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Five year old can't seem to function by herself (long)

(96 Posts)
JinkxMonsoon Sun 20-Nov-16 20:29:17

DD is 5 and has just started Reception. September born. And she has always been incapable of occupying herself without constant adult 1-1 attention. She has never been the sort of child to occupy herself with a toy or activity alone, even as a toddler. Her toys are always untouched. When left to her own devices she lazes on the sofa in front of the TV/Netflix/YouTube/iPad. Those are her only interests, if you ask her.

It's not like she doesn't enjoy crafts, colouring, looking at books, practising writing, doing puzzles, etc. It's just that she won't do them without an adult sitting next to her CONSTANTLY. The feedback from preschool was "she's a wanderer" who wouldn't get stuck into anything during a free play set up (which is a lot of what preschool is about, isn't it?).

It got even worse for a bit when her baby brother arrived when she was 3.8. She'd call out things like "I'm on my own!" and "I need someone to look after me!" even if I was in the same room as her - if I wasn't sitting next to her she had a problem with it. I mainly put it down to jealousy and her generally being a quite difficult, stubborn, demanding personality (to put it in context, she's a horribly fussy eater and refused to toilet train until she was nearly 4) but, if that were true, she'd behave different away from home, surely?

I actually mentioned this problem to her class teacher when I met with her at the start of term. And sure enough, at parents' evening last week she brought it up as an issue. DD won't get stuck into anything during free play. She just wanders. The teacher has been wracking her brains for an "in" and did we have any suggestions? I could only say no, because it's always been such a constant struggle.

I put DD to the test on Friday after school. Brought a few toys down and set them on the dining table. She chose a mosaic puzzle (that she'd forgotten she had, obviously!) and I sat with her for a while until my 18mo needed my attention. She then demanded help. I gently said that I was going to stay in the next room, but kept talking to her, suggesting she do all the purple tiles next. Refused. Lip wobble. Then full on sobbing and snot. Same result every time. She'll react in the same way if I refuse to help her get dressed, or wipe her arse, or accompany her to the toilet even, sometimes. She seems so self piteous, like she views this as rejection. And although there's obviously a sibling rivalry element to that scenario, there's more to it for sure. It's more widespread than merely demanding my presence when I'm occupied with DS.

It's got to the point now where I'm totally exasperated with her. Her life must be so boring if all she does at school is wander around aimlessly, unable to choose an activity and join in. Likewise, she has a bedroom full of toys and puzzles and STUFF she could play with, and it's all wasted on her because she mostly chooses to do nothing but watch TV.

I'm really starting to get frustrated with it all and I'm questioning what on EARTH I've done wrong to make her this way. She's certainly been "spoiled" for adult attention, since I'm a SAHM, but there must be plenty of children of SAHMs that can function without an adult looming over them constantly.

What can I do? I'm afraid I'm not inclined to persevere with forcing her to do activities without me because, I'm sorry to say, her tears and histrionics just piss me off. Sad but true. I just can't stand it. I'm just so exhausted having two children who demand 100% of me 100% of the time. If DD could just sit and happily play by herself for half an hour, it would be miraculous. Is it too much to ask?

Namejustfornappies Sun 20-Nov-16 20:36:55

My dd1 is 5 and August born, so yr1.
She also needs accompanying to the loo, having her arse wiped, help dressing, and we also have the histrionics. She also didn't toilet train until 4.
I'm pleased to say that although she was the same wrt needing an adult to play, when she started reception - by the end she was happily playing with other children, and with her siblings at home. Well often fighting as well, but at least interaction! She has also improved at dressing herself. Mostly.
So hang in there smile maybe she just needs practice.

Whooptydoo1 Sun 20-Nov-16 20:41:32

Not much advice really but my DD was the same, she's now 6 and for the last 6 months or so is a lot better, I find myself wringing my hands anxiously when she's playing on her own because I'm still not used to it, try and continue to encourage her as much as you can, "your such a clever, grown up girl doing that on your own" etc, when she asks for your help say something like "I'm just emptying the washing machine, I'll help in minute" and increase the length of time you leave her to occupy herself, sorry this isn't very helpful, but good luck!

JinkxMonsoon Sun 20-Nov-16 20:42:17

To be honest, I could live with the arse wiping and help dressing as long as she could show some initiative and learn to play by herself. I would cheerfully wipe her arse for the next three years if only she would do that grin

Dizzybintess Sun 20-Nov-16 20:42:39

Gosh you could be writing about my DD too
Mine is 5 but in yr 1 and the school have now been commenting about her concentration. Mine does not have a sibling though. I have had tone vastly cut out the level of TV she watches

Namejustfornappies Sun 20-Nov-16 20:45:29

Oh yes I forgot that. She only has 1-2 hours screen time a day. It was awful at first, but really helped. Lots of whining about being bored but she now soon finds something to do. You've just got to slog through the bored whiney crying bit

dontpokethebear Sun 20-Nov-16 20:48:03

Could you take away the option to watch tv/iPad etc?

youarenotkiddingme Sun 20-Nov-16 20:50:45

What about trying timers and rewards?

Start with just 2 minutes - so she is set up with an activity, then left to do it alone for 2 minutes <snot free!> and then gets a reward sticker. So many stickers gets her a reward of X amount of 1:1 time to do a craft of her choice.

This is something that can be used in school and home to keep it constant and you can increase the time in both settings alongside each other.

