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Little bit of help with engaging a 7yr old boy in activities please?

(11 Posts)
SquishyCinnamonSwirls Thu 04-Aug-11 14:02:59

I'm a cm, and this week have had a 3yr old girl (that I mind full-time) and her 7yr old brother. No other children as mine is away on holiday with gp. I'm questioning myself as I'm finding it increasingly hard to engage this boy in activities, any, that do not involve an electronic screen of some form. It's not lack of activity: Monday we took the dog for a long walk and went to the park and then swimming in the afternoon, Tuesday we went to the seaside for the entire day, yesterday we went to a local fun day at our rugby club, today it's tipping down so mainly indoor things.
However, everything is approached with a negative attitude from him, regardless of enthusiasm from me or his sister, or (mutual) friends that we are with - he knows these children well but won't engage.
Monday morning (prior to going out) was spent on the playstation and when I asked him to switch it off after an hour and come out to the park I got attitude and a face like a smacked bum. Every spare minute at home was then spent asking to go on the pc, ps3, ds etc.
Tuesday at the beach, he didn't like the sand, he didn't want to jump waves and paddle, he didn't want to splash about, nor make sandcastles, or do anything with any of us and spent most of the day sat on the blanket with a face on. He kept asking to go on the amusements and then grumped about when I said no. Constantly asking for things - ice cream, amusements, to hire a deck chair as the sand was annoying him!
Wednesday - I banned anything electrical indoors as it was such a glorious day, suggested that he go out in the garden to play (trampoline, scooters, bikes, swing tennis, sand etc) all met with No. Finally decided on a homework help English book for about 10 mins. We went to the fun day (10 minute walk) and had moaning the whole way there and back that it was too hot and too far etc.

I'm getting concerned that I'm approaching this wrong. Their Mum parents very differently to me and that's becoming very apparent, although she's respectful of how I run things here. Am I just meant to let him be content with sitting in front of a screen for 6 hours a day?!

Today I've suggested lego (I sat and made loads of stuff with the little girl and tried to involve him in making space-ships, cars, trucks, robots etc), painting, cooking, hama beads, scrabble, monopoly etc to no avail. I'm used to being surrounded with girls, and have been wondering if I'm coming at this from the wrong angle.

Any ideas please?

DrSeuss Thu 04-Aug-11 15:55:21

The kind of home science that involves all things yucky? Slime etc?
Would the Horrible Science books help there?

Making a video and editing it?
He could plan story boards, you and the three year old could star!

Taking and editing digital photos?
Just going with the computer mania but channelling it a bit to art work rather than just games.

Later this week if the weather improves, we will be filming ourselves dropping Mentos into bottles of Diet Coke.

Using the computer to produce a magazine of the holiday?

Treasure hunt?

Places like Wilkinsons and B&M have lots of boy orientated crafts such as wooden models.

Making a wormery? Decorating cakes but with wacky colours and things such as jelly snakes? Boys love all things yucky!

An0therName Thu 04-Aug-11 15:57:21

coming from as a parent of a 51/2 year old boy -he would quite happlily sit in front of a screen for 6 hours - its like he forgets that other things are fun. I would say some screen time would be ok - may do it as a reward - so if played nicely
and I would say that quite alot of the things you suggested eg painting and hama beads might be considered both girly and babyish -my DS likes them BTW
Does he like football - could you kick a ball around with him? And chase games seems to go down well here
and the other children were there; any boys his age or a bit older? as my DS much prefers to play with boys and same age or older

SquishyCinnamonSwirls Thu 04-Aug-11 16:54:24

Thanks for the links Dr Seuss. smile
I disagree about the yuckyness (sp?) though! I've been out in the garden last week and trying to get him into mini-beasts etc and helping pull up veg, plant stuff etc and that was met with disapproval. He doesn't seem to like getting down and grubby like my dd will for instance.
Bought him a meccano type set that my dh tried to sit and do with him and he was fine for 10 minutes but then got frustrated and bored that it took longer and it took a whole lot from my dh to try and keep him focused and "on task".
He LOVES football An0thername, which is why we went to the fun day, that was really good as I knew lots of people going with boys but they're obv not around all of the time. Apparently I'm boring to play football with (probably cos I value my ankles :D ) and his sister just gets in the way.

