Jump to content

How do you encourage independent play?
My 4 year old is driving me spare


  • Please log in to reply
18 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_Dinah_Harris_*

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:24 AM

I need some tips desperately for teaching my 4 year old to play more independently.   I set her up with activities like trains or dolls or painting etc,  sit and play with her for a little while and then go do some stuff.
Five seconds later she is whinging at me:   Muuuuuummmm I'm booooored!
She has absolutely no capacity for self directed play.   I'm not getting even the most basic household chores done because she is hanging off me constantly.
I take them both out every morning for an activity like library story time,  music class etc,  and in the afternoon we go to the park.   So it's not like there are massive chunks of time I'm expecting her to play for,  but not even 30 minutes!
Anyone got any tips?

Edited by Dinah_Harris, 23 January 2013 - 08:25 AM.


#2 Turn left

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:32 AM

I'll be interested in hearing replies on this topic too.

I have 2 DDs.  Both totally different in their capacity to play independantly.  My just 6 yr old DD has always been great at playing on her own, since she was very young.  However, my eldest DD who is  just 7 years old cannot play on her own STILL!  I have encouraged independent play for years to no avail.

#3 Guest_Dinah_Harris_*

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:36 AM

I hear you,  Turn Left.   My 17 month old DD2 is brilliant at playing on her own.  Go figure!

#4 Hypnic Jerk

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:36 AM

in this case it needs to be taught.

try using a timer?  "Is 5 minutes up?  Noo, you need to play with your trucks for 5 mins"

Maybe?

#5 lucy-lu

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:39 AM

I have ds 3.5 and dd 2 and they are ok.
He enjoys time on his own playing with his tools outside, which is where he is most happy to be alone or with his sister. When they are outside I try to stay out of sight, hehe, have a sneaky snack inside.....
Inside both kids seem to need me more, not sure why.


Currently both kids have a paint brush and a small container or water and are happily painting outside.

#6 Feral timtam

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:50 AM

"The sun is shining, go outside and play" using the no argument voice.

In your case OP, hand the child a child sized broom and tell her to sweep the floor. Get her to help with the chores, she's not a newborn that needs constant attention any more!

Then again, I've never 'entertained' my kids. They've been expected to entertain themselves from birth.

#7 amabanana

Posted 23 January 2013 - 08:50 AM

What does she like to do?  Maybe she's just not really into dolls or whatever you set her up with?  Maybe she is a people person and it's just that she prefers your company to playing by herself.  I know that doesn't help you get your stuff done but it may give you some insight into why it's not working. Perhaps you need to say to her, 'I am going to go and do 'x' now.  It's important that you don't interrupt me.  I'm going to set this timer and I will play with you when it rings.  What would you like to do while I am doing 'x'?  Start with a couple of minutes and gradually make the time longer.

Or, if you are trying to do things, get her to help.  Ie, folding the washing she can match the socks, mopping the floor she can clean the dirty spots with a cloth etc etc.  I find in our house they either help because they are interested or they will run and hide because they don't want to help!

#8 liveworkplay

Posted 23 January 2013 - 11:53 AM

Give her a house cleaning chore. My girls have always liked washing things. So I set them up with a container of water and a cloth and they wash the walls, cupboard doors, floor, bath, anything I tell them too laughing2.gif At 9, 6 and 3 they are quite good at it now and it saves me time laughing2.gif

I think it is a personality thing and a little bit of a first born problem as well. My firstborn, from the moment she popped out, needed constant attention. However, from a babe, the second born would happily play on her playmat for 20-30 minutes at a time, something unheard of with DD1. With DD3 I had to keep reminding the older ones to "leave her alone!!" biggrin.gif But she is pretty independent in most things except needing company in the toilet rolleyes.gif

