To want my toddler to entertain herself occasionally?

(23 Posts)
SoggyBottoms Mon 30-May-16 07:41:49

Less of an Aibu, more of a cry for help...

My almost 3yo DD can't seem to stick to any activity without out our constant intervention for more than 5 minutes. It's exhausting. Even if I set her up with jigsaws or painting etc she is asking for help instantly. What am I doing wrong? Is this normal?!

Is it unrealistic to hope that a 3yo could spend half an hour engrossed in something on her own? And if so, what would that thing be? Any suggestions of great activities that don't require constant monitoring?

DawgDawg Mon 30-May-16 07:48:44

Mine is very similar shock

Im no help at all.

curren Mon 30-May-16 07:50:17

My Dd could entertain herself at that age. My ds still struggles at 5.

He seems to need help with everything. He doesn't really , he just prefers someone to do it for him. He has got better. We simply tell him 'I am busy doing something, I will help in five minutes'

By that time he has done whatever it is that he wanted us to do. The last 6 months, since we have been doing this has got much better. Wish we had done it sooner.

Dd was far better at communicating and listening at 3 than ds was. So I suppose it depends on where they developmentally on wether this would work at three.

wispaxmas Mon 30-May-16 08:02:46

My 2yo always needs help with things like that, but if I don't give her toys/activities she will entertain herself for ages using her imagination, running around, etc. Maybe try less structured things that require skill? What does she do if you just let her loose in the garden?

SoggyBottoms Mon 30-May-16 08:05:29

If let loose in the garden sometimes she will play by herself for a while, I guess. But sometimes not at all. It seems to vary based on how clingy she is feeling on any particular day...

starry0ne Mon 30-May-16 08:11:13

A couple of things that can help.. Visual timetable. PIC of her painting then planned activity with you. Doing your own painting next to her. The job in and out with nice cooing noises. I am going to hoover see how much of this jigsaw you can do by time hoovered the lounge. Some kids are better at line play than others x

228agreenend Mon 30-May-16 08:14:09

Maybe she is used to you answering her every demand. Ie. When she says please help, you come running.

Maybe you need to train her to not get used to you. If she starts doing some colouring, then asks for help, say " mummy will be along in five minutes, when I've finished putting the washing out". She may create a little initially, when you don't come straight to her, but she will soon start getting used to it.

Eebahgum Mon 30-May-16 08:18:37

Ds is almost 4 & just like this. The only thing he'll seem to do completely independently is watch tv.

SoggyBottoms Mon 30-May-16 08:20:28

I know what you mean, but i usually stand back and let her get on with things rather than constantly intervening...In fact it's got worse, not better, since I had DC2 and am less available to her. I think it's more of a cry for attention than being used to too much of it.

I keep thinking perhaps we just haven't found the activity that might float her boat. Any suggestions beyond painting and colouring...?

SpringerS Mon 30-May-16 08:26:32

Painting and jigsaws both require skills that most 3yos don't have, some kids can absorb themselves just making splashy colours. But at 3, children start trying to make a real representation of the thing they are painting and for that they may very well need adult help. And with jigsaws, even children who are well able to do the puzzles themselves, they often prefer having the feedback and encouragement of an adult. My 3yo DS can play well by himself but painting and jigsaws almost certainly require my participation because he is the wrong age to enjoy things like that by himself.

What keeps my son absorbed for hours are playsets and figures. Things like Little People, Imaginext, Playmobil, etc. He can spend ages lost in a game, creating worlds and stories for his figures. But that took me playing with him like that and helping him to learn how to play that way. And I think it may also require both of you being meticulously tidy with the play sets, because when parts he wants are missing he gets frustrated with the game and will lose his train of play. I also leave the sets on display on open shelves set up in entertaining tableaus that make them very tempting to play with.

curren Mon 30-May-16 08:26:52

When she is askin. For help are you busy with the other child?

Do you get anytime with her to do an activity 1 on 1?

My ds was my second and Dd was quite a bit older so he did get lots of 1 on 1 time when she was at school. So that wasn't the issue.

It could be that she is struggling with the new addition to the family and is trying to keep the attention on her.

Does she go to nursery?

SoggyBottoms Mon 30-May-16 08:31:56

Thanks Springer - very helpful practical advice! I will look into those kinds of toys, many thanks.

SoggyBottoms Mon 30-May-16 08:33:26

And yes Current, she gets one on one time and plenty of attention on her. And yes, she goes to nursery.

imsorryiasked Mon 30-May-16 08:40:20

Try a sand pit with plenty of toys such as a trowel, plastic tea set, sieve, lorries to load, moulds etc. This would keep ds occupied for ages.
If you don't mind a bit of mess indoors then get a plastic cloth and some "moon sand" for rainy days. Or dry pasta and some pots and pans and plenty of dolls who are "hungry"

SoggyBottoms Mon 30-May-16 08:49:44

Ooh will do imsorry - thanks.

hawaiibaby Mon 30-May-16 08:51:52

I second the imagination inspiring toys. Does she like peppa pig? They do tons of toys for this, I just bought a loaf second hand for ds' 3rd birthday last week and he LOVES them. He will also play for ages with a train set but needs help setting it up.

I sympathise op as I have a 10 wo and have found ds wants me to play with him more since then, which is understandable and wanting parents to play with them is perfectly normal, just not always easy.

I think part of it for me is feeling guilty for saying no or wait because the baby is already taking up so much time so I don't really help myself!

The sandpit and water play in the garden is definitely good for self entertainment, oh and washing up at the sink too. but agree that jigsaws and painting are more things that require interaction and encouragement.

Good luck!

SoggyBottoms Mon 30-May-16 08:58:09

Thanks Hawaiibaby and i'm with you on the guilt! Congrats on your baby

Mumandmama Mon 30-May-16 09:13:48

Collecting things from the garden/ park when out and about to make a collage is always popular with mine.

seastargirl Mon 30-May-16 09:31:15

My son who's 4 was like this, I bought some egg timers and told him he had to play by himself until the sand had rub through, we started with a 5 minute one, had a 10 minute one and now a 15 minute one. He gets a sticker or treat when he's finished the time and then I make sure I join in and we have a good play together, it's made a massive difference and he's getting a lot more self sufficient in his play since we've started doing it.

SoggyBottoms Mon 30-May-16 09:35:15

Interesting idea seastar I will try that!

Thatrabbittrickedme Mon 30-May-16 11:52:27

Per pp both of mine would play for long periods with happy land (ELC) sets at that age, it's called 'small world' imagination games. We had a few sets and a big box to keep it all in. You unzipped the sides of the box and it lay flat with road etc printed on it. At the end of play, zip the sides back up and throw it all back in!

Sand, water and a load of pots is another great one. We also had a play kitchen and play food - DD loved playing Masterchef and feeding the dolls.

Definitely imagination games are best for this age, and save the painting/puzzles for when you are playing together.

Fairuza Mon 30-May-16 11:55:26

Mine won't stick at something like painting or playdoh for more than 5 minutes, but they will spend hours running round the garden or in the sandpit or playing with duplo or just with toys.

Clawdy Mon 30-May-16 12:26:56

I used to say "Just having a cup of coffee, but we'll play as soon as I've finished...." Then sometimes my ds would get so absorbed in lego, playdoh, or whatever he would forget, and I'd have a real break! Worth a try.

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