Sometime (when I am wearing my Mum hat), I worry about Immy making it to almost four as an only child. I am always questioning if I have done enough for her socially, even though I know (when wearing my teacher’s hat) that most 3-4 year olds are still in the very early stages of learning to play socially – observing and mimicking others with tentative interactions.

Still I question whether our experiences at playgroup, kindy gym and play dates are enough. Whether my decision not to send her to child care or to pre-kindy was the right choice.

I worry when I see her intimidated by larger groups of children or noisy, active play, or when she ignores the advances of other children who are obviously trying to engage her in play.

And then something will happen to calm my mummy soul again. Like a visit to the playground.

She was captivated by a boy of similar age pretending there were sharks in the sandpit. He would ‘swim’ in the sand and then enthusiastically call out about the sharks and take refuge on the playground equipment.

Shortly after, the boy began following her around the playground, obviously interested in engaging her in play. At first I thought she was giving him the cold shoulder but then his perseverance and her curiosity collided and before I knew it they were talking, playing, following each other around the playground, as only almost four year olds can do. They played together until the boy had to leave.

And I breathed a huge sigh of relief.

{Image source}

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  1. My daughter is an only child, too. She will be 5 in February. She is really social and loves to play with friends. We moved recently, and it has separated us some because two of her best friends live farther away now and impromptu playdates have ceased because of the distance. So her playtime decreased some, but then she started ballet class and we met a new neighbor and play ensued again.

    I have read some waldorf books that indicate it’s good for kids to play in smaller groups. Some material suggested that it’s overwhelming for kids to play in large groups, and it’s best for them to avoid it at a young age. One example said to let kids play with only as many kids as their age. So, a 2 year old would play with just 2 kids at a time.

    Not saying that is right, or the thing to do, but I thought it was interesting in the least.

    • That is interesting, Heather, I have not heard of that philosophy before. When she starts kindy next year Immy will be in a class of 20 and I really hope she copes with being in that size group, especially as she will be in the younger half of the class.

  2. I have to admit Christie that it is kind of a relief to know that I am not the only teacher that wrestles with wearing the mum hat verses the teacher hat. I have had so many instances over the years with my children where I worry over things wearing my mum hat, even though as a teacher I know these things are normal!!

  3. I have an only almost 4 year old as well and often struggle with the same thoughts. She usually plays pretty well with her friends, but has trouble playing on her own at home. I wonder if I should be giving her more opportunities to play with other children, if that would help her figure out how to play solo. On top of that, I want to homeschool, and although I know it would be best for my child academically, I worry that being home with mom all day will get to tiring for both of us, as we have no plans to have more children at this time. Anyways . . . you are not alone!! :)

    • Immy is happy to play alone and seems to prefer to play with adults than children her own age, which makes me wonder how she will fair at kindy next year. Thank you for reminding me that we are all in this same parenting boat together :)

  4. Margaret Elvis says:

    Christie I’ve made it to nearly 80 as an only child and I may seem a little strange to people who come from large families but I had a mum who was determined I should learn at an early age (correspondence lessons on the farm) and when you have intelligent parents I don’t think you suffer from being an only. You are less dependent on others (Pop is a fine example of an only child too) and can find things to do without needing constant companionship from others. I think you are a wonderful mum and Immy will turn out to be a well adjusted person.

  5. I think you already know that she is perfectly fine, but just to remind you, my Popps, just finishing Kindergarten now, was in creche two days a week from age 2 (for my work) and has always been shy anyway. When her sister arrived when she was 3, it made no difference to the way she interacted with other children. As she takes off for big school next year I notice she doesn’t look around the room for other children to be friends with, she looks for the adults and the big kids that are the buddies first, and then moves to the kids that are trying to engage her.

    • Immy does the same, Claire, preferring to seek out adults or older children before her same age peers. Immy doesn’t appear to be shy, she just often appears disinterested in children of her own age.

  6. I question my decisions all the time but then I have to go back to basics and trust my gut about things. At the end of the day, we do what works for us and our kids. Congratulations by the way! Sorry so late :)

  7. I struggled so much with that as well. But my daughter started kindergarten in September. When I told her teacher that this was my daughter’s first time in school her teacher was really surprised, and said my daughter is right with her peers, who all attended high paying preschools since they were 3 years old.

  8. HI Christie,
    I have been having similar thoughts recently and my little girl is only 2! I notice that she tends to gravitate towards me rather than interact with other children. I am a paediatric OT so I “know” that playing together doesn’t happen until much later than 2 (she is only 2 next month so still very little) but seeing this behaviour makes me question my decision to not send her to daycare. She is one of the only children that we socialise with that will not be going this year. One of my new years resolutions is to accept my little being for who she is and try not to worry about changing her!!
    Sarah x

  9. wow, thanks for the post! im not sure about u, but for i dont have anyone around me that supports the idea of not putting kids in daycare/pre-school… Everything i have read on the net about the subject have been written in ways that portray someones ABSOLUTE ‘for/against’ belief. which was helpful when making my personal decision for my 2 year old son, but they never mentioned the guilt and questioning that follows by not following the typical child care option.
    i too have been worried that my son is not socialising enough, or ‘properly’, but ur post has reassured me that our kids will play with others when they are ready, given the opportunities, rather than being forced to cope.
    thanks for ur thoughts, much needed! :)

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