This has been on my mind lately, with several friends and family making comments about Raccoon needing time to play with "friends." He tends to be a bit antisocial or veeeeery slow to warm up. Other children, especially if they are younger than him, are often too touchy, too much in his space, and too unpredictable for him to play comfortably.
With Raccoon's sensory issues and food allergies, I wouldn't even really consider sending him to some sort of program, except that he does seem to want to be around other children at times. Last week he came home crying from the park because some older children wouldn't play with him. Where we live, the majority of children are in daycare/preschool from 1+ years old, so it is hard for us to consistently find other playmates. Of course I'm fun, but after watching him with his cousins, I feel like just being at home with me isn't enough. For now, I'm keeping the matter in prayer and talking with my husband about it. I recently received this in a newsletter I subscribe to, and although it does not seem based on research, it does echo some of my questions.
Your Questions About Social Growth
Don't I have to send my small child to preschool or daycare for socialization?
One of the great modern myths is that children need other children to become "socialized." The exact opposite is true. The notion that little children learn how to be civilized from being with each other has little to recommend it. What can a three-year-old teach another three-year-old? Answer: How to behave like a three-year-old.
When we place tiny children together, the result is chaos. If one child is a biter, then other children get bitten and learn that biting may be useful in self-defense. Generally, this is not the kind of social idea that mothers want their children to have.
If I don't send my child to kindergarten, how will they learn to share with other children?
Sometimes mothers are convinced to put their child with other children in what are called "play groups" or "kindergarten" because mother wants her child to learn to share. Mother believes that this cannot be learned at home from her. Sharing is an admirable and worthwhile objective. But two and three-year-olds are not ready to share anything. Instead, they defend their belongings against any and all comers. The "play group" only stays civilized if each mother stands right next to her child and protects that child from all the other children in the group. "Sharing" occurs only when mother pries the beloved toy truck out of her child's grasp and hands it to another child, who then gets a death grip on the truck until his mother says that he has "shared" the truck for long enough and it is pried out of his grasp to be returned to its little, very anxious owner.
If the above scene takes place without a mother with each child, then the result is much worse. Without mother at his side, the child will simply fight to keep his toy or be overpowered by a bigger, more aggressive child. He either learns to fight or to flee. Is this socialization?
Where can my child best learn proper behavior?
Little children do not need other little children to become socialized - they need mother and father. Civilized behavior is learned at home from mother and father. Children learn right from wrong from mother and father and grandmother and grandfather, or they do not learn it at all. The longer a small child spends with his mother each day, the more civilized he will be. The less time he spends with mother each day, the less civilized he will be.
Arrange for your child to spend more time with you every day and less time with other little children. Be consistent, fair, and honest in all your interactions with your child. In a few months you will have a more mature, kind, and helpful child, but, even better, you will be spending precious time with a wonderful companion who will love and support you for the rest of your life.
from the IAHP Newsletter, November 2012, Issue 34