My 3 year old girl does not want to play with other kids. what can I do


Alison - posted on 03/14/2011




Last Christmas our family was together with all of the grandchildren. The kids were 2, 3, 4 and 5. At one point, they were all playing on their own but in the same room and talking to imaginary friends.

Laura - posted on 11/10/2010




Your daughter may be an introverted child who likes being by themselves to play. She might also be shy and being with other kids intimidates her. Whatever the reason, you cannot "make" her play with other kids. All you can do is continue to provide opportunities for her to socialize and play with other kids and encourage her to interact with them. If you are consistent enough with the opportunities, she may become comfortable enough (less shy) about actually interacting with the other children.

If you are still concerned about her lack of interaction with other kids, then I suggest consulting a doctor for an exam. He will be able to rule out any physical issues like hearing difficulties, for example. You can also discuss any other concerns you may have regarding her lack of social involvement. Hope this helps a bit!

Heather - posted on 11/10/2010




Does she prefer to play by herself or does she not get along with the other kids? Either scenario can be pretty typical of her age group. My son is 4 yrs. old and some of the time he can play with his siblings or cousins reasonably well but other times he fights over toys or teases his little sister and it can be quite frustrating. If your daughter is a shy child definitely don't try to force her to play with others but allow her to get comfortable with a group of kids in her own time and way. As long as she has the opportunities to play with other kids don't worry if she chooses not to play with them for now. Not knowing what your daughter is like makes it hard to know exactly what advice to give but I hope my response helps.


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Jodie - posted on 03/14/2011




I'm having the same issue with my daughter who is 3. She prefers to either play by herself or her brother but most often her play with her brother results in them fighting. I have to remain close by to ensure they play nicely. I am concerned because she is starting kindergarten in the fall and although she seems to be looking forward to it (is positive when we talk about it) the reality is at preschool she is unwilling or unable to play with the other kids instead she plays alone or does what the teacher calls "parellell play" where she is playing by herself but also watching the other kids at the same time. I'm worried because I was very much the same as a kid and it ended up leading to me having a hard time throughout my childhood making friends and interacting. Even as an adult I deal with anxiety and at one point needed medication to help control the panic attacks. I just hope and pray that my daughters social anxiety is nowhere near as severe as mine was/is. I've tried to make sure she has plenty of opportunity to interact with other kids (thus being in preschool) but it doesn't seem to make a difference. She, by nature, seems to be a loner and happier playing by herself. I'm worried, I don't want her to end up feeling lonely in school or worse teased because of her introvertedness. Any advice? I'm at a loss of what else I can do to help her.

Renae - posted on 11/10/2010




Just continue to expose her to other kids as much as possible, but do not try to make her play with them. Regularly (like a couple of times per week) take her to places (like playgroups, play centres etc) where there are kids there her age. She will eventually start to interact with them so dont worry if all she does for the first few weeks is stand by you. Stay for an hour anyway.

Most of the time kids who dont want to play simply have not been exposed to other kids. Social interaction is a learned behaviour, we only know how to do from practising it. Exposure is the key.

At the end of the day, she will probably still develop normal social skills during childhood (since in our society we have no choice but to interact with our peers during our schooling years) and be a perfectly normal person.

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