Q&A: My toddler doesn't get along well with other children. Should I worry?
Our toddler does not get along with other children her age. This has been going on since she was around 18 months old. She screams when other kids simply look at her when we're out. During play group she pushes the other children and tells them to "go away," and no degree of adult intervention can prompt her to take turns or share.
I am a stay-at-home mom with a new baby due. My daughter does not go to daycare or "Mother's Day Out." I always thought I could be a good disciplinarian, but to be honest, I'm overwhelmed. Her personality is bigger than mine and my husband's combined.
The flip side of the coin is that she is clearly very bright. She is wonderfully sweet and engaging until she doesn't get her way. I desperately want to raise her in such a way that she is able to make and keep friends, understands boundaries and has self-control. Is this just a "two thing" or am I doing something wrong?
You have a 2-year-old child on your hands, and no, this behavior doesn’t mean you are doing anything wrong at all.
As long as your daughter is able to form loving, responsive relationships with you and your husband, I wouldn’t be too worried about her not playing with other children in a playgroup setting. Socially, 2-year-olds are very self-oriented, and playing together at this age only means playing in parallel, side by side. Reciprocal play, involving true interactions, usually isn’t seen before three years.
Sharing is another thing toddlers can’t yet do, so conflicts over toys in a group setting are common. Add to this the mood swings and frustratability of normal two year olds, and you can see that group settings don’t bring out the best in toddlers.
Your daughter may, by temperament, find being in a crowd of her ‘peers’ extra hard at this stage. Not only isn’t this a reflection of you as a parent, but it isn’t necessarily going to stay this way either. Your best bet for improving her social skills are to continue to expose her to other children, though perhaps in a small group with just one or two others at first. Have lots of toys around as well, to help avoid conflicts. As she heads towards three, you should see positive changes in her social skills.
Stay postitive, it will get better!