Socialization Skills of My 5 Year Old

Updated on October 25, 2009
S.G. asks from Reading, MA
9 answers

My daughter's teachers report that she has difficulty socializing with other children. She is an only child and is mostly around adults. She attends preschool 3 days a week, spends 1 day a week with a friend with children and has a dance class weekly. I am worried that she will experience difficulty in school. Some of my friends think that she is immature. Any advice.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for all the suggestions! I appreciate the reminder that each child is different. I will be meeting with her teachers next week. Due to my work schedule the scheduling of play dates is difficult. Mikayla has one friend from dance class who we get together with. At the park she is very social. I am wondering if she might be overwhelmed in preschool because there are 12 boys and 6 girls.

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answers from Boston on

First off, don't blame yourself for having a single child! I have a singleton too, and he spent a lot of time around adults. In the long run, he wound up being incredibly good with a lot of different people.

It sounds like your daughter has plenty of exposure to other children. You could add in a play date on the weekend if you want - I'm not a big proponent of putting kids in a million structured activities anyway, and it sounds like she would benefit from less of that and more of the regular socializing. I would mix this up with a variety of children, and then you can observe any problems for yourself, seeing what is common from one visit to the next and what issues are present regardless of who the other kid is. Take her to playgrounds while the weather is still good, and let her interact with other kids on a non-structured basis. Let her practice skills to get better at these things!

I would try to get more info from the teachers - is there a particular thing that is difficult for her? Is that a skill area they can help her work on? Does she show delays in any other areas? If so, what services would be beneficial.

If she is just immature, then give her some time! She will grow out of it. Do not be afraid to keep her in preschool for another year rather than sending her to kindergarten. This is what we did with our son - he started when he was 6 and he never knew the difference! It's much easier and much kinder than having to have a child repeat a grade later on when the problems surface. My brother was the opposite - youngest child in his class - and it was a huge error.

Meantime, continue to provide her with opportunities to develop the skills she needs to adapt to new situations and new kids.

A few "well-meaning" acquaintances gave us a hard time about not starting our son in kindergarten at the earliest possible opportunity. "Isn't he bright enough?" and "Aren't you afraid of holding him back?" were the kinder comments. We didn't question our decision then, and now it is so incredibly clear that we did the right thing. Every child develops different skills at different rates - some walk at 8 months and some at 14 months, some talk early and others talk late, some take forever to potty train, etc. And some take a while to mature.

Enjoy her growing up years!

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answers from Portland on

You are doing all you can to get her around other kids. I think there is too much emphasis on 'socialization'. Kids learn to make friends when they are ready. 3-5 year olds mostly play side by side as opposed to playing or pretending together. I agree that she might just be a shy child or one who is observant.

My kids have slowly figured out how to make and be friends and it seems they did best after they really got familiar with people. My 6 year old daughter, who is in 1st grade this year, is very much a quiet observer. She wants to get a sense of a whole situation before she determines how she will proceed. Here it is the middle of October and she announced yesterday that she is now friends with the girl she's been sitting next to for the past month and a half.

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answers from Boston on

well, if u look at it she has just started school, maybe she just needs more time. she could be really shy and is not quite ready to open up to other kids as yet. but don't let what the teacher say alarm u. do u think she's like that? do u see her pulling away from other kids? u are her mom, u know her better, than her teacher does. if u see that she does do that maybe u can ask her if she would like to have a friend over once in a while.

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answers from Providence on

Could she just be a very shy child? I myself was a very shy person as a child and teen. I was looked at as being mature for my age, as I was quiet, and kept to myself, I also was a good listener and observer. It could just be that she has to be comfortable in a place for awhile in order to adjust and find friends. I know for me it took time to find friends and establish myself in a new environment. I think you are doing the right thing by having her in preschool, and dance as well as spending a day with your friend and her kids. It will help her to adjust and learn to put herself into situation where she needs to socialize and talk with other children. She will be fine. It takes time, but I know that things will work out. They did for me. Now I have a profession where all I do is talk and socialize with others.



answers from Springfield on

Does your daughter complain? When my son was in preschool, the teachers said the same thing. They said they would try to get him to play with the other children but he preferred to sit and watch. I told them to let him be. He was happy observing and never complained that he had no friends. He would even call the kids on preschool his friends. He is also an only child and is used to being around mostly adults. In fact, he was and still is much more comfortable (and interacts better) with adults. He is now in second grade and is just starting to play with kids at recess. As long as your daughter is happy and is not saying things like she has no friends or that nobody likes her I wouldn't worry about it.



answers from Barnstable on

I went to school for special education and delt with many children with socialization problems. My best advice is to keep surrounding her with other children. It's also important to bring her to settings with other unfamiliar children. Encourage her to make new friends. You may have to help her make new friends at first- play with them to model appropraite social skills and interactions. Try with children older and younger than her- she may be in a place where she feels like she doesn't relate to the chidlren in her classroom. I personally think that she's still young and school can be a hard transition for some children. It's easy to quickly label a socialization problem when it could be something simple.

However, If you're really worried you can ask to have her evaluated..This is better to be done sooner than later if you feel like the problem is significant. It may be that she is lacking some social skills that can easily be taught in a group setting. Or maybe she is immature and will simply outgrow the stage with some encouragement from the teachers and other children in the classroom.

It may be that she's just shy? Or maybe she Doesn't like the school, teacher(s), classroom, age group, a particular child? Does she feel lonley, scared, anxious? You can also try talking to her about it, ask her how she feels at school- she may be able to give you a reason for her behavior.

Hope this helps a bit!
Good Luck!



answers from Boston on

Hi S.,
I agree with Diane about getting specific input as to how your daughter needs to get up to speed with her peers. Otherwise it will be difficult for you to work with her.

You don't mention the kind of interaction the two of you have at home, but it might just be a question of her having more alone time, as in, playing on her own without you doing so much with her. But it's hard to say. Some parents of only children feel that they should lavish more attention on them since they don't have siblings to play with. Perhaps she needs more time on her own to explore and work things out for herself. But I'm just guessing!

If you would like your daughter to have more exposure to other kids without scheduling structured time/activities, going to parks at any given time and simply encouraging her to play with other kids that she's just met is a great way to do that. Kids are amazingly social.

Good luck! She'll be fine. :-)



answers from Hartford on

I home schooled our daughter for 10 years. We joined home schooling groups and spent a lot of time allowing her to interact with the children. We had sleepovers as one-on-one and did many activites with the support groups like field trips and it gave me a chance to be creative with our daughter and she really didn't miss out and is very social today. Hope you are encouraged.

M. C.



answers from Boston on

Hi S.,
If you are interested in sharing a little more informtion, the responses may be more helpful. When will your daughter go to kindergarten? What kind of preschool is she in? Were the teachers suggesting something to help?
I ask these questions, because it will help us tailor our responses to your question.
Best of luck to you and try not to worry too much!
Take care.

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