Prefers to hang with adults — The Bump
Pre-School

Prefers to hang with adults

My 3 year old goes to daycare twice a week, so he is out with kids.  But at a peer's bday party recently, he just hung out with adults.  In other events, he seems very shy.  Should I be worried? or will he grow out of it? Tips or ideas?  thanks

Re: Prefers to hang with adults

  • Does he just sit quietly with the adults or does he engage in conversation with them?  I"m a gifted teacher, and often kids who are verbally gifted will prefer the company of adults because the topics their peers discuss bore them.  Just a thought!  


  • What you're seeing in your son isn't unusual for some kids (especially the oldest in the family) but it's something to keep an eye on as you get closer to kindergarten.

    My DD really preferred the company of adults as a preschooler.  Even though she was not particularly shy, she just didn't relate well to kids.  Part of this was because she was an only child and we live in a rural area, so most of her time was spent with adults.  Part of it was that she is really verbally smart but cautious physically.  Sometimes, kids her age were too rough-and-tumble for her.  Also, as she got older, I realized it was just in her nature to enjoy quiet play with one other like-minded friend.  So social activities like birthday parties did not put her in her best light.  She did much better with one-on-one play dates.

    A few years of maturity and experience with other kids will probably make a huge difference to your son.  But be on the alert, because a preference for adult company and an inability to relate to peers can be an indicator of other issues.

    If you want to give him practice at socializing with kids, ask the teacher to recommend some kids in class who are mature and mellow, then see if those moms would be interested in play dates.  When you have the play date, you might have to offer some structured activities to help the kids begin to interact.  Offer to do something with them at first (play a board game, oversee a craft) that will provide some structure for them to get comfortable.  Then gradually push them to play more independently and with each other.  Don't expect miracles at first.  It took my DD a handful of play dates before she figured out how to have fun with a peer.
    High School English teacher and mom of 2 kids:

    DD, born 9/06/00 -- 12th grade
    DS, born 8/25/04 -- 7th grade
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