Social development

Hi Everyone thank you so much for providing this platform. So my little one is 2 years and 9 months old. I noticed that a month ago he started talking to himself or imaginary friends however they were always his “age”. Today, he started playing with a landline phone and pretending someone would call him. I asked him who called you baby and he said “a lady” and even gave us the lady’s name which is a word he made up a while back. So I asked is this a friend? And he said yes it’s my friend. Anyway, I said to him cool I’m glad you have friends having friends is fun. Now I know you said your friend is a lady. Is this an adult or a baby like you. And he said an adult mommy my friend is an adult. I followed by telling him that I know he has this friend and I love that he has friends but adults cannot be a child’s friend. He asked why and I had no idea how to explain this to him. He started crying and saying he wanted a friend and I told him he does have friend and mentioned the kids in his life but he went on to saying that he doesn’t like having babies or kids as friends. He likes playing with adults. My husband and I have always stressed the fact that adults cannot be his friends. My son is a very mellow child and also very verbal. So whenever we have tried to have play dates with kids his age he gets stressed because he cannot understand or communicate with them or because he is just not interested in doing what babies his age do. Abilities wise, at 2 1/2 he was able to build 24-36 piece puzzles and learned about 50 dinosaur names and simple things that made the unique. He is able to do very simple additions and subtraction. He also speaks in full sentences and loves story telling and making up his own songs. We practice a lot of the Montessori philosophy at home so my son enjoys a lot of practical life work. He is able to load the dishwasher do his laundry etc. Since we don’t really watch much TV at home or buy him toys from animated shows he often doesn’t understand the culture of the little ones that are in his life. As a mom I’m very concerned because I feel that in my efforts to provide a healthy environment I have failed him because now he cannot get along with the children around him. He is also a very sensitive child. He learns with all his senses. He is able to express his emotions and is able to communicate a full range of emotions and feelings. Most of the times he is able to self regulate. He will either take a break on his own or tell us he need hugs or sometimes he will just say “I am having big feelings” and cries. However, this makes it very hard for him to get along with other babies. We have thought of enrolling him in half day preschool since he is potty trained but he is also very attached to me. He doesn’t understand that mommys do not go to school with their children. I want to make sure I empower him but also ensure he understands that he is a child and adults cannot be his friends. This is also very important to both of us (Hubby and I). We are both Social Workers and have seen horrible situations. Safety is a huge concern for us. We want to make sure we keep him safe but we also want to make sure we are not projecting our fears based on on our jobs onto our child. Thank you so much :sob:

Hi @Litomom! As a psychologist mom, I can really relate to the fear of projecting fears onto our kids. Especially for those of us who work with kids, it’s hard not to see our own kids through the lens of our work, and, even for those of us who aren’t in this field, through the lens of our own history. Stranger danger is certainly an important message to communicate to kids, and teaching them appropriate and inappropriate interactions is incredibly important. In this case, your son is developmentally too young to really understand what safety means, who is safe and unsafe, and how to keep himself safe. These concepts will take another couple of years to sink in. In the meantime, it’s up to you and your husband to set the guidelines, and to reassure him when necessary that the grownups are in charge and can keep him safe. I wouldn’t read too much into his play, since it’s not reality-based, and I would try not to ground him too much in reality when he’s playing make-believe. There will be time for all of that! For now, model healthy boundaries and relationships, and encourage him to be social with other kids and adults in settings that you approve. It’s an equally important message that most people are good and safe and fun to be around, and that’s the foundation for the messages about safety and inappropriate contact. It might help to check in with a professional who works with parents to help them navigate these difficult moments- it might help with balancing the mom/social worker hats that you wear.