#9 lizzzard

Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:03 PM

DS4 is much more of a 'natural' independent player than DD6, but I have 'trained' DD so that she is willing to play independently more now. Every weekend (I work fulltime) we have 'quiet time' for a couple of hours from about midday-2pm if we are at home. Usually we're out in the morning, so I start priming them both when we're on our way home by saying "when we get home, everyone is having quiet time, including mummy and daddy". WHen we get home, DS often has a nap / rest, though sometimes its only for 15-30minutes. DD is expected to go and occupy herself in a quiet activity and when DS gets up he will either play by himself or go and play with his sister. DH usually naps and I read or do some work. If they come over to me during that time I firmly but gently remind them it's quiet time and they need to figure problems out themselves and find something for themselves to do. After the same routine for a long time (we've been doing this for about a year now) they pretty much know the drill. I will admit I feel a bit 'mean' for enforcing 'quiet time' sometimes when I know they want to hang out with me, but in the long run, I do really appreciate it, and it makes me more patient during the day to have that down time. I think consistency, routine and firmness is the key. In your case - perhaps pick a time during the day, every day when you have 'independent play' time. They should get used to it and start to build up the skill from there.

#10 jo-v

Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:08 PM

My eldest is the same, wants me involved in all his games. Sometimes I can get away with the odd direction like sending him on different ninja missions lol. At 4.5 he's getting better. DD 2 will happily play by herself for ages.

Me and my younger brother were the same so think there's def a link with older child/younger child.

#11 CallMeFeral

Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:11 PM

A friend of mine did the timer thing. Short bursts - 5 mins, 10, all the way up to 45.

My kids seem to entertain themselves. I think if you sit on EB for long enough and don't respond to attention requests, they eventually find you boring and go do something else Tounge1.gif

#12 liveworkplay

Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:13 PM

QUOTE
My kids seem to entertain themselves. I think if you sit on EB for long enough and don't respond to attention requests, they eventually find you boring and go do something else Tounge1.gif


laughing2.gif

#13 steppy

Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:15 PM

If I had a child that did this I'd probably get her involved in my housework. Might as well be learning something useful. If she doesn't like that, she'll probably go and play.

#14 Guest_Dinah_Harris_*

Posted 23 January 2013 - 12:24 PM

Thanks for all your replies.  I cracked it today because all morning she was literally hanging off me whinging for more than our hour.  Often I feel bad about asking her to go and play, because I feel guilty that my job as a mother is to play with her.
But then I figured I have other jobs to do as well.  
Here's a list of activities I've sent up her up with in the past:
* Painting/drawing
* Trains
* Cars
* Lego
* Little People
* Dolls
* Dollhouse
* Building blocks
* Kitchen
* Playing with water
* Cash register/supermarket
* Doctors
* Riding her bike
* Jigsaw puzzles
* Writing on the chalk board

You know, there has to be a couple of things in there she genuinely enjoys, but 5 minutes later is boooo-rrrrred.  I think I've actually enabled her a little though, so as of today I've had enough.
Rawr, we have a lovely, gentle, patient dog who will play for hours on end.  DD1 ignores her completely.  She also had a pet plant for a while that she let die!
I guess I was wondering if I was being mean/unfair/unreasonable to expect her to play independently.   Now I'm not feeling so bad.   ohmy.gif

#15 BlueUnicorn

Posted 23 January 2013 - 01:07 PM

My kids play by themselves often but I find if they are clingy or following me around I need to ignore them for a while.  If they aren't getting my attention they usually go off and play.  Sometimes I might suggest something, ie why don't you take barbies on a pic nic to the spare room, you could make a card for nan.
We also have quiet time from about 11-1 daily.  It's a time for my youngest two to sleep and my oldest to amuse herself, at least half hour is spent quietly in her room relaxing.  Sometimes I will put a movie on for her, but mostly she plays dolls or does craft/ art.
I would deffinately do the timer thing to try and break her habit of following you around / getting attention.  My eldest gets into this pattern sometimes and needs help to stay focused Ie, if you play in here quietly for a while I will take you to the park after lunch, don't come out, I will get you when it's time.  If she doesn't want to play I say that's okay, you can do what ever you want in your room but I will get you when it's time to come out.    She will always play except when she occasionally falls asleep!
Don't feel guilty, kids need time alone to explore and develop their imaginations.  You are doing her a service by teaching and enforcing her play time.  Maybe you are doing too much as far as activities go and you daughter expects to be entertained?  Just a thought, it may not be the case.
Good luck.


