Understanding Why Your Child Prefers Younger Playmates

Understanding Why Your Child Prefers Younger Playmates


Hi DrJoanette, My daughter, age seven, only wants to play with younger kids. 


This is a really common issue that many parents face, so you’re definitely not alone in this!

It could be a sign of a few different things, so it’s important first to take a closer look and try to understand what is going on underneath your child’s behavior.  

What might be some of the reasons your child only wants to play with younger kids?

It could be that your child feels insecure or scared around kids her own age. Maybe she has difficulty socializing with them or doesn’t feel like they understand her. 
It could also be that she finds it easier to relate to younger kids and feels more comfortable around them.

Whatever the case may be, it’s important to talk to your child and try to figure out what’s going on. 

Please don’t make this an inquisition but rather get curious with her. 

Possibly share a story of a time when you were around her age. You could say, “I remember when I was about seven, and I loved playing with kids younger than me. It was fun to make up games for them to play and show them how to do things. Kind of like what I see you doing; that’s so interesting how we’re alike.” 

You are normalizing what she likes to do and letting her know she isn’t alone and that you understand her. She may not open up about why she likes to play with younger kids, and that’s ok.

There isn’t anything abnormal about her behavior, and she will feel your support when she is ready to play more with kids her own age.  

It might also be helpful to talk to her teachers or other adults who interact with your child regularly. They may have some insight into why she’s behaving this way and can offer advice on moving forward.

Above all, try not to worry too much – it’s likely just a phase your child is going through, and with time and patience, it will pass.