I'm really looking forward to my dd getting home tomorrow as then next week will be much easier as they'll occupy one another (and argue like cat and dog smile ) a lot more. I just dislike them sat in front of screens all the while when there's plenty of fun to be had doing other interesting stuff. Like you say, it's almost as if he forgets that he can have fun.

colditz Thu 04-Aug-11 16:59:31

Gosh what a terribly dull child he sounds.

Does he lack imagination? Junk modelling is usually a winner to capture even the most truculent and screen obsessed of boys (I have an eight year old with ASD - he's pretty screen based if allowed).

Get him to make his own working model of some weapon he's seen on a computer game - such as a gun turret, or a tank, or a bomb shelter - and decorate it with "Camoflage strips" (green and brown paper). You can do something less violent with the 3 year old (If she lets you)

JemimaMuddledUp Thu 04-Aug-11 17:00:26

I think the key might be lack of boys the same age as him to play with. I have 2 boys aged 7 and 8 and it is almost as though they are pack animals, seeking out other boys to be with. They would laugh at me if I tried to play football with them, but will kick a ball back and forth between themselves or with similar aged male neighbours for hours.

At 7 as well they can get a bit frustrated with lego/meccanno etc as they want to be able to do it themselves but aren't necessarily quite able to yet.

colditz Thu 04-Aug-11 17:02:00

Or plasticene - say you are trying to make models of all the characters of super mario world but can't remember them all.

Or get him to put a train set together, and make little boxes to fit over the trains that have MaRioKart thingies drawn on in felt tip, then he can make the mariokarts go round the 'track' which he can also customise with lego 'choice boxes' and plasticene banana skins......

SquishyCinnamonSwirls Thu 04-Aug-11 17:25:16

You know what, I am LOVING these suggestions thankyou all!
However my heart is sinking at suggesting them and getting all the toot out to do it as I know he'll give me a "look", you know the one - up and down and then straight in the eyes, as if to suggest you are in fact just a complete moron?!
I think I'm going to have to bite the bullet and discuss this with his Mum. A friend of his lives in our street and he's asked to play out (which as I'm being paid to look after him I'm reluctant to do!) even though his Mum has given me permission to. The other boy came in and played on the ps3 with him for a bit one day last week but I'm nervous of letting him play out in case something were to happen and he's under my care.
I want him to have a great time over the holidays while he's with us, but I really want him to step away from a screen and interact and have fun with everyone else.
The beach thing the other day is what has really got to me. I have never seen a child have so little fun on a day out. It's stumped me and made me feel out of my depth in my ability to get him involved. Just because I wasn't chucking money about and said No to rides, amusements, endless ice-creams and coke to drink he had a (seemingly) bad day.

It's almost like he's 15 in a 7yr old's body.

mogs0 Thu 04-Aug-11 17:31:08

I feel your pain!

I have 2 mindees like this. An 11yr old girl and 4 yr old boy. It is very draining.

When my 8yr old ds is here the 11yr old is much happier and they get on quite well but I can see signs of that not lasting too much longer sad.

As for the 4 yr old, I think he is copying his sister. He displays behaviour I have never seen in such a young child - lacks enthusiasm in practically everything.

I am constantly trying to find things to do with them in the holidays that doesn't include having the wii or ds on. 11yr old now has a mobile phone and spends a lot of time playing on that. Would I be unreasonable to ask her mum to leave it at home in future?

Do you have any playmobil? My ds is a similar age to your mindee and sometimes we have a 'no tv challenge' which lasts for approx a week. When there is no tv/computer games, ds and another boy mindee of same age will spend ages playing with playmobil. It's a bit easier than lego and takes less effort to get a game/story going.

Also, colouring and drawing keeps my ds occupied. He's never been all that keen on either but just recently he's started drawing monster trucks or lego people (mostly inspired by wii games but I can cope with that grin).

Good luck with the rest of the holidays!!

mogs0 Thu 04-Aug-11 17:36:25

Could you maybe just get the activity going without suggesting it to him first? Sometimes the name of something can create an image of something boring but if you get it all up and running he might see that it could actually be fun and want to join in.

glisters Fri 05-Aug-11 20:54:42

Sounds like you are doing a fantastic job. Maybe he has to learn how to do these activities - it will be great for him educationally and socially - I would persevere inspite of his grumpiness!

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