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When do children start 'imaginitive play' ie play on their own a bit lol!!

(18 Posts)
willweeversell Tue 12-Aug-08 20:59:59

DS is 22 Mo, a delight really but he DOES NOT play on his own, or if he does it will literally be for 1 minute max. He goes to nursery 3 days per week and always seems engrossed with all thr toys/ other kids/outside play area there but at home he wants my undivided attention every moment he is awake! he is an only child, not sure if that ir relevant though. We try to buy him new /interesting toys but obviously there is a limit to how much we can keep buying!!

Or perhaps to put it in a slightly more positive way, any tips on how to encourage imaginative / individual play at this age or am I onto a losing battle?

soph28 Tue 12-Aug-08 21:06:03

My dd (just 2) will play for up to 15/20 minutes but that is quite rare. She also has older brother (3) to entertain her/fight with. She will push dolls around in her buggy, put them on the potty, make cups of tea, look at books, pretend to be a horse/monkey/puppy etc.

You could start with asking him to make you a cake and a cup of tea- use a box to make a pretend cooker and give him a pan and a wooden spoon and some plastic cups etc.

Debra1981 Wed 13-Aug-08 00:18:15

my daughter gets like this and i find the best remedy is to put some toys outside- she seems a lot happier on her own then

Overmydeadbody Wed 13-Aug-08 00:21:22

Children don't need to have developed imaginary play in order to play on their own, but all children are different, if your DS has only ever been used to having you interact with him at home 24/7 then that is what he will expect.

I'm not sure the only child bit is relevant, DS is also an only but has always been very independant.

The best waty to encourage him to be a bit more independant is just by giving him lots of opportunity to be. Leave him more and more. Give him toys but don't actively play with him all the time.

Overmydeadbody Wed 13-Aug-08 00:21:54

In other words, be a facilitator to his exploration and play, rather than an active participant.

harpomarx Wed 13-Aug-08 00:25:03

I'm with omdb on this. I really don't play that much with dd although we are together nearly full time. She is great at independent play and has been for perhaps a year or so (she is just 4) She is only child too.

I actually would buy less toys and make sure the ones he has are the kind of thing that will encourage him to be inventive. Train sets, cars, lego, that kind of thing. Not electronic stuff. I think kids get overwhelmed by too much stuff.

Overmydeadbody Wed 13-Aug-08 00:30:52

and I agree with harpomarx, stop buying new toys all the time, be selective about the actual toys you buy and give him a chance to properly investigate all sorts of ways of playing with them.

S1ur Wed 13-Aug-08 00:44:06


My dd (pfb) was keen to play with me alot up until older than 2 iirc. I used to be amazed that friends could wash up or have a cuppa without their child needing them. My 2nd dc played much more independently, much earlier. Both are actually very confident, independent children when taken somewhere like a playground and have been from very early.

I think that I could've maybe encouraged more independent play at home from my dd. I see that with the way I am with ds. I will set up activities and then say things like 'I'm just off to make lunch/have a coffee/do some work/mn wink whatever.' and then leave them to it for a bit, only poking my head round to pick up spilt sand and glue and toys blah blah.

This only gives about 10-15mins before they get bored but its an attitude of I'm not always involved.


I was involved a lot in dd (my pfb) play and she loved it and so did I. And she benefitted from having adult 1-to-1 and has still become very independent.

So, I would say, encourage a bit of independent play, particularly if you need a break, by setting things up then 'popping' out. But make sure you still have time to play with him because that's bloody good too.

dandycandyjellybean Wed 13-Aug-08 07:54:45

deffo agree with the less toys theory. My ds 2.9 is good at independant play for short bursts (unless he's tired ironically, then he will lie on the floor for ages with a couple of toy cars and imagine all sorts of journeys! cue mummy making dinner/unstacking dishwasher etc).

However, he really started to develop this when I decided he had too many toys and put about 2/3 of them away in a cupboard. I kept his absolute favourites and a few others, and chop and change them periodically.