Bluetang Sun 20-Nov-16 20:58:15

It must be frustrating for you having your DD so lack in initiative and independence from you. Some children do very much prefer doing things with other people particularly at her age, how does she interact with the other children in the class and does she mix with them out of school? I would think in school the teachers should try pairing her up with other children to help her to learn. As has been suggested,loads of praise for when she is doing what you want her to do would be helpful.Also you could try having a special short time every day when you set aside time specifically for her to choose something she would like to do with you, so she knows that she has you to herself.I'm sure you will find this is a phase and in time she will become increasingly independent, good luck.

HRarehoundingme Sun 20-Nov-16 21:03:04

Name 2 hours of tv? If she is at school 9-3 and you take into consideration time for meals/bathing then there is no time for her to learn to play/amuse herself.

Haudyerwheesht Sun 20-Nov-16 21:09:53

Dd is 6 and very similar though she won't even watch tv or anything either. She's the youngest so not as if she's used to having one on one attention. She's just made that way I think.

Very occasionally now she will play with her dolls for 20 minutes or so or like today she went and made a rocket with cardboard tubes etc. It's still occasional though.

Afaik she's ok at school - she's in p2 which is like y1 I think? She LOVED nursery but always likes to be with people and if I'm around then it is always me.

PumpkinsOnTheMantlepiece Sun 20-Nov-16 21:11:32

My six year old is still like this. And won't go to the toilet, upstairs, nothing. Unless an adult is with her.

Thegiantofillinois Sun 20-Nov-16 21:13:21

Got one these (see my post on co-sleeping thread). She's horribly jealous of her older brother. She was a Velcro baby and drove me nuts. I feel She always needs me to prove how much I love her, but it makes me just want to get in t he car and drive away somewhere. Every thing HAS t o be me.

RandomMess Sun 20-Nov-16 21:15:36

Lots of playdates to give you a break!!! Once she learns to read it may help as she can read to herself whilst being in your company.

I would try the 2 minutes thing with a timer and slowly increase.

Very wearing indeed...

Mummyamy123 Sun 20-Nov-16 21:15:47

2 hours of TV does sound like a LOT to me. No offence.

JinkxMonsoon Sun 20-Nov-16 21:35:15

I'll definitely have to turn the TV off more. It'll be a huge fight (and I'm so accustomed to having the telly on all day for background noise - it's the way I was raised) but I'll try.

Two hours after school doesn't sound OTT to me btw! Home at 3.15, don't go upstairs to get ready for bed until 6-6.30 (depends on whether it's bath night). That's three hours easily.

Anyway, this isn't a thread for hoiking judgey pants or arguing about what constitutes excessive TV time, ta smile

Namejustfornappies Sun 20-Nov-16 21:35:38

She's awake at 6am and doesn't sleep until no TV in the morning so 2.5 hours of play no tv.
It goes on at 4.30 (1 1/2 hours after school) while I cook tea. Off at 5 for tea. Back on after tea 5.30-6 while I clear up.
She then gets a choice of iPad games or playing until 7 when we do bath for all children, and I get her siblings stories read and into bed. Then she gets me to herself for her bedtime story etc.
Works for us.

JinkxMonsoon Sun 20-Nov-16 21:38:49

Thank you everyone for making reassuring noises that you have children like this btw. When you have a teacher talking to you like it's not something she's encountered before, you start getting worried y'know?

CPtart Sun 20-Nov-16 21:39:03

My now almost 14 year old DS was like this. Still is. Never played with toys. Wanted to be alongside an adult, going out or about or watching tv. Even now his attention span (unless screen-related) is dreadful. We still call him mr 'two minutes' as he is also a wanderer.
I don't know what causes it or what the answer is but he's bright, confident and doing well at school so try not to worry. Used to infuriate me when he was younger though.

oldbirdy Sun 20-Nov-16 21:41:46

Get school to make her a choice board (you can have one at home, too). All activities are photographed (or written if she can read) and laminated, then teacher puts 4 or 6 items on a board (blutac or Velcro) each free play session. Dd takes the photo she chooses off, gives it to adult, in exchange for a sand timer. She goes to that area and has to stay at least until sand timer is finished, then return to pick a different activity. The timer starts small (2-5 mins depending on how skittish she is) and gets bigger, to 10-15 mins, by end of year. You can do the same at home.

CocktailQueen Sun 20-Nov-16 21:42:53

Cut screen time right down. It takes away kids' ability to think and use their imagination.

AdrienneVole Sun 20-Nov-16 21:44:49

I'm in no way bashing you OP but I do feel the inability to concentrate and the 'background noise' TV are very possibly linked.

Namejustfornappies Sun 20-Nov-16 21:45:47

(I have to say though that before dd1 started school - and now on holidays/weekends - ONLY 1-2 hours of tv per day is really not a lot when you have other children who don't sleep, you are functioning on about 4 hours broken sleep a night, and the child can't play alone, always needs you, can't play with their siblings, and you have other children and just need a break twice a day! Oh and they don't need much sleep either. So please don't judge. I'm doing my best)

JinkxMonsoon Sun 20-Nov-16 22:05:38

Cut screen time right down. It takes away kids' ability to think and use their imagination.

Is this a genuine act, or is it just something people say to make themselves feel like good parents and other people like crappy parents? Genuine question. Because DD has actually learned a tremendous amount through YouTube and apps, as well as watched an awful lot of total dross.

I'm in no way bashing you OP but I do feel the inability to concentrate and the 'background noise' TV are very possibly linked

I never said that she can't concentrate. She can't play by herself without adult supervision. It's not quite the same thing.

Namejustfornappies Sun 20-Nov-16 22:09:22

Op I have other children and the same screen time. Only one is so needy of adult company.

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