Toddler social interactions - are they ever nice?

Anne - posted on 04/22/2010 ( 21 moms have responded )

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Hi



My 13 month old little girl has always been a people person. Since she was 6 or 7 months old she would get excited when she saw children in a playground or on TV or anywhere. When she started toddling I took her to playgroups. We tried so many. She would be so happy and excited to play with the other children. She went to touch them on their arm and flash beaming friendly smiles at them, brought them a toy or just tried to be involved in what they were doing but every single child would scowl at her, push past her, steal her toy or just totally ignore her. In the end we stopped going because all it was doing was hurting her. For a while after intensive playgrouping she seemed to have lost her desire to play with other children. Now she just sees other children when we go out to shops or the clinic or the park and the same thing continues. She is back to being so friendly and happy to see them. Just yesterday we were at the clinic and she saw a little boy there of about 3 and she smiled at him and shyly helped him to turn the wheels on an activity toy. The boy looked at me and I smiled at him so then he puffed himself up with pride and proceeded to show off to the grown up. My little girl thought she had found a play friend but then he rolled his eyes, sighed, wrenched the toy away from her and took it to a location where she couldn't play. She was left looking forlorn. A few days earlier we went to a garden centre and she was playing in the outdor play area when a 17 month old little girl came to play too. Same thing, my little girl ran up to her so happily, I enaged the mother in conversation so she might let them play together. My baby followed the other girl around and got totally ignored. The only time the girl payed her any attention was when she decided she would steal my little girls car and went to push her out of the way. The week before she thought she was playing a game of pushing chairs around with an older girl when the girl knocked her down to go off to her mum. My baby is only young but she does seem to understand being rejected. I have advertised to see if any moms with friendly children wanted to go on playdates but only a few responded and their children were not friendly. I don't know what to do. I don't want to keep her isolated but are all the constant knock-backs going to affect her confidence? Is it unusual for a toddler to want to play with other children? She is not so interested in the toys as in interacting with the children.

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Emily - posted on 05/02/2010

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Sorry I'm a little late getting into this discussion, but wanted to add I think there's a big difference between a 1-year-old and a 3-year-old, and that can account for the play issues. And I also don't think that just having an AP-style guarantees you won't have behavior issues... I always thought this was the case because my son was always so good-natured and calm and sweet, and then he hit 3, and all of a sudden he started hitting, kicking, grabbing, the works! I think it's a "3" thing.. lol. That being said, I always intervene when he's around other kids.. no way would I ever let him do that to another child in public while I just sit there.. but I do think this is a challenging age for a lot of toddlers, regardless of how they are parented. We obviously do not hit or show aggression at home, so it's not like he's following what we're doing.

Marcy - posted on 04/27/2010

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We don't do playgroups mainly because my son is in school all week and kind of needs a break on the weekends. Also, to be honest with you, the moms drive me nuts. My son is very sweet, gentle and although it appears that he is a push over (which he isn't) some of the other kids in his class are loud, obnoxious and dow right rude. I really think his behavior stems from him living in a house where there is no yelling, his needs are met all the time and he has our attention whenever he needs it. Up until he moved from the nursery at his school to pre-school the kids were gentle and kind. Now, as they get older (he is 3 1/2) I find that the is coming home using words/actions that I'm not real thrilled with. I just get down at his level and depending on what he says or does I just keep repeating to him "J.R., you can make a better choice than that or we don't say that in this house." I hope its enough....I sure do!

April - posted on 04/27/2010

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i'm in the same boat. my son is just like your daughter! and he has a friend next door around the same age that is borderline abusive to him! she pushes him down, steals all his toys and constantly yells out NO to him.

I often babysit this little girl but now feel like what if she ruins my son's beautiful personality? what if he turns into this aggressive (pardon my language) little snot?

I'm open to suggestions too!

Jamie - posted on 04/23/2010

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We used to have this problem too, I think one of the issues is the age gap between your daughter and the other children. In my experience when our son was under 2.5 it seemed like none of the other children wanted to play with him, so he was generally more comfortable with babies younger than himself. Now that he's almost three he's changed his attitude and it's all about establishing dominance over younger kids... he has become a bit more confidant playing with kids his own age and has even made some friends who are a bit older now. It was very frustrating for a long time for us to watch as parents though, especially since he seemed to have such a small window of social opportunity.

