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4 year old only child refusing to play alone for so much as five minutes

(21 Posts)
namenamename Mon 07-Dec-15 17:40:09

Is this a thing with only children? My DD doesn't want to play alone at all. I find this very hard, especially when I'm trying to cook dinner. Because she will stand in the kitchen and whine and whine and whine saying 'play with me, play with me' over and over. Grabbing me and pushing me and standing behind me.

I really need to get out of the habbit of having the TV on every afternoon while I cook. I feel like she's never going to learn to play on her own while she is staring blankly at the TV. The more we have it on the more she talks about it non stop and asks for it every waking moment wanting it on more and more.

I've asked her why she doesn't want to play alone and she just says she can't. The vast majority of her toys she won't play with alone.

Is this normal?

PrimeDirective Mon 07-Dec-15 17:55:38

It's not unusual. Some kids do play on their own but many find it really hard.
I had a few things in the kitchen that could keep mine occupied while I talked to him and cooked. Getting her involved if you can (even doing pointless tasks) will mean more interaction while you get on.

LauraChant Mon 07-Dec-15 18:10:43

DS1 was kind of rubbish at playing on his own, until he got a big box of Lego. He didn't have the imagination for small world play by himself but he liked building things. Some things I used to get him to do while I was cooking - smell and sort the spices in all the jars, "washing up" the play tea set, Play doh on the kitchen table, drawing things I suggested...and the Lego of course.

namenamename Mon 07-Dec-15 18:35:26

Lego is the main contender of things she will definitely not do alone. Silly, because if we sit with her she can go through and read all the instructions and do it herself.

I find her 'helping me' beyond stressful. She is a grabber and not one to listen to reason.

If I am in the room doing something else she has no interest in her toys unless I do it with her.

Piratespoo Mon 07-Dec-15 18:38:22

You need to teach her. If you always give in, she'll never learn!

Hawest1 Mon 07-Dec-15 18:40:02

U could try involving her in cooking? Obviously just easy tasks.
Or what about things like drawing? She could sit up & draw while I cook.
My DS is 3 & he went threw a stage of being stuck to my side & the only time I would get more than 5mins to myself is when he was drawing or painting. Simple tasks like hoovering where an absolute mission because he would get in the way fall over the cable etc etc, so he got his own Hoover & he 'helps' now (sometimes even takes the real Hoover round the room for a Bit while I do something else lol)

Hawest1 Mon 07-Dec-15 18:42:01

Posted too soon**
I think they just like to feel involved. So try 'u stir this while I do that' or 'u pass me that while I do this' get her her own kitchen stuff, her own Hoover etc to 'help' ☺️

namenamename Mon 07-Dec-15 18:48:24

I don't give in piratespoo, the whining just goes on and on forever regardless. Yes, I am asking for advice on how to teach her. That's the point.

Tbh she isn't really interested in cooking. Just wants me to play. I think it's part tiredness as its worse at the end of the day. I try to get as much of dinner prepared as I can while she's at preschool.

Yes, I will give drawing another go at dinner times. Thanks.

I feel like at 4 she should be able or even want to play on her own with things more.

Hawest1 Mon 07-Dec-15 19:08:58

Yeh some just cling a bit longer than others, it's not entirely a bad thing.
If it's something easy u r cooking u could even try 'ok u go set up this game & I'll be there in 5mins' or something like that.
I don't have that problem anymore as I have a 3yo & a 1yo so they play together quite often (when they aren't segueing!! Haha) so I can get away with saying 'u show ur brother how to work that while I go start the dinner' or something.
I hope u manage to sort something, there is nothing worse than trying to concentrate on cooking or cleaning & getting the 'mum mum mum mum help me' etc at the same time

Hawest1 Mon 07-Dec-15 19:09:48

Arguing* not segueing lol. Damn autocorrect!

howabout Mon 07-Dec-15 19:19:09

I have a 4 year old. She does this especially when tired or under the weather. A lot of my friends with 4 year olds are also complaining about it. I think it is a phase to do with separation anxiety as they get more independent.

On coping with it I don't put up with being physically coralled. That results in instant removal from the room. I do try to make sure I sit down and spend some time each day just focussed on playing and being with her. When we are playing together i try to step back and let her run the game - sometimes she really wants company rather than someone to play with.

