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I have a 22-month old boy who is currently an only child. He's a very smart, outgoing child who has never shown any sort of developmental issues. He enjoys books and music, has an amazing memory, and is speaking in long phrases and sentences.

Both I and my wife work full time, and until recently our child spent his weekdays with his grandma.

None of our nearby relatives have kids in his age range, and he hasn't had that much interaction with children his age. We've tried a couple baby/toddler groups through the local school district, and he's encountered children in public places like the park and play areas with some frequency. We're friends with another couple who has a daughter a couple months younger, but we only see them one evening every month or two.

Recently, grandma decided to go back to work full-time. We put our child in a home daycare with a woman who takes care of her own son and one other boy (18 months and 24 months).

It's been almost two weeks now, and he doesn't seem to be adjusting. Our provider says he appears anxious during much of the day. He watches the other boys, but never really interacts or plays with them. She tells us that keeping music on does help him relax somewhat, but he's still very clingy to adults, and he tends to cry if left alone with the other two boys, even for a moment.

Some of this certainly seems attributable to being abruptly put in this new situation with new people, but it is a tad worrying to me (and our daycare provider is clearly concerned).

How worried should I be? Should I just continue to give him time to adjust? Should we be actively seeking more opportunities to have him interact with kids? Do I need to discuss this with our pediatrician?

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We ended up having some issues with the woman running the first daycare. We're now with a different provider and he's much happier and more social. I'm sure having more time to adjust helped, but I also suspect our original provider was the cause of much of his uneasiness. – sjohnston Jan 11 '12 at 18:17
up vote 13 down vote accepted

I think its also proper to set expectations, many 2 year olds while they "play" tend to do so in parallel not with a lot of interaction. So you may want to be careful in what you expect, so you don't see something that is not there. Significant change is also something to aware of, as Torben notes, and will definitely influence young children who have sudden shifts in schedule. Maybe you or your wife sit with him after drop off to help him adjust, so he knows you are there and make him more comfortable.

Otherwise look for local playgroups, or activities in the local library or your local rec-hall to try and meet other local parents so you can get more interaction and have some more meetups with children his age.

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+1 for noting that toddlers do more "parallel play" rather than "play together". – Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Oct 20 '11 at 15:00
It is absolutely normal for a kid not to interact at this age. +1 No need for this mom to worry about it at all. Yet, you do point out that significant changes are something to remain aware about. Great answer. – balanced mama Nov 16 '12 at 17:39

I can imagine that he's feeling uneasy at being moved from his grandma and dropped into full-time daycare that abruptly.

Usually, you'd start daycare just a few hours a day and gradually increase to full time. I understand that with evebody working full-time as well, it's hard or impossible to provide a transition phase.

I think two weeks is not enough time for him to adjust to this big change in his life. Give it some more time, and try to provide extra attention whenever you can.

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Also, aside from the general considerations mentioned by MicharlF and Torben, it might also be that you have a typical geeky child.

Some people are NEVER comfortable around new persons, at 2, 3, 4 or even 30.

Our oldest didn't start being decently social until ~4 YO (he went to preschool at 3), and even now gets a bit shy around new kids. Which seems perfectly fine to me since I was that way in his age and STILL am exactly the same way. Might be some correllation betwen that and my reputation on StackOverflow and SciFi SE :))). Not everyone is born to be a social animal.

One interesting indicator is how your child is around OLDER kids. Ours for some reason really liked playing with some 7-10 year old kids in our neighbourhood (thankfully they for some reason enjoyed playing with him once in a while).

One possible explanation (if he's OK with new adults but not kids) is that adults go out of their way to be nice/friendly to him, whereas other 2 year olds don't work that way. They may not necessarily be hostile, but the won't always TRY to be friendly/welcoming, and will possibly compete for toys. That's why older 7-10 year olds are a good test - they are already old enough to eliminate "not-old-enough-to-be-nice" factor.

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+1 Great insight! – Marie Hendrix Oct 22 '11 at 16:15

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