Beck - posted on 04/23/2010

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Aww wish you lived here in the south west of Australia, I also have a social little boy like yours. Corey is always trying to meet the eye of other kids (and adults, especially little old ladies at the shops! lol). He especially likes watching the older children (3-8yr olds) at the moment. We are lucky enough to have a beautiful little mothers group with 5 other bubs. They now at 10-16mths (the age range, mine being at the 14mths) they have such a special time, they are starting to interact with meaning rather just next to each other. Its so lovely to watch. We were lucky to all get together from our pregnancy yoga class. We are all very like minded in (most) of our child rearing so its great because we are all on the same 'page' with suitable behaviour etc. I would suggest rather moving over! hahaha or trying to also find a small group that YOU share the same interests with the mums. Good luck

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Anne - posted on 05/21/2010

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I think there is a definate correlation between how little they control their child's horrible behaviour and how mean the mom looks! That is awful and it shouldn't have to be up to you to parent that girl. Why is the mom standing back and letting her hit a baby?!
We are still waiting for the time when my little girl doesn't get rebuffed or pushed around and actually finds a playfriend. And I was just thinking which groups I could join to meet new parents. Book club sounded so promising until I got further in to your post! :-/

Kate - posted on 05/21/2010

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I go to a Wednesday morning book club with a few other mom's from church. A bunch of our little one's come along and play with toys on the floor while we chat. My son is 10 months old and another little girl who is about 18months or 2years is constantly hitting my son and taking his toys away. She was the youngest and now he is. The thing is that her mom is really scary looking and I'm new to the book club so don't want to make an issue but my son, who never cries anywhere else constantly bursts into tears during this time. I quietly tell the little girl that she mustn't hit the baby but she just looks at me defiantly and hits him again. some kids are so mean. I'll never let my son get away with it.

Emily - posted on 05/02/2010

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Oh definitely.. I think it's definitely worse when they're shown that at home or when their needs are not met on a regular basis.

Anne - posted on 05/02/2010

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Thanks for your post Emily. Take your point about 3 being a difficult age but wonder if there is any good age. She's tried to play with many more children of her own age I just didn't mention them specifically but the same thing happens, pushing, stealing, no eye contact. AP might not stop all bad behaviour but I think it probably reduces it and those children that are never interacted with or shown how to behave will have more difficulty in behaving sociably I suspect. If only more parents would take responsibility like you and the other ladies here instead of sitting on their bums while their child hits another.

Anne - posted on 04/29/2010

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I get what you mean about the saying 'no' thing. Yes too abstract to deal with easily but sounds like she is just using it in agression. I do hope you have success with the sticker system.

On the Michael Pearl thing - looks like it's working for them then! :-)

April - posted on 04/29/2010

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i don't think this family is into AP style. her mother gave me a book by Michael Pearl's wife.

Anne - posted on 04/29/2010

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Marcy I agree I think it's the parents behaviour underlying it all. When the parents are thoughtful, meet the child's needs, and don't go about yelling at eachother the children are usually good natured. I think that AP style upbringing means more interaction with your child and probably makes them more socially advanced. But then they run into all these problems when they meet with children who are left to their own devices.

April - posted on 04/29/2010

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AnneMarie-- Great idea about a sticker reward system. Emma gets a sticker at home everytime she goes on the potty. She understands sticker system very well. I may try that!

I think part of my problem is that i don't really understand why she says NO all the time to him. It's easier to tell her not to hit or push, but not to say NO...it's abstract.

I really don't think she understands why she can't say no...but she understands what no means. Not sure if this maks sense.

Anne - posted on 04/29/2010

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April that's a tough situation. She must be used to being put in time out if that's what they do in their household. If she is just not taking any notice when you tell her off maybe it's the only way to let her know you are not happy with her behaviour. Perhaps just for an instant will be enough to get through to her. You don't have the freedom to change the way she is taught since you have limited time with her (thankfully for your sons sake!). I understand if it just goes against the grain too much and you are unable to try it but I really hope you can curb her behaviour because it sounds horrible for your little boy. Are you able to intervene the same instant she is doing these things? Does she understand the meaning of no if she keeps yelling it? Is she just not listening or does she find it funny when you react? Is she too young to understand a reward system where you give her a sticker or something if she has played nicely? Does it work if you play with them and keep control of the playing - share things out etc?

