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How the F**k do you get your (just) 7 year old to go and play?

(21 Posts)
Coffeefacescrub Mon 02-Jan-17 15:43:15

He has never played well on his own. Lolls around a lot, waiting for the time when he is allowed to watch TV until we VERY firmly tell him he has to go and play with the many toys he has. So, very reluctantly he goes off and does some lego for about 20 mins. That's as much as we can hope for.

He does a few activities outside of school, he's bright. He loves playing with others. Just not on his own. And he LOVES the screen, ipad or TV, which we limit, because otherwise he wouldn't do anything else. But it's like he's counting down the time in between...

It drives me crazy. Any thoughts? He's not a toddler, after all....

Yika Mon 02-Jan-17 15:54:02

Do you play with him? He might need ideas. My DD is quite good now at playing alone but I always do things with her the first time: build a den, set up a lego scene, etc. Maybe alternate playing with him with making him play alone?

I have also found that there's a kind of boredom pain threshold you have to push through before creativity emerges - I grit my teeth through the whining for one or two days and then something magical happens. We have occasional TV but no other screen time so it's not a temptation.

InTheDessert Mon 02-Jan-17 15:58:32

Yep, you need to leave them alone long enough so they want to do something! I currently have a 7 yr old and 5 yr old cat running round the place fconfused

Coffeefacescrub Mon 02-Jan-17 16:02:35

We do set things up. We do constantly clear his room so his toys are used. But we probably need to do it more. And we play with him A LOT. A LOT. Did I say, a lot? He is not short of attention.

I have to grit my teeth and ignore him so he falls quiet and goes off. It's horrible, though. Feels like I'm punishing him. But he has to know how to play independently, I think. It's a life skill.

ExcellentWorkThereMary Mon 02-Jan-17 16:05:16

Exactly the same with my 6yr old. Has to be really super bored for half hour moping and lolloping and complaining, then will go off and find something to do. I'm constantly saying"go and play!" "Find something to do!". We play together, I set stuff up, I give ideas... no answers though OP sorry! It's infuriating sad

Coffeefacescrub Mon 02-Jan-17 16:12:41

It is so infuriating. I want to scream.

GieryFas Mon 02-Jan-17 16:17:01

Solution here was learning to read and copious supplies of books. She has never played with toys, is prepared to do some craft activities, sewing etc now she's older and can manage them (she's 8) but basically the default is reading. Her little sister has a roomful of toys and plays with them a lot, I think it's a personality thing.

albertcampionscat Mon 02-Jan-17 20:23:11

I was wondering about reading/making up stories too.

BotBotticelli Tue 03-Jan-17 16:51:43

This thread is both reassuring and horrifying!! My 4yo ds is exactly like this and I was hoping he would "get there" with independent play as he got older....but maybe it's just not in his DNA?!

His 1yo brother is already MUCH better than him at playing on his own and will happily bumble about playing with toys for 15 mins whilst I do the washing or whatever. Ds1 on the other hand never leaves me alone with his whining and mithering...!

He does love playing imaginary games with his dinosaurs/beasts etc but seems to need ME to play too - arrrrgh.

Recently I have been a bit harsh with him and just shouted said "enough is enough, leave me alone. buzz off and play with your toys I need to sit down for 10 mins and have a cup of tea" and he looked totally shocked but eventually did slink off and potter about for a bit.

Sounds harsh but I have not had 10 mins to myself at home since 2012 and something had to give!

Anyway since then I have tried to enforce 10 mins of "mummy time" here and there and he is adjusting to it quite well.

He seems to cope better when I am visibly busy doing something like cooking the dinner - then he will rack off and play with torment his baby brother for 20 mins. But when I just want to sit the fuck down for 10 mins he is not keen!!

ExcellentWorkThereMary Tue 03-Jan-17 19:27:36

Just wanted to add a small victory today - "Doh Vinci" set. 6yr old shouted and grumped and hated me when I said "no screens" but I got out the Doh Vinci and left it on the table while I got on with stuff. 6yr old eventually went quiet and when I peeked, Doh Vinci was in full use, and I was left alone for FORTY MINUTES. Doh Vinci FtW! (And I thought it was a bit of a naff gift lol)

Believeitornot Tue 03-Jan-17 20:14:25

When you say a lot how much?