When they have too many toys the just 'butterfly' from one to the other because they are constantly distracted (and sometimes overwhelmed with choice which is where playing with you comes in, you help him to stay focused and 'decide' what to play with). Whenever I'm tempted to buy new toys, I really challenge whether he needs something new, and tend to let the gparents and visiting rellys supply them. He has had the most fun over the last week or so with a small bucket of water and a paintbrush on the yard 'painting'. I couldn't beleive how much he enjoyed it, and coz it kept drying up he'd always got something new to do, and other than periodically popping in and saying 'wow, look what I made!' he was out there for ages.


keevamum Wed 13-Aug-08 08:05:09

I agree with a lot of the posts on here. DD1 was exactly the same she wanted me to play with her all the time but then that was expected of me and I did. DD2 never received that kind of attention and she is now 2 and 3 months. Her pretend play is so much more advanced than DD1's at the same age. In hindsight I think I would have encouraged a bit more independencefrom DD1 as she still lacks some imagination and will read/ watch t.v./ play on the computer happily on her own but not 'play'.

Acinonyx Wed 13-Aug-08 12:57:27

dd (3) loves pretend play but i always have to be in it too hmm

If I have to play 'birthday parties' once more....

harpomarx Wed 13-Aug-08 13:15:04

my heart goes out to you, Acinonyx. I particularly dread 'playing cars'. So hard on the knees, too.

Acinonyx Wed 13-Aug-08 13:35:27

Ah yes - having to be on the floor all the time. I get well told off if I try to sneak onto the sofa. Or if I start to lean over and recline.

It does get taxing to be sufficiently surprised by the same 5 or 6 presents (wrapped in the same dog-eared napkin and ribbon) after several weeks.

harpomarx Wed 13-Aug-08 13:40:43

you get ribbon on your birthday presents??? envy

mine just come in a crumpled bit of newspaper.

DwayneDibbley Wed 13-Aug-08 13:40:51

Message withdrawn

Acinonyx Wed 13-Aug-08 13:50:28

Well I have to tie the ribbon - and woe betide me if I don't make a good picture-perfect job of it.

Dwayne - I often have to feel dd's head to see if she's hot and give her 'medicine'. Sometimes bear needs medicine too.

Recently dd has taken to re-enacting my (frequent) occaisions when I have got a bit lost and had to 'ask the man' for directions. She now senses this approaching and will starting suggesting I 'ask the man' if I seem to be dithering. Proper little back seat driver hmm

DwayneDibbley Wed 13-Aug-08 13:52:54

Message withdrawn

halogen Wed 13-Aug-08 22:48:52

My daughter's 23 months and I've found the best toys for encouraging imaginative play are the kind of things that mimic real life, so Playmobil figures (obv not a good idea if your child is the kind who will put everything in his or her mouth), dolls house with furniture, tea set, little cars, small gardening tools etc. She will happily do something like a teddy bears' picnic on her own for about twenty minutes as long as she has the right props.

The thing that will hold her attention for much longer than I would really like it to is standing up on a chair by the sink and playing with a sink full of water and bubbles. It's very messy and generally requires a complete change of clothes unless it's very sunny. A slightly safer version of this (if you don't want to be by them every second) is a bowl of water and bubbles on the kitchen floor or in the garden - give them a whisk and some spoons and plastic cups and let them get on with it. Some soap will be ingested but it's probably not poisonous. Or do it without soap and make it a tea party. Pouring water is apparently great fun if you are nearly two.

In the same vein, tear up a newspaper or two into long strips and put it all in a laundry basket - my daughter finds this hilarious and chucks it everywhere, climbs in the basket and buries herself, covers her toys in paper and finds them again etc. Also, this is a great game for when you are knackered. I can lie on the floor for at least half an hour while she covers me up and uncovers me as long as I'm prepared to keep up a half-arsed commentary.

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