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My 2 year old son is very reluctant at playing with other kids and rarely even tries or shows any interest in other kids. He goes to the playschool for about a month now but it seems he still shows no interest in other kids. I want to understand if this is normal. Another thing that worries me that he has yet to develop speech. He has vocabulary of 50 words and understands almost everything but he does not show any interest in following what we speak or try to learn new words. Any advice would be helpful.

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4 Answers 4

That's consistent with my experience as well. If you're comparing him to the kids at preschool/daycare, if he's only been there a month he's going to have a hard time fitting in right away - that's normal. Nonetheless, my son was at daycare since 6 weeks old and still didn't play with others much at two.

Two year olds - and even many three year olds - primarily do what's called "parallel play" when they do play together, which means they both play cars in the same location, occasionally interacting, but primarily ignoring the other child except when necessary.

What you can do to encourage your son to interact more is to show him how to do so. Play with him as if you were another two year old. Give him tips for how others can be included. For example, my son today (35 months old) was playing in a play area and had some boxes of 'food' he was pretending to ring up at a grocery store. A four-or-so year old came by, and started to pick up boxes also. I suggested my son go behind the 'register' and pretend to be a worker. He did so and had fun (for a little while).

A lot of what play at that age is, is learning these kinds of things. You can let it develop naturally, or you can give a few pointers to help him out - both are fine. Give him opportunities and he'll figure things out when he needs to. As he gets closer to 3, he'll start playing more with others, and probably around 3 he'll start asking to play with kids at home (though that exact time varies, from my experience).

As far as vocabulary, fifty words sounds reasonable. At two there's still a huge variety of vocabulary levels; my oldest probably had around 50 words at two, and I worried he was a bit behind, but by 30 months he was talking up a storm and by 35 months he's composing detailed stories. I know a two year old who has no language almost at all - maybe ten words. I also know two year olds who were fully vocal. It seems to vary highly at that age, but by three mostly settles out (though we have a few people on the site who are speech experts, I believe, so they can tell you more accurately).

If he's a first child, and especially a mostly alone first child (not at daycare until recently?) then he's going to be less vocal. First children are usually behind second/later children because they don't have older siblings to talk to them, and if he wasn't often with other children he'll be limited as well. None of these things are problems - the mental development is still occurring, it's mostly just the lack of opportunities for seeing and hearing others talk. Adults are further away (harder to see the mouth movements), tend to talk faster than other similar age kids, and don't talk to them nearly as often as other maybe slightly older kids might, so they don't get as much a chance to learn (or don't need to talk as much - adults are good at anticipating needs, other kids not so much).

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This is true, important and should put your mind at ease: "Two year olds - and even many three year olds - primarily do what's called "parallel play" when they do play together, which means they both play cars in the same location, occasionally interacting, but primarily ignoring the other child except when necessary." –  Marc Jul 4 at 17:56

That all sounds very normal. Children this age play side-by-side more than they play with each other. And language develops at different rates for different kids. Between 2 and 3, vocabulary usually grows to about 200 words. 50 is a good start.

For further reading:

Speech and Language Developmental Milestones (Department of Health and Human Services)

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My little guy is about to turn 2 and is much the same way. He's generally content to do his own thing, even at the park with lots of other kids around. He seems happy and does interact when he feels like it, so we aren't too worried about his apparent introversion at this point.

As for speech, he loves talking and mimicking. But my youngest brother was 3 before he really got on the speech train, and didn't speak clearly until he was around 6. Kids just develop at different rates; it sounds like your son is still within the range of "normal."

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This is a totally normal behavior. Forcing the child to speak now will not do much good. Soon your child will find friends with whom it would be more exciting to talk and play, and the issue will be resolved on its own.

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