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Best toys for an only child?

(12 Posts)
BertieBotts Tue 02-Oct-12 10:13:00

It's DS's 4th birthday on Friday and then Christmas to think about as well.

I'm looking for either some things he can play with alone or with me, at the moment the only thing he plays with by himself is his train set or doing jigsaws, he has a toy kitchen, toy till, happyland, duplo, a little bit of playmobil etc but doesn't seem to want to play alone with them, he just lines up the cars in a row or asks me to set up the town etc and then declares he's bored after 5 minutes playing. He won't build anything himself with the duplo or other construction toys unless I'm also doing it and then he tends to copy what I do rather than thinking up his own things.

He will play pretend game with me or with other adults/children like serving up food in the cafe etc or being the shopkeeper but I get so bored of playing the same games with him over again. I know that's just his age, but I'd like to get something which might add some variety!

I've never really liked the themed playsets, Octonauts or Toy Story or whatever because I think they limit imagination but I'm wondering whether they would be good for him as he doesn't seem to know what to do with the more generic toys and situations?

I've got him some craft stuff, colouring and sticker books and a board game for his birthday, he also had a scooter a couple of months ago which he loves. Again he'll probably only do the craft/arty stuff with me but I don't mind doing that as much. He just wants to play on computer games a lot and I want to limit this or at least increase his choice so that he's not totally obsessed with one thing and has a range of activities he likes to do.

Any suggestions or ideas?

WeAllHaveWings Tue 02-Oct-12 12:42:34

from age 3-5 ds mostly played with trains and dinosaurs. He loved watching BBC Walking with dinosaurs and he had a huge box of good toy dinosaurs that he would play with for ages.

BertieBotts Tue 02-Oct-12 12:49:34

Ooh thanks - have just remembered we have a big bag full of dinosaurs in the cupboard under the stairs which we inherited from a family member and I'd put away for the moment! Will have to get those out smile

mobileadam Tue 02-Oct-12 12:55:29

Ohhhhh tough one. Probably more of a 'Being a parent' type post.

Sounds completely like my DS (even the same range of toys). I too get bored of 'role-playing' stuff but he enjoys it so much.

I recall being the youngest of three and everything was more fun when another sibling (or parent) was interested in joining in. Now we are at school full time I'm trying to include some after-school playtime that I know he will enjoy with us and be 100% focused on it (no cups of tea, checking the internet, doing odd chores etc) while also trying to encourage self-play at other times. Yesterday we just ran around and wrestled. I'm hoping that some dedicated playtime and self-play activities help my DS understand no everything can be 'fed' to him and he has to use is own imagination and creative skills to make things fun. At this point I could ramble on about the amount of toys / types of toys that mean kids are being over-stimulated nearly ALL THE TIME and when they aren't they just don't know what to do!!

Total obsession is also a problem in our house. We had the Piggy Bank game in July and played it 10 times a day!!! Now it rarely comes out. I do actually enjoy the board games so we are trying to get those out more and encourage that sort of playing.

Now back to your original question: We are trying out a few MB type games like Frustration this Christmas so we can all play with the adults not becoming brain dead. While I know my DS (4.5) is a bit young we are investing in a digital scalextric set for Christmas as this can be more of hobby if he gets interested that can expand and teach him a lot (plus all the growns up want to play it too - and they can these days, 6 cars on a track!!).

After school today we going to either play with his Playmobil sets or do some baking together (whatever he chooses) no chores, no travelling in cars to pick up things etc just quality kid time (in contrast to tomorrow's plans...)

Would love to hear how you get on

Blu Tue 02-Oct-12 13:03:21

Play this with him
this sort of thing is good but DS always liked it better if I built it with him.

Play doh with lots of tools.

The IKEA wooden train track (cheaper than Brio)

Having other kids to play is v good, though often other kids (or indeed siblings) can be counter-productive in construction games as they don't always settle and concentrate together at that age. But general imaginative stuff and cars and dinosaurs should be good shared play with other kids.

