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5yo ds cries every evening because we haven't played with him (we have)

(26 Posts)
midwinterjicker Mon 09-Nov-15 08:45:08

5yo ds is a sweet and affectionate little boy, but he is driving me and dh round the bend at the moment with a relentless demand to play with him. I feel like we play with him as much as we can. We used to both work full time, getting home at 7pm and while one was preparing the dinner, we'd make sure the other would be giving him full attention. Likewise, after dinner, one of us plays while the other clears up. Weekends we spend all together, most of the time playing.

I'm not working at the moment so I pick him up after school and am with him playing until dh gets home and I thought this might make things better, but it hasn't. Sometimes, we'll be doing painting or lego and if I say 'now I have to go and make lunch' or whatever, he'll cry out 'but we haven't played yet!' - for him, playing is either pretend play which I'll admit I can't stand but will force myself to do, or running around/playfighting/chasing. Every evening when it's dinner time, he'll collapse into tearful laments that he hasn't had time to play with daddy.

He has a 7yo sister, who also nags us to play a lot, although being older she will now read on her own or get absorbed by some craft activity sometimes. I wish they'd play together but they're not really on the same wavelength and argue a lot (dd doesn't really have the patience for ds).

I can't decide whether we've played with them too much or not enough! Sometimes I think they just can't deal with the feeling of boredom. But we have systematically tried to encourage them to occupy themselves (setting a timer for our "adult time", getting them started on activities, then leaving them to continue, etc.) and it just hasn't worked. Then again maybe the constant nagging at us to play is just them wanting to spend more time with their busy, working parents (I have working mother's guilt in spades). We had a long weekend in the country planned and the thing that ds was most excited about for weeks in advance was that I'd promised to play catch with him when we were there!

lostinabook Mon 09-Nov-15 08:50:21


SnozBuriedUnderThePatio Mon 09-Nov-15 08:52:48

Does he go to any clubs or sports activities where he can have some physical play with other kids? I would try an after school or weekend football club or something along those lines so he can run about and play with other kids and learn that it doesn't have to always be you.

Orangeanddemons Mon 09-Nov-15 08:54:12

This is when I found Minecraft useful grin

ChoudeBruxelles Mon 09-Nov-15 08:54:58

I think children need to learn to be bored. Would it help if you did a timetable setting out when things happen so that he can clearly see when playtime, dinner, bed etc is

My ds (9) still gets anxious/upset if he doesn't know what is planned

ChoudeBruxelles Mon 09-Nov-15 08:55:42

Oh and instead of playing get him involved with doing other stuff with you, like cooking

reni2 Mon 09-Nov-15 09:02:45

I'd try quite hard to get them to play with each other, explain that grown ups don't play much. 2 kids in the house should solve this. Boredom is good, they might discover playing with their sibling is better than alone. This wouldn't work at 1 and 3, but 5 and 7 should not need a constant parental cheerleader. Try refusing more often and see what they do.

midwinterjicker Mon 09-Nov-15 09:05:45

Thanks! Yes playdates! We definitely need to do more of those - we've just started that and he has fun. As soon as they're over, he's back to asking us again! And we've signed him up for Saturday morning sport so get him doing something physical. Too early to know if that's helped.

Chou - I definitely agree boredom needs to be experienced and learnt. He knows the timetable, I don't think it's anxiety about not knowing what's going to happen. The problem is that anything in the timetable that's not playing (i.e. eating, shopping, bath etc.) is seen as taking away from potential play time and causes a loud lamenting session.

Maybe I should just resort to minecraft!

reni2 Mon 09-Nov-15 09:24:49

I have a shopping lamenter. I just say "Yes, shopping is boring, the night is dark and winter is cold, best get used to it" I'm turning into my mother

leccybill Mon 09-Nov-15 09:31:07

I've got a whingey 5yo DD who is moaning a lot lately about 'but you never play with meeeeeeeeee'.
She's getting a bit of tough love at the moment about learning to occupy herself a bit and, you know, play with the million toys she's got before the deluge of new ones arrive and we have to get rid of some old ones.
She's an only so no sibling to play with/annoy so it is a bit trickier.

I think I just miss the summer when I could chuck her in the garden and she'd happily dig in the mud/make magical potions for hours.
I think possibly Netflix is my friend here.

nightsky010 Mon 09-Nov-15 11:16:07

My DS is a bit like this. I'm trying to get him to understand that 'play' does not just mean the make believe games he thinks it does.

GoboTheGoat Mon 09-Nov-15 11:28:57

Just reading your post made me feel claustrophobic, which is how I used to feel when DD1 was smaller. She constantly wanted my attention and I found it stifling.

If it was something else he was asking for, eg sweets/screen time/going to the park would you be as accommodating? I don't think you would. But he is using your guilt against you.

This might make me sound awful, but I hardly play with my DCs at all. I do crafts with them, and they bake and cook with me, and we have days out. I read to them and talk to them and I comment on their games. But on the floor pretending to be a shop keeper or chasing them around the house? No. I don't do that. I don't think I know any parents that actually do. They need to explore those games themselves, and not be directed by adults constantly.

I think you need to use some tough love with this one. I don't really know how but the point of my post is to say that I don't think it is a necessary part of parenting to be devoting so much focused time on DCs. They do need our attention, they do need one to one time, but not every day for hours. At some point it tips into being counter productive.

reni2 Mon 09-Nov-15 12:07:23

I don't play much, either. I play board games and do jigsaws, I will play when it means helping, such as a difficult Lego set. I don't do tea parties or pretending to be a dinosaur and I always said it's something most adults don't enjoy, it is for children to do.

