Playdates Can Help Child's Socialization Skills

Question: My daughter is 28 months old and an only child. I'm considering putting her in day care one day a week for socialization skills. Because she's around adults all the time, even at the baby sitter's, I'm concerned about her learning to deal and relate with children. She gets along all right with other children, except for the typical sharing problems. Am I overreacting? Would day care be better when she is older? - Too Few Children

Answer: You're absolutely correct about young children needing to have the opportunity to interact with children of the same age in order to acquire socialization skills. At your daughter's age, however, most children do best playing with a few children they know and will only play side by side with them.

Sending your daughter to a day-care center once a week might not be the best way to introduce new playmates. It could be very difficult for such a young child to deal with separation from her regular caregiver, as well as interacting with a group of unfamiliar children.

There are many other ways besides day care to provide a few playmates for your daughter. Think about establishing a brief playdate each weekend with the child of a friend or neighbor. Are there any children your daughter's age in the baby sitter's neighborhood with whom she might be able to play? After all, children used to get all their socialization experiences through playing with neighborhood children. Could the baby sitter participate with your child in a small playgroup? In any play situation, your daughter will do better at first if you or the baby sitter are with her.