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To think they should be able to play alone for a bit

(29 Posts)
PinotAndPlaydough Sun 27-Dec-15 18:45:02

My daughters (who have just turned 2 and 4 respectively) will not play alone. Surely they should be capable of entertaining themselves for at least a few minutes? They have plenty of toys and a nice big bedroom to play in as well as toys in the living room, yet they won't play unless I'm actively involved in the game. Am I expecting too much? I would quite like to have time to do my own thing and not to be followed around whilst doing house work with with children repeating the phrases "mummy can you play with us and mummy I'm bored"

KatyN Sun 27-Dec-15 18:55:30

My 4 year old is really changeable on how much he can play by himself. Some activities he will sit silently for an hour, others he needs someone wth him.
He is particularly dreadful at entertaining himself after visitors. I like to refer to is as the grandparent hangover. It is a nightmare.

bornwithaplasticspoon Sun 27-Dec-15 18:57:28

Yes but you need to 'engineer' it. Set up a teddy bears picnic, make a den, create a 'shop' etc. Make it exciting enough that they'll be gagging to play and won't notice you tiptoe away..

FairyFluffbum Sun 27-Dec-15 18:58:39

Hmm they shouldbe able too but maybe they don't want to.

My two year old plays on her own all the time but occasionally she wants me to sit down and she brings me pretend food to eat and pretend tea to drink. She likes seeing me do it.

BeStrongAndCourageous Sun 27-Dec-15 19:05:16

My DD is almost 4 and is very good at playing by herself. I suspect this is because I've done a very good job at making myself the "boring parent" - my kids know that Mummy will read to them, or sing to them, and will always cuddle them, but she doesn't "do" playing.

I model myself on my grandma, who raised a brace of happy kids and never played with any of them. Complain to her that you were bored, and she'd give you a job to do, so you learnt to find other ways to occupy your time pretty bloody quickly!

Enjolrass Sun 27-Dec-15 19:27:42

My four year old has only just started playing by himself in the last week. He us nearly five.

WildStallions Sun 27-Dec-15 19:30:57

They are old enough to play by themselves.

PinotAndPlaydough Sun 27-Dec-15 19:43:38

Maybe I should start dishing out chores when they moan!
I actually enjoy playing with them but it can get tedious when I'm having demands made all day long.

I've tried setting up games and activities for them but unless it's a messy or creative activity they just don't seem interested.

Sparklycat Sun 27-Dec-15 19:44:59

My 22 month old has been playing independently for ages, she sets up scenarios (mainly with dinosaurs or dolls) and plays imaginative games with them for a large amount of time, up to 30 mins without coming to me for interaction. I might get flamed down for leaving her alone for so long (I'm in the same room!) but I think it's invaluable to teach them to play on their own.

usual Sun 27-Dec-15 19:47:02

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SilverDragonfly1 Sun 27-Dec-15 19:47:11

I must admit I just didn't put up with being followed about and nagged. I would play for a while, but then just did what I needed to do and ignored whinging. I don't really understand why people don't just say 'no'. It is so important for children to be able to entertain themselves and extend their concentration spans!

kesstrel Sun 27-Dec-15 19:49:15

I think this varies a lot due to personality differences. Also levels of development vary. You could try setting a timer and telling them they have to do their own thing until the beeper goes.

PurpleThermalsNowItsWinter Sun 27-Dec-15 19:50:30

My DC are 6&4 and have only just started playing alone together the last few months.

ghostyslovesheep Sun 27-Dec-15 19:54:51

you need to learn the following phrases


no one ever died from boredom

teacher54321 Sun 27-Dec-15 20:07:45

be strong at last a parent who is the same as me! I don't 'do' playing really-find it excruciating. I talk to da all day long, we go out and do fun stuff, I read loads of stories and do singing, but I don't do trains and cars. Luckily dh is a train geek who will happily play those for hours and both grandmas are great at puzzles etc. TBF Ds does play very well by himself smile

amitha Sun 27-Dec-15 20:07:48

I think you could try ignoring them harder!

I find if i keep busy near them they amuse themselves, the minute they notice I'm idle they're all over me.

tobysmum77 Sun 27-Dec-15 20:24:04

Of course they can play in their own, but you keep playing with them the second they moan.

witsender Sun 27-Dec-15 20:27:37

At 2.5 and 4 my eldest struggled, at 5 and 3.5 they're better.

Everytimeref Sun 27-Dec-15 20:36:00

They need to be taught how to play on their own. By giving in each time, how will they learn to be independent?
My DSS and DSD didnt know how to entertain themselves when I first meet them. They hadnt been expected too. My DH thought he had to entertain them 24/7, now he and they realise how important being able to occupy yourself is.

plantsitter Sun 27-Dec-15 20:49:39

I have one who will play on her own and one who finds it difficult. But if you push through the awful whingy bit I bet you'll find they'll do it for a bit. Practise saying 'I'm busy'.

By the way I find this difficult too but it is worth putting up with a few minutes' whining.

CFSsucks Sun 27-Dec-15 20:59:50

I know children like this (and they are older and it hadn't got any better) and it's because they were never just left alone when they were younger so they were utterly incapable of playing by themselves. It's excruciating when you are visiting and your friend buggers off and leaves you because her children want her to play hide and seek. hmm I find visitng her any time annoying as her children are constantly wanting something from her and she obliges all the time.

My children are good at playing by themselves, I'm not one to play (apart from actual games, stories etc) and don't really do sitting on the floor playing with toys, I find it so boring, then feel guilty. The DCs have even mentioned that "mummy doesn't play with us" but I get bored after a couple of minutes. They are great at entertaining themselves though which is what children do. I'm guessing you have given in a lot and played with them instead of saying no and that you had bits to be getting on with.

PinotAndPlaydough Sun 27-Dec-15 21:27:23

I think I do need to say no a bit more, before I had them I worked with children and I think I got into some bad habits especially with my eldest as I was so used to playing all day long at work.
My youngest is slightly better at entertaining herself but copies her sister with the complaining. I then feel really guilty that I'm not paying them attention

ginorwine Sun 27-Dec-15 22:33:25

My children played better on their own if I was near them and sort of alongside them .so that they knew I was close by and reassured .but if I was in a different part of the house they always came with me .for eg they wd have water play in the bath whilst I sorted clothes or cleaned .played with pans whilst I cooked etc .

blackheartsgirl Sun 27-Dec-15 22:41:18

I wonder about this with my 8 and 5 year old, they constantly want me to play with them, they also both have really short attention spans and it drives me nuts

MarlenaGru Sun 27-Dec-15 22:47:15

I think it is partially personality too. My sister could never play alone but I have always been able to. Both my DC just run off and play. I hardly even see my eldest when she and I are home, except for meals! Youngest is pretty good for her age too. I think I am exceptionally good at ignoring them when I need to get stuff done though blush.

I also find it horrendous when I have play dates and have children following me around the house asking me for things while DD plays happily on her own...

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