Only child vs school child with siblings

Myrna - posted on 11/19/2010 ( 13 moms have responded )

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I'm so frustrated with my 4yr old's teacher always "suggesting" play dates to improve my childs "social" skills! The teacher doesn't understand that although my child will play with other children she also like her own time & will leave the group tp play by herself. This teacher looks at it like my child has social issue because the other child cant get enough of playing with each other. I try to explain to this teacher my child has no siblings at home & is very much use to playing on her own & when she feels like being bothered she'll join the group. Is anyone else having problems like this? If so can you recommend how i should handle this teacher because its about to get ugly lol. I already have a meeting setup with the principle of her catholic school.

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Rebekah - posted on 11/20/2010

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I would ask the teacher what specifically she's noticing about your child's interactions with her peers. Is it just that she isn't as interested in playing with others, or is it that she has trouble sharing or negotiating through conflicts? Is she prefering to play by herself because she can't tolerate having to deal with those kinds of things or because she doesn't know how to join in with a group of kids? How often is she playing by herself versus playing with others at school? Even if her personality may be more introverted and shy, all kids have social needs and need to find ways to meet that rather than withdraw. Perhaps your teacher just wants to be sure that she knows how to negotiate the social scene.

I heard these suggestions too from my son's preschool teacher last year when he was 3, and for him it had to do with learning to cope with other children wanting the toy he was playing with, or if they were unkind or did something that bothered him, he had to learn how to deal with his angry feelings about it. Being an only child, our kids don't have as many opportunities to learn to build frustration tolerance when it comes to playing with peers simply b/c there isn't anyone to have to share with, yeild to, cope with. Now a year later with a year of preschool under his belt, my son is doing great and this year's teacher said very little about anything he should be working on socially (not that there isn't any room for improvement, but its nice when the teacher isn't identifying anything out of the norm).

I hear that you're mad with the teacher...try to stay open to what she's bringing to the table and see if there are any specific examples that demonstrate her concerns. You know your kid best, but also remember that teachers have the benefit of working with so many different types of kids and may see things that we can't see in the grand scheme of things because we only know our one the best. Hopefully the principal can help to give some perspective to the situation and you can find some common ground, which should be the best interest of your daugher. Hope all goes well!

Alpa Badani - posted on 12/01/2010

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hi! i live in a different part of the world but yes my only daughter is nine and her teachers used to keep telling me she lacks "social" skills because she is an only child...just like you said my daughter loves her own space, her own time but at the same time is very social with guests, cousins, school friends etc.. doesn't mind sharing her own things with everyone, hardly ever gets into a fight...so is that bad or good?? at one point of time i had to explain to the teacher that being different should not be seen as "not social", how can you expect all the children to be the same...trying to make a robotic/pre-programmed world?? whats wrong if my daughter gets upset when her classmates make too much noise? or if she just wants to read a book sometimes, instead of playing a game she doesn't like?? I guess the teachers need some de-learning....

Linda - posted on 11/22/2010

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Yes, I like the advice given by the other mom's. I have an only child, she is 15 yrs old now. But her 1 st. Grade Teacher just could not fathom the fact that she could do things on her own perfectly well with out not having to work in a group and that my daughters could not use sissors very well. Well truthfully we never really cut things up or did crafts, she was more into puzzles, dolls and music. Her Teachers was rude in my opinion, and I finally told her "listen, she is just not used to playing with others or joining in a group all the time, quit forcing her, she will do things in her own time".!!! Well by the time Grade 1 ended,s he was mixing in fine. She just had to get used to the idea of playing with others. If the Teacher gets too pushy, see the Principle.

Laura - posted on 11/21/2010

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Rebekah (and Sharon) have hit the nail on the head! Good advice so far!

Just an FYI on socializaton and only children: A study came out recently from Ohio State University that concluded that only children are just as well socialized as children with siblings, especially by the time they are in school. So while very young children may be a bit behind peers with social skills (sharing, for example) they quickly make up the difference and are just fine in the long run. So I wouldn't worry too much about your daughter's social skills and you can convey the fact that research backs you up on that. Good luck to you!

