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2 yo daughter dislikes/fears almost all children under age 7, please advise

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  • 2 yo daughter dislikes/fears almost all children under age 7, please advise

    I am getting very worried because my daughter (2 y, 4 m) is not growing out of a tendency she's shown over the past year. She has very strong negative reactions to most other children, unless they are a good bit older and they give her calm attention like an adult. This started a year ago when my friend stayed with us for several days with her son who is a year older than my daughter. She clearly came to resent him during the visit. The next 'trauma' came when I tried to start her in a babysitting group of 4 little girls around her age. My daughter screamed, cried, bit the caregiver, tried to escape, and after 3 days we all agreed it wasn't working.
    This problem manifests as my daughter shouting NO! any time another child approaches her, and she even screams at children we just pass on the street or in the supermarket, for example. She doesn't know any suitably violent word so she yells made up ones like "Bop them away, Dack him away, Mack the little girl!" etc. Obviously, this is extremely tense for me.
    After I held a cousin's new baby, my daughter started hating babies, too. She talks about it even when no babies are around, saying, "Scratch the babies, make them cry."
    Most of the time she has been home with me or with a nanny while I work at home. I have tried over this year to take her to play groups, story hour, etc, but these events are fraught with anxiety for me because it so frequently turns into a miserable experience, and it doesn't seem to be helping her much, although sometimes she will stay calm provided she doesn't have to engage with the other children. Trying to encourage her to interact in a group activity makes her go rigid and start panicking.
    I think she doesn't see the value of friendships with other children, and she is both afraid and jealous of them. I have had some issues with social phobia myself and it makes me so sad to imagine her going through the same things. Please, can anyone offer some suggestions?

  • #2
    My son went through something very similar for the entire year he was 2. It was very rough on us as well.

    With my son, I think he had learned from experience that kids his age took his toys and he didn't like that so he would put up an aggressive front as to scare all of them away so he wouldn't have to be hurt.

    I wonder if your daughter is experiencing something similar?

    We found a few older friends for him to play with that year and kept him away from larger group peer social situations for awhile. (Aside from his similarly aged cousin.) One on one seemed much easier for him, and I think it is for a lot of children that age. My son enjoyed playing with a 5 year old at church and a 5 and 6 year old sibling set that were children of my husband's co-worker. We kept his interactions with mostly them. And any other place he seemed to have positive experiences.

    I noticed, for example, that since my son's fears seemed to be related to having things taken from him that going to a park or science museum where the play things were not small items to be picked up and generally there was lots of space between children, he did much better.

    What do you think your daughter's primary concerns are?

    As you probably already do, I also tried to only do social things when he was already having a good day, was well fed and well rested.

    For us, this stage only lasted until right around his 3rd birthday when children tend to start having more of an interest in cooperative play.


    • #3

      It sounds like this has been really difficult for you. I can imagine how unpleasant this would make things that should be fun outings.

      It sounds like there are a few specific incidents that you feel triggered this fear in your daughter, and I can understand how scary another child could be when you are that small! I think my own kids have gone through something similar, though on a smaller scale. At 2 years old, children don't really play "together" much anyway, so socializing with peers is not really much of a requirement.

      I like the idea of finding older children for her to interact with, if they seem to not be as threatening to her. Also, does she like to play with dolls? You could maybe use them to play-act some social situations, in a totally non-threatening environment.

      Hang in there. I'm sure it will get better!