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My daughter is 8 months old. She stays at home with my husband and I all day (we work from home). While we do get out (we have a daily walk), she probably sees non-family-members once a week and other children once or twice a month.

We're always getting comments from friends/family that we should be getting her out to meet people more, and she should be playing with other children more often too. Is this really an issue? At what age should she be playing regularly with other children on a daily basis?

In the future I'll be looking at playgroups/childcare for her. What age will these things be a necessity? (to clarify, the childcare wouldn't really be for our convenience, but rather for her social needs. We can keep her here at home without any issue)

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    I think there is a fundamental problem with this question, and that is the word necessary. Surely, interaction with other children is necessary, but the ideal frequency of such interaction is not the same for every child. – anongoodnurse Feb 3 at 18:09
  • @anongoodnurse I'm not sure what I understand what you mean. There are lots of questions in my post. Do you have an issue with the premise of my post in general, or literally with the sentence containing necessity ("What age will these things be a necessity? "). As someone who doesn't get out much (a combination of being introverted and working at home), I think that this is a reasonable question to ask. – user30275 Feb 4 at 12:17
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    As I stated, my issue is with the combination of the words "necessity" and "daily". – anongoodnurse Feb 4 at 14:37
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  1. Even at an age where toddlers do not directly play with each other, their "parallel play" (that's the scientific term for kids playing by themselves in the presence of other kids) facilitates later social skills (Mueller & Brenner, 1977).

  2. Beginning in their second year, toddlers begin to interact with each other, e.g. imitating the behavior of their peers and directing the behavior of their peers non-verbally (Eckerman, Davis & Didow, 1989) or inviting peers to play and responding to play invitations (Ross, 1982).

There are many more sources, these are just examples. My personal conclusion is that parents do well to begin initiating frequent and extended interactions with other children beginning at around their child's first birthday but no later than 18 months, as that will help build their child's social skills.

In general, I think the best practice in this respect is when the parents lead a social life and their children always have the opporunity to interact with other persons so that the children can choose to interact or not according to their needs and temperamental preferences.


Sources:

  • Eckerman, C. O., Davis, C. C., & Didow, S. M. (1989). Toddlers' emerging ways of achieving social coordinations with a peer. Child Development, 440-453.
  • Mueller, E., & Brenner, J. (1977). The origins of social skills and interaction among playgroup toddlers. Child Development, 854-861.
  • Ross, H. S. (1982). Establishment of social games among toddlers. Developmental Psychology, 18(4), 509.
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There may be cultural differences, but where I live in Scotland, we had our children interacting with others from just a couple of months old. We were out with other families when they were only a few days old, but I'm not sure that counts as interaction.

For infants and toddlers to see other children is positive and developmental. In order for my wife to return to work, our kids started at nursery/daycare from around a year old but there were some around 9 months old there 5 days a week.

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    I'm not sure this answers the question? I know that children can and do enter daycare before a year old, but my question is rather at what point to do they have a developmental need to play with other children on a daily basis? – user30275 Feb 3 at 7:45
  • @Stacey - I think I kind of agree with you. I sort of answer part of it but not the rest... – Rory Alsop Feb 4 at 21:30
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Getting your young child to make friends can be hard but it is essential for later life children should interact at a young age to become known to the process of making friends when they are older depending on the culture this may change but you should let your young child be able to interact with other children healthily and happily on a day to day basics x

  • Hi and welcome to Parenting.SE! Please take the tour and read the help center. The question is specifically asking at "what age" - can you update your post to include an answer? – Anne Daunted Feb 3 at 18:57

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