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Kashmira - posted on 06/09/2014

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And just an after thought of posting the previous comment...perhaps being the only child, they are more mature in their outlook and thoughts, and the other children find it hard to accept and approach that level of advancement.

Kashmira - posted on 06/09/2014

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I think parents and teachers need lessons in human values and then imparting of human values, including friendships, so they can then pass on basic social "awareness" principles to all the children, instead of harping on lack of social "skills" in certain children. I do not see social problems with kids who are secluded, but rather with the kids who are grouped, perhaps because they share values that are not considerate of others. My only child (9years of age) is reasonably intelligent, reasonably talented and has grown up in a family that has very strong human values...and as an only child is happy and content too, though always longs for age group company as well. Perhaps our teaching them to be kind and caring and loving and making the world a better place makes them stand out and hence these situations arise. They get hurt in the process presuming that all other families would have similar values.

Nadine - posted on 12/02/2010

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Hi Myrna. I think the teacher is just trying to be "helpful". I too, have an only child. My daughter is now 8 and I have to say...I agree with both you and your teacher. You know your child best. Do what you think you need to do. Try not to take offense by this teacher. Unless of course she is becoming a problem. I had teachers do this. I took their advice and found that my daughter did the same as yours. I would only set up dates if my child and I agreed. They know what they want and you know what she needs. Do as you know what your child will benefit from.

As your child gets older she will more than likely want more dates as she becomes more of social butterfly!!

Wendy - posted on 12/02/2010

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The benefits of play date or joining a group doesn't stop with your daughter, you will also benefit from this, you can compare notes with other mums who may be going through or have been through the same issues, you can quite often find your very best friend this way, I did.

Shirley - posted on 12/01/2010

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I have a 3 yr old son who does the same thing. He'll play with the other children in his class but will go on alone and play by himself. He's an only child and is used to doing this at home. My son's teacher even went as far as to tell me maybe I should have another child and stop being selfish! I responded I will have other children when the time is right for me and my fiance. If I don't feel like the time will ever be right my son will stay an only child. He does not have any social behavoiral issues its just when he feels like playing with others, he will but on his time & his time only. He's also seen therapists and they have said the exact same thing.

Teri - posted on 12/01/2010

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I believe if your child is not playing inappropriately, meaning acting out, violently, using hurtful words, ect... it really shouldn't be a concern. I'm sure she interacts with the teacher and other children yet she is content to play by herself. She probably has an active imagination and that is a creative skill. I would ask the teacher, "what is the real issue you are concerned with?" There are many many single child households and they grow up very well adjusted, like my son who is 15 and still has no issues with being by himself. I hope this helped a little

Leila - posted on 11/30/2010

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In a way, the teacher is right about the social skills, bit your her mother not her. I'd meet with the principal and calmly request that the teacher butt out. Playdates are really good for kids though so don't discount the idea just because you don't like the teacher suggesting them. Just my opinion.

Lindsey' - posted on 11/26/2010

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Hello!! I agree with the other mother's as well. My daughter is only 3 and a half, but she is very well socialized for an only child. She has been in daycare since she was 6 weeks old, so she knows that school is where there will be other children, and she knows she must share and play nicely. I think that by her being in school this helps her to share and everything when she does have children visit at home. She is independent and plays by herself, but when she is ready to she involves herself with the others around her.

I think your child's teacher should take a more subtle approach, or be direct and say "I see your child ding/ not ding... X, Y, and Z". The gray area she is creating with her suggestions is understandably annoying.

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I would have stated everything that Rebekah said! Good luck with the meeting. Stay positive and open to what teh teacher & principal have to say. That does not mean you're going to run out and schedule Saturday play dates. But possibly even something as maybe enrolling your daughter in dance class, gymasntics, or some other activity. Good luck!

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