Looking for some sorely needed advice from some of you parenting vets.
I have a 3 year old son, Émile who is in preschool. Last month, the kid he played with the most "Victor" left for another preschool closer to his home. Since then, my son has primarily been playing with girls. They play things like Lego Duplo, etc.
Whenever he tries to integrate and play with the other boys, they sort of exclude him. The reason being, there is one kid in the class who is pushing 5 years old. Much older than everyone else. He kind of leads the boys and has them all playing Power Rangers and other things which my wife and I feel are a little too mature for a 3-year old. Things he hasn't been exposed to yet (my son still likes Yo Gabba Gabba, SuperWHY, Pirate Jake, Little Bill, etc.). So because my son has never watched Power Rangers or the other shows and I haven't played with these types of toys with him, he doesn't understand the proper "way" to play Power Rangers. So the other kids get frustrated and ostracize him.
My son doesn't seem to show any residual effects from being pushed away from the group however when it happens at the school he gets upset and hits or cries, so I know it bothers him (my son is a very sensitive kid). He does bounce back quick though and for those types of things he seems to have a short term memory which is good, otherwise he wouldn't continue trying to play with them, right? The concern is that my son has pdd-nos and has difficulty expressing his feelings or revealing what he's thinking so there's no way to be 100% sure.
Part of me wants him to get along with the kids and play properly. This part of me wants to go to Toys R Us and get him a few Power Rangers toys to model the behavior with him so he can play with the boys at school. This part of me put on a Power Rangers TV show the other day just to see how he would respond to it and he watched it for about 5 minutes and then lost interest. Admittedly, I had trouble following it. This part of me also wonders just how much experiences like this in our childhood shape us for the rest of our lives and will these kids pushing my son away result in some behavioral/personality issues with my son later down the road? In essence, at this point in time is it better to fit in? Would any possible damage done by being constantly pushed away at such a young age far outweigh my caving in and letting my son experience a style of play/television I feel is too violent and mature for him?
The other part of me feels that I should stick to my guns and shouldn't expose my son to this type of material. Granted, by all accounts it seems this 5-year old kid is far behind in regards to academic interests. My son leads story time and song time, reading and singing to the other kids (part of his pdd-nos I think, he's memorized a veritable catalogue of books and songs), and is already doing basic arithmetic (knows subtraction and addition with single digit numbers) where the 5-year old kid stutters his way through the alphabet. The other part of me thinks maybe it's fortunate that my son isn't playing with this kid.
Still another part of me thinks I just need to relax. That everything will work itself out. That preschool is such a tiny stop on the journey of life none of this will matter in as much as 6 months from now and my son will find his way and as he advances through preschool to kindergarten, he will hook up with kindred spirits and all will be as it should.
Anyone else deal with these types of things with young kids? How did you manage to navigate it successfully?