How much social interaction do children need before 3?

Erin - posted on 07/31/2011 ( 10 moms have responded )

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So I get aggravated some people say my son wasn't around other children enough up till this point he is 3 and a 1/2 and now in preschool I brought him to gymboree when he was about 1 and a half for about 6 months. When he was about 2 we moved I brought him to children muesumes at least once a week, at one point he was even in daycare once a week (I have a part time job). And of course playgrounds. I've never had any moms with friends so I never got to do playdates or anything. In my opinion that is plenty of time to be around other children and it gets me furious when people tell me that's not enough. How much social interaction does a 2 yr old need? I feel like now a days with children growing up in daycare people think that kids should basically have their children in some sort of "school" environment from the time they are newborns. Sorry just venting I get so irritated with people's judgements.

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Chet - posted on 10/20/2014

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Before the age of three kids only need to feel loved and secure. They need to form healthy attachments to their parents and caregivers. They need to have back and forth exchanges (where people react and respond to them). They need to hear lots of language.

Despite what a lot of people believe, babies and toddlers don't need peer relationships. Everything they need they can get from adults and older children.

Mandimaynard - posted on 01/05/2017

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I hear the same thing from family members and it bothers me as well! I take my daughter everywhere with me and talk to her constantly. We do a music class together once a week and go to the park, playground, or llibrary pretty much daily. I even listen to podcasts about the psychology of it when she smells so I can reassure myself that I'm doing the right thing.
From what I understand there are pros and chins to every aspect and sometimes they just depend on the situation. They may learn positive things from other children but there is also a chance that they can learn negative habits as well. I just hope that staying home with her has been the right choice. She isn't even two yet, so I really can't imagine that she needs too much social interaction or structured learning up to this point. Luckily my husband is very supportive and would rather she stay with me until we both feel she's ready... Likely around 2.5 or 3. When I go to the playground I haven't noticed any deficiencies in her development relative to other children.
It's all very nerve wracking! Good luck. It's hard not to take every little thing personally either. On the one hand family members say that my child is "so smart" and "so good" but on the other hand insist that she should be in daycare some as if I'm depriving her! I think she'll have plenty of time to interact with other children... She's only one year old, after all.

Crystal - posted on 11/09/2011

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I had the same "advice" from my family. I joined a Mom's club when my son was 6 months old, mostly for my social needs at that point. We would get together for playgroups or go to the zoo, or other social setting. It was about 2x a week or so. As my son grew, we just went to the mall, playgrounds (indoor and outdoor), the childrens museum and other activities to get us out of the house. I didn't put my son in preschool, I homeschooled him. He went into Kindergarten last year, his first time in a structured social/acadmeic environment and guess what?? He did awesome! He made friends quickly, and excelled in his class. I'm doing the same with my daughter...and she is 4. She loves going to places to play with others, but she also just loves playing at home with me, or by herself. My nephew on the other hand has been in daycare since he was 1. I don't know how he does when he's there, as far as playing with others, but when he's playing with my two (ages 6 & 4 -- nephew is 4 also), he often ignores them and wants to play alone. So my theory...maybe he gets too much "exposure" and not enough down time. ;) just my thoughts tho...I'm anti-daycare. lol

Stifler's - posted on 08/01/2011

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My kid is 18 months and we see other kids like... 3 times a week max at the park or playgroup lol and daycare mondays

Cara - posted on 07/31/2011

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You're right - there is no reason a 2 year old needs to be around other kids every day! Social play times here and there is totally sufficient. Think of the days before cars and working mothers (not that long ago)...kids were at home with their mom mostly every day. Of course it's good to let your kids explore relationships with other kids but it doesn't have to be constant in order for healthy emotional development. No worries. I'm sure your son is perfect. =)

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Heather - posted on 10/19/2014

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I'm a stay at home mom too. My son is two months from turning three. We have gone to story time at the library since he was 18 month old. He would watch other children but didn't seem to care to play with them. Just in the last month has he become interested in playing with other children. I quickly found a couple moms from the library that we could have play dates with. Listen to your child, they will tell you what they need. Being a teacher, in several day cares over the years, I have worked with all ages. I have to say I am very privileged to be able to home with him.

Heather - posted on 11/09/2011

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I try to do play dates but none of my friends kids are out of daycare prior to dinner or they work full time, which leaves no time for play. I took him to the play thing in the mall and he (being the typical semi anti-social toddler) lost his mind over the idea I was making him play with kids. I kind of just gave up since daycare just planted him in a crib with the newborns since he's not as big as the other kids (according to the daycare when I lit a fire under their butts for it). We are a military family and PCS next year so I think I'm just going to wait until he's old enough for pre-school and try seeing how he does with that. Kids that young don't really understand the playing, just that it's fun to run around like a rabid monkey with flailing arms and screaming at the loudest possible decible. Hope this helps ease your mind, I get that a lot too and it irks me as well.

Erin - posted on 08/01/2011

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I think they felt like he should have some little friends. It's funny because they'll be like he didn't have enough social interaction then when I bring up what he was involved in they either don't have anything to say or say that wasn't enough. I just get frustrated with people and their criticisms.

Katherine - posted on 08/01/2011

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These sound like moms who have their kids in 5 million things. You know the type. Soccer, dance, gymnastics etc....
It's sounds like you're doing just fine.

Lady Heather - posted on 07/31/2011

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Right now our 2 year old has three big activity days a week - she goes to an evening toddler play group on Tuesdays, library time on Wednesdays and she has her best friend over for a play date. None of these things last long. They are two hours max. Frankly, I don't have the time to devote to taking her to a million things. I can't drive so when we do Wednesday library time it takes up half the day. Things need to be cooked and cleaned too! And I sort of think it's important for kids to learn how a house operates and not have everything revolve around them.

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