Rooble Tue 02-Oct-12 13:03:31

My DS really loved (and still loves) a road mat to drive his cars on, as he got slightly older he took to integrating that with his Duplo/train track. He would do jigsaw puzzles alone. His granny gave him a little satchel and cap and thin reel of paper which he uses to play bus conductors - he can do this while I'm cooking - so I ask for a ticket to London, he writes out the ticket and I pay for it (bit transport obsessed).
But I would agree it is difficult to think of things he can do alone at this age. By Christmas he may be ready to start to learn to follow the instructions for "big boy" Lego - the simple cars etc are really do-able and then good to play with once they're assembled. I will keep thinking and may add to this!

BertieBotts Tue 02-Oct-12 13:06:38

Ooh loads of good ideas, thanks smile

Not enough room for a scalextrix type thing here unfortunately, but the board games should be good I think.

Rooble Tue 02-Oct-12 13:12:28

Good games: spotty dogs, bus stop, uno, snakes and ladders...

IsItMeOr Tue 02-Oct-12 17:20:05

That sounds like hard work for you. I'm probably lucky that DS will entertain himself and make up his own games. The flip side is that he's reluctant to follow instructions and join in at nursery though - much prefers to do his own thing!

What I did to encourage him to play more by himself was to start off with e.g. building something with lego, and then when he was engaged with it, leave him alone with it for a few minutes and then come back again and play a bit more.

The other thing I would say is not to be too afraid of him being bored - you have to let him have time to think what he'd like to do iyswim.

Sorry, I know that's probably not much help!

IsItMeOr Tue 02-Oct-12 17:25:55

PS I share your aversion to branded playsets (although Octonauts are beckoning for Christmas).

Thanks to Fireman Sam, DS is hugely into firefighters, and he gets a lot of use out of his dressing up costume (it's a 3 in 1 reversible emergency services one).

He also likes his Playmobil fire engine. But tbh he gets most use out of our sofa, which we/he make into playhouses with a blanket. Can you set something like that up for him to play in, and then leave him to it for a bit?

BertieBotts Tue 02-Oct-12 19:50:56

He will play by himself if I go and set up his train set for him, he'll play with that for ages. It's just other things it doesn't seem to work on! If I leave he trails after me and says it's boring on his own. Or spends ages begging me not to leave and getting so upset over it that he totally forgets what he was doing (or gets cross and shoves it over in a tantrum) so it's hard to use that tactic, easier if it has a set point I can agree on first (like, I'll help you put the track together but I'm not going to play trains today)

I thought that was pretty normal TBH blush is it not? I'm not afraid of him being bored but invariably if I leave him to it he chooses to watch TV, play a game on the playstation, my phone or my computer or he mopes around whining.

IsItMeOr Wed 03-Oct-12 15:34:19

Sounds fairly normal to me! smile

Oops, just had to disappear while typing this because Tweak Bunny (aka me) was needed urgently in other room.

I read a book called Simplicity Parenting (or similar) which had this hypothesis that children needed a reasonably small number of high quality toys, and minimal (preferably none hmm) "screen" time (TVs, Playstations, computers, etc) and that would allow them the time to engage their own imaginations and find their own games to play. That's partly why we have so many toys shut up in the spare room!

I'm not sure how much it helps, but it might be worth a look. FWIW we limit 3.6yo DS to no more than an hour of TV per day (CBeebies and DVDs), and he rarely gets to look at PC or games on phone. It's frequently a major tantrum when we turn TV off - he has it in two half hour chunks morning and late afternoon.

Also, FWIW, DS is going through a very aggressive phase (please let it be a phase!), and I'm sure nursery are convinced we let him watch violent TV, play violent computer games and regularly beat him (hopefully I don't need to say that we don't...). So I'm not sure that we can have that much control over our little ones!

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