#16 miss*k

Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:32 PM

LOL My 3.5 year old is EXACTLY the same. I put it down to her being an only child, even when she was a little toddler she always wanted to involve me. At certain times of the day she is awesome at it, first thing in the morning, and in the evening. She's just such a social little creature lol. Can be VERY draining, but I encourgage it by asking her to try playing for 5 mins while I do something and tell her what she can do. she always love role playing activities (playing mothers and babies), and she likes that extra person to play a part in it. I don't mind so much some days, but sometimes 8 hours of it can be quite draining. Thank god she is in daycare 3 days a week.

#17 #tootired

Posted 23 January 2013 - 03:43 PM

I have a 4yo that does this too. I think it just the individual personality of the kid. Mine most happy when "working." Sweeping, hanging washing, gardening etc..unfortunately all these things require me to be "working too."

I just count day the days until he starts school and someone else will have to keep him occupied for every waking minute.

My DS3 hasn't watched any more than 3 seconds of TV in his life, yet his brother DS2, could sit there all day if you let him!

#18 Quay11

Posted 23 January 2013 - 05:27 PM

My DD's psychologist told us that it was often a 'girl' thing - social play - as opposed to boys playing with a 'thing'.

Drives me nuts too. My girl needs constant validation and attention, my boy is fine left alone to play (was nicknamed by one of his Granny's as 'the silent destroyer'). I've had to make it a defined thing for my daughter 'I am asking you to play ON YOUR OWN while I try and get your little brother down for a nap'. We've been practising and it seems to help.



#19 Guest_Dinah_Harris_*

Posted 23 January 2013 - 07:08 PM

Well, I should say that this afternoon, after she declined to have a sleep (usually she still has an hour), and I was faced withe the prospect of five hours of bored 4 year old girl, and she had been such a terror all morning, that I told her she was to entertain herself because mummy had things to do.

You know what?  She did it.  She filled a basket with some things and pretended to be a mummy to her stuffed elephant, did some painting and drawing and then did some water play in the front yard.  She didn't whinge about the TV or being booooorrrrreeeddd once!  The little devil CAN do it - but it must be easier to be lazy.

Thanks so much for all your replies.  Sometimes I think I just need permission to be the boss - that sounds so strange - because I'm constantly worried that I'm a bad mother.  So making her play by herself made me worry about causing her psychological harm.   rolleyes.gif

Thank goodness kindy starts next week, which will make everyone's life easier.  In the meantime - I know that she can play alone and with her sister and be perfectly fine.  Thanks again!




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users

 

Special Ticket Offer, Save $8!

The Essential Baby & Toddler Show is back this April! Save $8 off the door price for a limited time only!

Finding baby name inspiration in unusual places

Sometimes the greatest baby name ideas come from the most unexpected places, as these EB members show.

The case for inducing at 37 weeks

While we often think of pregnancy as a 40 week affair, experts agree that 37 weeks is actually “full term". So is there an argument for inducing all births at 37 weeks?

Does controlled crying really work?

Controlled-crying techniques may help some babies sleep through the night, but for many exhausted new parents, it's just a recipe for more tears all round.

How I taught my infant to use a toilet

As people become more aware of these benefits, I hope more parents will practice this method, so we can cut down on nappies and improve baby bonding.

'I thought it was impossible': Emily Symons pregnant at 45

Aussie actress Emily Symons has announced she is pregnant with her first baby.

Shallow water blackout kills fit, healthy dad

A little girl will grow up without her father after the fit and healthy 34-year-old passed away while doing something he had practised his whole life.

Afternoon naps may be bad for toddlers' sleep

You could be doing yourself a disservice by encouraging your toddler to have an afternoon nap, according to new research.

Best gifts for newborns, new mums and christenings

We've compiled a guide to some of the most popular presents for newborns and new mums, and for christenings and naming days.