Because he might actually be a bit lonely but doesn't quite have the words for it.

So my ds is 7, and if his sister isn't playing with him, he will say he's bored and wants people to play with him. Yes we play with him but not every day.

As he matures and understands his emotions, he's able to tell me that actually he's feeling a bit lonely. So I let him join me in what I'm doing, or sit next to him and set him up with something. Then he starts playing eg building his Lego creations. Then I can get up and do my chores.

It usually gets worse when on reflection, I've not paid him the right sort of attention or he's feeling left out.

JellyWitch Tue 03-Jan-17 20:38:11

Drawing paper and pens are the only things that keep my 7 year old from pestering for screen time.

Coffeefacescrub Tue 03-Jan-17 21:14:04

Aw, believeornot, that's quite moving.

I don't think he's lonely, but maybe he'll start to tell me this.

Today, when I asked him to go and do something, he did for a bit, then came and hung around, and told me that he doesn't know what to play with. I make suggestions but maybe we need to be really involved in setting him up. My DH seems to think that's too involved, that if we left him for long enough, he'd get bored and find his way. But I'm not so sure. Maybe he needs more direction?

I don't mind if he comes and does something near me. He seems to want/need someone around, likes interaction etc. If he sits at the kitchen table and draws while I cook, I'm fine with that - but he finds it really hard not to then involve me, and ask me to constantly engage with or look at what he's doing.

I hate to think of him being lonely...

Believeitornot Tue 03-Jan-17 21:24:13

what sort of things does he ask to play? I think your DH is being a bit unreasonable re setting up - how will he learn if he isn't given any guidance? We spent quite a number of hours over the years sitting with ds playing Lego for example - and now he's graduated to building his own stuff. He also likes hot wheels - but when he first got it, we would play with him to set up different tracks so he got an idea as to what he could do.

We've always played quite a lot with both of ours dcs and I think the investment pays off - but when ds gets lonely it's usually a sign he needs more attention of us (we both work and have long commutes so he doesn't see us a huge amount).

Dd is pretty self sufficient but I think that's because we naturally spend more time "playing" with her - she likes drawing, reading etc which is easier than trying to come with a crazy Lego scene or playing knights!

Believeitornot Tue 03-Jan-17 21:27:05

Also re interacting with you while he's drawing - that's perfectly normal in our house! I don't mind it to be honest - I use the opportunity to build the dcs confidence and show an interest in what they do (e.g. Asking questions etc). There's no harm in a bit of chat then back to cooking, then saying "one minute ds" etc etc.

Coffeefacescrub Tue 03-Jan-17 21:45:22

Oh, don't misunderstand - we have spent huge amounts of time playing with him. DH is amazing - he's better than me at the Lego and trains etc. dS gets a lot of our time - we both work for ourselves and have a lot of time to give.

What DH is talking about is, when dS is asked to go and play, he should just go and find something. We've also heavily invested our time, and he should have a big memory bank of stuff to pull on and help him find something to do

Believeitornot Tue 03-Jan-17 21:47:55

Maybe being asked to play sounds like a dismissal to your ds? I explain to mine that sometimes I need to do a chore and am a bit busy.
I did find it a little sad your description of the cooking and ds drawing in the kitchen - but that's only because I'm over thinking it a bit!

Coffeefacescrub Tue 03-Jan-17 21:52:20

Well, we dress the request up a bit and we often say we have things to do. Honestly, there is no right way to say it to him. He doesn't want to hear it.

Why do you find the drawing at the table sas?

Coffeefacescrub Tue 03-Jan-17 21:52:30


leccybill Tue 03-Jan-17 21:59:44

My DD is almost 7 and an only. She struggles a bit in winter as she's an outdoorsy kid who is happy to potter in the garden, skip, dig, water plants, pogo.

The only thing that really keeps her occupied on her own is drawing/painting/writing stories.
Doh Vinci is a big hit in this house too!

Coffeefacescrub Tue 03-Jan-17 22:06:01

I'll buy the Doh Vinci!

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