I am finding the constant tired whinging and whining more of a trial at the moment, but I'm assuming she'll grow out of it.

lenibose Mon 07-Dec-15 19:25:57

I just posted this on a thread. I use a timer and speaking to Mummy before the time is up will result in some v minor punitive measure. It won't work at first. But start off with a 5 min timer. Nothing can't wait for 5 min. And I tell him if he needs the loo he can go himself. So for 5 mins I do not want him speaking to him, standing next to me etc. It's a matter of habit but in my head like sleep, eating varied food etc I concluded that it is an essential life skill to be able to deal with some loneliness/boredom and not seek constant entertainment. The first few times you might need to set it up more: so offer three activities the child can do in this period. But we did it for a few months and it worked really well. I can now say, I need to do X, do I need the timer or can you go off and not speak to me till I am done? And he almost always can. It feels a bit harsh and like training a dog to be honest but he gets a LOT of attention from me, we spend a great deal of time together and I reckon that teaching him to play alone is quite important.

ffffffedup Mon 07-Dec-15 21:47:16

Tbh I don't see the big problem with her watching the TV for that short time whilst you do dinner she's happy safe and entertained whilst you get to prepare dinner quickly and hassle free

ffffffedup Mon 07-Dec-15 21:49:03

Ps also how long does it actually take to cook/prepare dinner what do eat that takes all afternoon every afternoon to make???

namenamename Tue 08-Dec-15 05:43:29

I can't see where you've got that I had it on all afternoon? I didn't. And I explained why I don't want to do it any more pretty clearly.

Thanks for posting everyone. I've been thinking that maybe I need a timer or something that she can see clearly.

ffffffedup Tue 08-Dec-15 08:43:24

having the TV on every afternoon why I cook hmm

Millionprammiles Tue 08-Dec-15 08:47:50

I second the suggestion of trying to involve her. I very much sell it as 'if you help mummy do this then we'll finish the chores quicker and have more time to play.' Sometimes she'll get a sticker on her reward chart for helping etc.

You do need to be quite firm, part of it is simply normal 4 yr old behaviour, trying to control what is happening.

I understand your reservations about tv, I've no issue with small periods of tv but there's often a tantrum when its switched off which I'd prefer to avoid.

Incidentally I wouldn't assume its only happening because she's an only child. I know plenty of parents who have both kids whining at them to play or are having to break up siblings fighting. Most parents I know find that 'end of the afternoon' slot tricky, regardless of how many kids they have.

ClancyMoped Tue 08-Dec-15 09:01:12

I think it would be a pain to involve her. I'd remind her during the day that you want some peace and quiet when you make supper and that she must leave you alone. She can do what she wants but she can't bug you. I would also tell her that you will play with her afterwards. Tell her that whining is irritating and unfair to you.

I had four kids close in age who hardly napped so I'd have found it really frustrating if they had wanted me to play with them all the time.
It helped that I think it's healthy for them to be ignored. They can understand the concept that you want/need some peace and quiet sometimes.

What games do you play with her? Make believe games can be dire 😳

namenamename Wed 09-Dec-15 08:16:37

Yes, I has the TV on every afternoon while I cook, not all afternoon.

Thank you all again, I am taking it in.

She is very into board and orchard type games ATM, but yes make believe too and they are awful!

Piratespoo Wed 09-Dec-15 11:50:46

does she not play with her toys at all by herself? does she have ponies to make stories with or lego to make, or jigsaws to do? she needs to learn in 5 min increments maybe, that she must play on her own for 5 minutes, then she can have your attention. Give a drawing to do or some playdoh, and then she must learn to sit and do something. What will happen at school? She must learn to concentrate so you teaching her is the only way. Dont give in to her whining and say no, i said play by yourself for 5 /10/15 minutes. and then sit at the table with a book or something and ignore her.

ffffffedup Thu 10-Dec-15 07:58:57

Ok so she watches TV for half an hour or so every afternoon?? If you have the tv on whilst you cook does she leave you alone or is she still coming in to mither? If she leaves you alone then I really don't see why half an hour tv is going to do her any harm to be honest.
I understand you want to encourage alone play but seriously pick your battles. Why can't your cook time be her tv time? She's safe and you can cook quicker and easier on your own I'm assuming based on my own dc that doing it by yourself rather than get her involved is quicker and less stressful
How about trying to tackle self play at other times like you having a bath or shower she's got to play in her room til your finished or if you have washing to put away she has to play downstairs or in her room for 10 min why you do whatever you need to then after that you'll have a QUICK game of shop or school or whatever she wants to play if she's left you alone

I can imagine it might be quite exhausting for you if you just want 5 mind peace

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