Kids are fun, but I am not an entertainer. They wouldn't dream of playing a game they hate and neither would I. They can tag along in the kitchen or hang out with a book with me or, if that doesn't appeal, find their own entertainment. I'm boooooored usually does a quick runner and plays with sibling if I say "tidy your room, where are your weekly spellings, let's do the 3x table" grin. I really have turned into my mother

MrsLeighHalfpenny Mon 09-Nov-15 12:10:41

Get him to help with whatever you're doing - so he can be laying the table while you're cooking for instance.

also - look into Beavers!!

midwinterjicker Mon 09-Nov-15 12:46:51

Your replies reassure me in a way because I've been doing all the suggestions so at least I've been trying in the right direction! I do reading, cooking, craft with them but say pretend play is something adults don't play; I try and get them involved in house stuff - laying table, washing. If ds does agree to help (as oppose to whine on the floor until I've finished), the minute we finish he'll go back into 'we haven't played!' mode. I say I'm not their entertainer, and that we all feel bored but learn how to find things to do. I leave the siblings and explain they need to amuse themselves, in the hope that they'll work out that they might as well play together, but they don't - dd just goes and reads a book and ds whines.

I don't know... I mostly think I should carry on with tough love, but every once in a while I think about all that "playful parenting" business and wonder if I'm not actually shutting down their attempts to communicate with me as best they know how. I agree, they're obviously using my guilt against me, but that doesn't me they're not trying to tell me something nonetheless.

Pantone363 Mon 09-Nov-15 12:50:00

I HATE pretend play.

Just say oh darling I don't like that game but I will play Lego/board games/puzzle etc.

Tell him DH loves it wink

SoDiana Mon 09-Nov-15 12:51:32

Get him a play station.

Kids are relentless in their demands.

reni2 Mon 09-Nov-15 12:54:04

If ds does agree to help (as oppose to whine on the floor until I've finished), the minute we finish he'll go back into 'we haven't played!' mode. No, we haven't played, and I won't, but you can.

Can Santa bring an irresistible toy for both of them to play together? (Big shop, train set, Lego castle or whatever gets both excited)

SantasLittleMonkeyButler Mon 09-Nov-15 13:13:13

Is it down to the words used? DD is 4 and if she asks to "play" & we, for example, get the Peppa Pig toys out, we have to say something along the lines of "here are the Peppa Pig toys, shall we play with these today? Tomorrow we can play with something else."

We find that if we don't spell it out, she might think that the Peppa Pigs (for example) were just a "thing" and not the actual "play". She will then still be saying that we promised to play & haven't done it yet.

Sometimes when she asks to play, she will also have something very specific in mind but not actually say that properly! Getting the Lego (or something else) out will distract her for a while, but when we then move to go & start dinner, for example, she will say "no but we haven't played". Meaning we haven't played the one specific thing she had in her mind when she asked to play. Therefore, in her mind, we haven't played at all.

Could it be something like that with your DS?

roundandroundthehouses Mon 09-Nov-15 13:35:52

Agh, yes - my dd1 used to be like that. As others have suggested, could it be to do with the words used?

I remember one day when dd2 was a toddler and dd1 was 4 or 5, when I knew that dd1 had been feeling neglected. I got dh to take dd2 away for the day and spent the entire day devoting myself to dd1. We had pretend picnics, baked together, read stories, did painting and sticking - everything I could think of. And at the end of the day she cried and wailed because I 'hadn't played with her'. Looking back, I'm pretty sure she thought the word 'playing' meant skipping around or some very specific thing that we hadn't done. But at the time I was felt so bloody angry, upset and hemmed in. Lots of sympathy for you.

gourd Mon 09-Nov-15 17:29:40

They just say stuff. It doesn't mean he actually thinks that. Our DD (5) says "I miss you Mummy" every evening. I recently changed working hours (in order to drop her at school) which means I now don't get home till her bedtime. I have no doubt that she doesn't miss me at all when playing with her Daddy, or reading her school homework/book or eating her tea. She just says it when I get home when she suddenly realises that I was out whilst she was having fun. I suspect your son is simply articulating that he has had a nice time and doesn't want it to end, r that he suddenly realises the playtime is finished and is sad about that, rather than that he really thinks you haven't played with him. Don't get upset about it. You can try to tell him in advance that playtime is nearly over - give a 5 minute warning and have "tidy-up-time" to signify clearly that this is the end of play, and keep doing that every night, and see if that makes the end of play less of a shock. Other than that just don't get upset and this stage will eventually pass!

midwinterjicker Mon 09-Nov-15 20:24:36

Yes, I think it is partly down to him not using quite the right words. I'll give all your suggestions a go and see if they help.

Doubletroublemummy2 Tue 10-Nov-15 00:43:49

Mine are 7 and at bed time still try the 'but we didn't play'. I think it's just a stalling tactic for not doing the thing they are meant to be doing, like going to bed. I have explained to mine that I am mommy and not playmate, they play with friends and each other all day long. Sometimes I will play but firstly Mommies are for caring, feeding, clothing, learning etc and will most likely get involved in reading or watching a movie. If they want to do stuff with me,.. grab a duster, we're playing clean the house ;)

stretch919 Tue 10-Nov-15 17:03:07

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stretch919 Tue 10-Nov-15 17:04:27

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