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Toddler (2.8 years) will not play on his own - advice needed

(5 Posts)
nikster76 Sun 07-Aug-11 12:06:50

Hello all - hope somebody can help us

My 2.8 year old son will not play on his own at all. Not for a minute. He is constantly asking my husband and I to 'come play with me'. The thing is we also have a 3 month old and there are chores to be done and dinner to be made. We cannot constantly play one on one with our son with cars as he demands and especially not during the week when I am on my own with the two of them.I do tend to play with him for say 20 mins intervals with cars as he requests throughout the day and then I say 'mummy has to make dinner now would you like to help?' or whatever the chore happens to be. However he is not that interested in doing anything outside the playroom and will either start to behave destructively to get our attention or will become very tearful and sad, lie on the playroom floor and suck his bottle and cuddle his bunny for comfort which makes me feel sad for him. Incidently he has always been demanding in terms of attention and although having a new baby brother cannot have helped, he was like this before.

A bit of background, he is the first grandchild and every second weekend we have a doting grandparent staying with us giving him one on one attention. Also my husband tends to give him a lot of full on attention during the weekend and in the evenings and I find it hardest on Monday morning when I simply can't maintain that level of attention.

It's causing stress between my husband and I as we are worn out by his constant requests and at the moment we are unable to have a conversation with each other if our son is in the room too as he will constantly demand attention. The only reprieve we get is going out of the house.

Has anyone experienced this and how did you deal with it?

Lady1nTheRadiator Sun 07-Aug-11 12:10:12

Can't you just say firmly - but gently - mummy has been playing with you and now I'm going to do XYZ - I will play again later. Just repeat - ignore the attention seeking stuff. Am I oversimplifying it? My DS is older but will try to stop conversations if he can. He gets a warning, then removed from the room.

Cattleprod Sun 07-Aug-11 12:14:56

Have you tried setting him 'tasks' with the promise of a star or sticker or treat at the end? Things like sorting his cars into different colours, or colouring a picture, or building a lego tower. Tell him you'll be back in 5 minutes to see how he's getting on, and make sure he gets his reward. Then you can gradually build up the time intervals.

Music might help too - does he have a cd player in his playroom so he can dance. A mirror so he can watch himself dancing/pulling silly faces etc would be good too.

BertieBotts Sun 07-Aug-11 12:22:48

I sort of eased DS into it, first I put his train set (his favourite toy) in his room, which encouraged him to go up. Until then I'd had all of his toys in the living room where I was. Some are still there, so if he wants to play nearer to me he can, but when that train set was the absolute favourite it had a real pull for him. I find if I am playing with him and I say "I have to stop now" he gets upset whereas if he's asking me to come up and play with him and I say "I'm staying downstairs" he's less upset. We also do compromises, like I will build the track for him and put all the trains on with their trucks etc, and then I come downstairs. I tell him this before we start, and with this kind of thing it's best to make a clear boundary, rather than saying "Okay, I'll put Thomas round this track once, and then I have to go downstairs" because he finds that harder to understand and keeps pushing it asking for one more. After I did the putting-trains-on-track I've always given him a kiss and said brightly "Have fun! See you later!" and now he won't let me leave the room without a kiss grin

Other things are doing a job in the same room, so you're still nearby and "watching" and they start to get so engrossed in their game that they don't notice you going into another room. Folding laundry is good for this, especially as if he notices you disappearing you can say "I'm just going to put this away, and then I'll be back".

Another thing is that when you need to stop, I find it best to give some warning, ie "Right DS I'd love to play all day but mummy has some work/jobs to do now. I'll make this car go down the ramp three more times, you can count with me. But then I'll have to go and do X. You can come and help if you like, or you can carry on playing with your cars, but I have to go and do X after I have done these three cars with you." DS usually does cry at this but it's quickly forgotten.

nikster76 Sun 07-Aug-11 14:50:42

Thanks all for your helpful replies. There is some great advice here.
Lady1 - It probably is that simple but I have been taking that approach for the last few weeks and still at the receiving end of crying, pleading etc. I thought it might have got a bit better by now. Perhaps I am expecting too much from him at 2.8 years?
Cattleprod - Tried your advice this afternoon and sent him off to find and return with all his red cars. In doing so, he got distracted in the playroom by another toy and I got 5 mins to load the dishwasher so thanks! Will be using that again.
Bertiebotts - Some great advice here. He is mad about his city streets mat and cars which is in his own playroom but the lure doesn't seem to be enough. I think part of the problem is that he doesn't know how to play with his cars and mat and relies on us to provide the imaginative scenarios bit. He seems a bit lost and unsure of what to do on his own.

Thanks again.

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