not really want to play with the other children his own age. It was almost like children his own age frustrated him by taking toys etc and that the older children actually knew how to play. He is now four going on five and has no problems really with playing with other children his own age. I think she will be just fine but if you are worried just call her pediatrician.

She doesn't sound anti-social to me - she just prefers older kids. Sounds to me like she's just a bit advanced for her age.

I am not a professional by any means but my guess would be because she does stay at home with you, she just hasn't learned how to play with kids her age. If she is around older kids most of the time she has just learned to communicate with them. It doesn't mean that she is anti-social. I think if she was allowed to be around kids her age more often..like at church or a mommys day out. I think she would learn to develope her social skills with kids her age. My mother owned a in home daycare for 16 yrs and always said that at 3yrs old it was time for the kids to go to daycare because of the social skills that they would learn being around kids there own age. My only advice would be if you could allow your daughter to go to a mommy's day out a couple of times a week not only would it be good for her and fun too but you would get some you time...which is always great in my opinion. Best of luck to you and your family!!

One of my boys was like this and he grew out of it but one thing that worked with both of them was reverse psychology. We would forbid him to do something that we wanted him to do and he would eventually sneak around and do it. We might say, "whatever you do, do NOT play with Savannah!" "Don't let me catch you playing with Savannah!" It was really funny because he didn't take it as a threat but more of a challenge.

Maybe encouraging her to play with these kids is having the opposite effect. ???

Good luck.

I think it is common for children her age to engage in parallel play, you may want to research at what developmental stage this type of play is typically seen and what behaviors are characteristic with it. Just a side note: I have noticed that my 15 month enjoys playing with older kids more and I think it is because the older children know how to make the play about the little one, while children of the same age have a more self- centered world rather than an other- centered world.

Your daughter is not antisocial. You may be asking something from her that is beyond her stage of development. Most pre-school-age children do not interact with each other very much. They do what is called parallel play. They play with toys by themselves and once in a while they might go over and try to take a toy from someone else who is also playing independently. This is normal, age-appropriate behavior. They do not understand 'sharing' or how it is you want them to 'be nice.' And on top of this she may also be naturally introverted. The older children engage her on a different level because of how they respond to her. I think your problem is with your friend's expectations about how your daughter should 'play nice' rather than what your daughter is doing. In order to show politeness, you might ask your daughter to do one thing such as say 'Hello Savannah' when they first get together (while you are right there coaching her) and then let her do whatever it is she wants to do (playing by herself). You can also encourage her to say thank-you and good-by at the end of the play-session.

I know I have not addressed how to deal with your friend, if you want some help with that, send me a message.


The others are right. Your daughter is acting at an age appropriate level. When my son was this age he went to pre-school twice a week and there would be a room full of little ones playing independently and occasionally playing with others. Even at almost 9 he and his cousin or friends have parrallel play time. Your friend is overly sensitive and if you think about it she probably reacts similarly in other areas of her life. If she says anything again, juust say. They are fine, it's the way 3 year olds play. and move on. If that is all she has to get worked up about then she is a blessed woman indeed. Don't worry about your girl. she sounds,intelligent, happy and spot on developmentally.

I think that an 8 year old and a 10 year old have been trained not to fight with a 3 year old. She probably almost always gets her way, doesn't have to share ect. It would be so much easier for her if she is a very selfish type child since an 8-10year old is probably not going to want her favorite doll or be able to "take" her stuff.
She's just a kid so trying to force her to play with someone who she doesn't want to play with is pretty cruddy.
My daughter (6) is allot more advanced than my neice (5) and they still play together when we get together. Maybe your daughter just doesn't care for that particular child?

I have been in childcare for the last 15 years and I have seen alot of different situations. If you could find a mothers day out program where she would be surrounded with children her own age 3 or 4 days a week for 2 or 3 hours a day then maybe she would see that its fun to play with children her own age. My daughter always likes playing with children older than her as well because all 11 of her nieces and nephews are older than her. Maybe this might help. Just keep hanging in there.

Okay, not diagnosing your daughter, but I did want you to be aware of a small possibility. My daughter was diagnosed with high functioning autism and that was her main symptom. Another possibility is that your daughter has a high IQ. My daughter is in the 97% for her age. Children her age just cannot keep up with the way she thinks. Good luck!

Ok, i am not an expert but this sounds like she is wanting attention from older children because she is the oldest of your two kids. She is the one that is helping with baby and plays with baby and matbe she doesnt want to play with younger kids because of needing attention from someone older. She may also look up to the older children and feels like she is special around them because she is the youngest because when you are around children your own age you are the same as them. She may just wanna be different. I dont think it is a social issue but more of a ( I need to get away from the little people.) When we get stressed out with being with children we need adult time and adult conversation maybe that is all she needs is her time with older people. Hope this helps. talk about the baby and her feelings towards him she may tell you she loves him but needs her time and time with big kids to get away from all the baby stuff.

Hi Nicole,

I would just talk to your daughter and ask her to play with the kids her own age when they are around. Tell her she needs to be nice to them and they are company when they are at her house. My daughter is 4 now and she has always played better with older kids. She has crushes on boys that are 16+ instead of thinking boys her age are cute. I wouldn't worry about it and your friend shouldn't get her feelings hurt over it. Kids will do things and out-grow it one day. They might be best friends later on, esp if yall hang out all the time.
Good Luck!! D'Anne

Required Fields

Our records show that we already have a Mamapedia or Mamasource account created for you under the email address you entered.

Please enter your Mamapedia or Mamasource password to continue signing in.

Required Fields

, you’re almost done...

Since this is the first time you are logging in to Mamapedia with Facebook Connect, please provide the following information so you can participate in the Mamapedia community.

As a member, you’ll receive optional email newsletters and community updates sent to you from Mamapedia, and your email address will never be shared with third parties.

By clicking "Continue to Mamapedia", I agree to the Mamapedia Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.