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Toddler playing alone - am I expecting too much?(9 Posts)
DS has just turned 3. He goes to pre-school a couple of mornings a week but otherwise we're at home/out and about (I'm a SAHM). We go out a lot but when we're at home he wants me to play ALL THE TIME and it's driving me bonkers! Any tips to get him to play independently some of the time, or do I just have to accept it? Trouble is, I find most playing really boring (am I the only one?) and feel like I could be much more enthusiastic if it weren't such a constant chore. Also, I have a 9 month old DD and DS makes me feel guilty/tries to get my attention when I give her one-to-one time. I sometimes (ok, often) end up putting the TV on just to get a minute's peace.
Am I alone? I'm thinking I'm not cut out to be a SAHM and need to start job hunting...
My dc are not great at independent play when I want them to be ..my great at it randomly but rarely when I want / need to get things done. Ds3 is better when he can get in the garden. Generally I need to be around - so might be 'helping' me or playing near by so I can somewhat interact. Some children do play totally independently (I have seen it) some like company. I find playing some games hard - so try and invest time in activities I don't mind (lego / baking / board games / some art things / hide and seek) and therefore don't feel so bad about being less keen on role play / pushing cars around.
My two are 2.7 and just turned 4 and it gets easier when they can play together! I've always found short bursts of an activity followed by short bursts of independent play, so I wil help set up a train track and then leave for a few minutes for ds to play with it. I often phrase it as 'oh, I just need to nip to the toilet', pop back for 5 minutes to and then say 'I need to out the bin out' and so on until you can build up to longer spells. I also think some dc are just more comfortable playing alone, my ds has always needed more of me than dd who will happily play on her own for ages. Play doh on the kitchen table is good whilst I clean the kitchen, again I can just dip in and out.
He needs to learn to amuse himself but it will only be for about 10 mins at a time, children need attention and interaction, you can’t expect him to play on his own all day. Set him up with an activity and set a timer, for 10mins and tell him to stay playing until the buzzer goes, then he can come and find you and talk about what he’s been doing. Turn this into the game, do it a few times a day. If he takes to this you can gradually increase the time.. once he gets the idea of playing on his own he won’t need the timer.
I think it depends on the child. My 4 year old has always been brilliant at independent play. She dropped her nap around 20mths, but could happily potter on in her room for an hour. My nearly 3 year old can barely manage 30seconds (unless she's up to mischief, or if I'm trying to get everyone out the house) by herself at times. Perhaps that's because she's always had a playmate though...
Anyway, you're not unreasonable for encouraging it! As others have said, set up toys and use the "I'm just popping to the loo/put washing in/etc" line. I've also found that setting out a task list is good, e.g. build a train with the Lego, read the airport book and do the mermaid jigsaw.
Persistence is the key!
Tbh this is why I accepted the 30 hours free childcare for my 3 year old.!
Could you send him to nursery every morning then it doesn't matter if you just do park or telly later on
Thanks everyone, some really good advice. RicStar, I think that's a good point about trying to direct to activities I'm more interested in - though DS is pretty obsessive, as in he watched some of the Red Bull Soapbox races with DH and wanted to play soapboxes exclusively for the next fortnight!! I also agree that maybe he's just never going to be great at playing alone - I already notice that the baby is a lot better at it than he was at her age.
Ladymayormaynot, I'm definitely not expecting him to play alone all day! 20 mins would be lovely, but I'll settle for 10. He just makes me feel guilty if I'm not with him - and if I leave the room, within 10 seconds he follows me. Apart from it being frustrating for me, I kind of think he would learn a lot more from playing independently (as he'd be doing at nursery) rather than having me to lead all the time.
Waterrat, I'm going to up his hours at pre-school after Easter, I think by the time they're 3 they need that time away (and so do we!).
My toddler is like this, I was actually a bit worried about it but now I just realise she's mega sociable, she also LOVES role play which like you, I find the most difficult, especially when I'm tired! I do turn the tv on a lot too. Agh.
I always wonder what people did before tv? I can't imagine parents playing with these kinds of sociable children for hours on end, so did they just tell them to go away? My dd practically hangs off my leg if I go to make a cup of tea
I do 10/20 mins role play ( always ruddy role play), 10/20 mins independent play then 10/20 mins craft or jigsaws (I hate this less).
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