April - posted on 04/28/2010

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@ AnneMarie...nope the little girl doesn't listen to me. Her mom told me to put her in time out, but I'm not comfortable with that. She's ony 22 months...not even 2 yet. I'm still trying to think of a way to reach her.

Anne - posted on 04/27/2010

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I have the exact same worry! I don't want her to lose this sweet nature. I just wish she could have one nice friend. When I saw your other post about your son being distracted by hearing the children playing outside I thought he sounded so much like my LO! Does this little girl pay attention to you if you tell her to be nicer? Or will her parents get uppity if you tell her off? Difficult when your son has to be around her all the time.

Anne - posted on 04/23/2010

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Ah why is it all the nice people live so far away!?

Beck, Corey sounds just like my little one. She loves little old ladies and children of all ages too. Your group sounds ideal. Good suggestion about finding a group of mums with similar interests. I think that kind of thing is lacking here but we are moving back to the city soon so there may be more selection there.

Dana good luck with getting that group together and finding some playmates for your adorable little 'mama' and littlest one. I totally agree with your parenting style. My girl has her little terror moments but so far that's only been with my husband and I. She's always sweet to other children. I'm sure too our children would get along great.

Jamie I think what you have said is true that there is a problem with ages, development stages and short windows of opportunity. Before becoming a mom I would never have guessed that the kiddy social scene was so high pressure! LOL. So far my little girl makes no distinction in age and seeks out little babies or school children alike. She just loves them all. The babies of her own age and younger that we meet around here aren't yet interested in things other than themselves and they don't make eye contact. The older ones probably see her as being too young to bother with. So we have the same problem, no-one wants to play with her yet. Glad your son is making friends and getting confident.

I have learned from your posts ladies that there are nice, friendly toddlers out there so we will keep looking! Thank you :-)

Dana - posted on 04/23/2010

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Nope, I live right in the middle of th US. Too bad because I'm sure the girls would get along! My 2 1/2 year old is a 'mama' and my little one is 14 mos. They're both always hugging and giving kisses :) I have had another mom I know ask about getting a few SAHM's in our area together once a week for a couple hours so we may see how that goes. We haven't spent much time around some of the kids, but I know the mom's will at least correct them if they're not being nice. Which is all I'm really asking for. I know with toddlers sometimes they're going to take toys and maybe smack, but you should tell them it's wrong and they should apologize. I make mine. We'll see how it goes :) Good luck to you finding some like minded moms in your area!

Anne - posted on 04/23/2010

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Thanks Dana it's so good to hear from another mom who thinks the same way. When the mothers don't say anything over instances like that it's no wonder the children don't know how to be sociable. Good for you. Better to be protective than have them be hurt all the time. I had a toddler threaten to tell his mom on me because I stopped him from throwing hard balls at my baby. She was only about 7 months old then and in the baby play area. He was too old to be allowed in there and should not have taken balls from the ball pool in either but his mother sat there watching him fire them at my baby without comment.

It's good your girls have got eachother to play with. I keep thinking I should have another so my girl will have a sibling to play with but it's a long time for her to wait LOL. I felt so sorry for her this morning as she was trying to kiss the babies on the TV!



You don't happen to live in the UK do you so we could get our girls together for a playdate? It would be so refreshing for her to meet friendly girls like yours. :-)

Dana - posted on 04/22/2010

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I avoid playgroups for the same reason! I can't say my girls are 'always' nice, :) but they are very friendly, too. It really ticks me off to see other kids messing with them. The other day a little girl at the park jerked my 2 year old off the end of the slide. The mother didn't say anything! I went and got my daughter and told her we weren't playing there anymore because we didn't like to play with mean girls. She seemed confused by the whole thing. I would like my girls to be able to play with other kids too, and maybe I'm just over protective, but I would rather them just play with each other than with other kids and get smacked around :)

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