Jaime King to be a mum again

Actress Jaime King is pregnant with her second child, giving 16-month-old James a sibling.

Nannies should receive government funding

The Abbott government should extend funding to nannies, and direct childcare payments to low and middle income families, a landmark study on childcare has found. 

Common skin irritations in newborns (and how to treat them)

As many as one in two newborn babies suffer from skin irritations in their first few weeks. So what are the most common rashes and irritations to look out for?

10 wall decals for the nursery or playroom

Wall decals are the answer to creating a beautiful nursery or children's space without lifting a paint brush, a spirit level or even a hammer.

Preschooler walks 2.4km home alone

Three-year-old Cain Trainor headed off home after his first day at a new preschool without telling anyone.

Video: Why mums get nothing done

In spite of being in an almost constant state of motion while looking after the kids and trying to keep things together at home, it can seem as though parents have managed to get nothing on the to-do list done by the end of the day.

The middle name game

The middle name is no longer an afterthought, and parents' inspiration comes from many places.

Have a baby or your money back - but there's a catch

A new IVF scheme offers couples the chance to fall pregnant and give birth - or get their money back. But there's more to it than you might think.

A rare glimpse inside the womb

A baby born still inside the amniotic sac gave US doctors a rare glimpse at life inside the womb.

Battered mum forced to write to her attacker ex in jail

Three years ago Jason Hughes viciously attacked his ex-partner. Now she has to write to him three times a year.

Woman pleads not guilty to ultrasound scam

A West Australian woman will fight allegations that she scammed expectant mums by selling them fake ultrasound pictures of babies.

Download now: Essential Kids Activity Finder app

Got bored kids? Quickly find the best activities for kids wherever you are in Australia with the Essential Kids app.

 
Advertisement
 
Advertisement
 
 
 

What's hot on EB

Brain damaged mum receives compensation

A Sydney mother who suffered brain damage when she was hit by a car while pushing her newborn baby in a pram has reached a confidential out-of-court settlement with the driver's insurance company.

Indigenous midwives break down the barriers

A culturally sensitive midwifery service has gained the trust and respect of Aboriginal women.

The Katering Show's next big delivery

Most mums-to-be plan to take things easy and perhaps have a little break from work as the birth of their baby draws near. Not Kate McCartney.

53 creative pregnancy announcements

Announcing that you're expecting can be a time to express your creativity, sense of humour and imagination. Check out how other parents and parents-to-be have broken the news to friends and family.

Why I have mixed feelings about Cindy Crawford's leaked photo

Last week an un-retouched photo of model Cindy Crawford surfaced, showing the 48-year-old mother-of -two posing in underwear.

How to create a Peppa Pig pancake

Thought your toddler could not love pancakes any more than they already do? How about if the breakfast treat came in the shape of every two-year-old's favourite cartoon character?

'It's a little life, not a little loss': pregnancy after miscarriage

I thought I was never going to be able to have a successful pregnancy. I decided that I wasn't going to form an emotional attachment with this baby.

Bonds Baby Search 2015: what you need to know

February 18 marks the start of one of the most prolific annual baby competitions in Australia: the Bonds Baby Search. And this year is going to be more special than ever.

Who will manage your Facebook account when you're gone?

This is not something that people like to talk about, but Facebook has announced that it will grant users more control over what happens to their pages after they die.

Struggling mum of four wins $188 million

Mother of four Marie Holmes was financially struggling after quitting her jobs at Walmart and McDonald's in order to care for her children.

Pregnant obese women a 'relatively new problem', coroner hears

A first-time mother whose daughter died hours after her frightening birth insists she was never told of the risks of being obese and pregnant.

'I'm angry as hell': the story behind mum's passionate vaccination plea

She has labelled parents who do not vaccinate their children "misinformed imbeciles" - and for that, she makes no apologies.

IKEA hacks for the nursery and kids' rooms

Are you one of those that know the whole IKEA catalogue by heart? Love their stuff but want to personalise it? Here's some inspiration to help you realise the potential of IKEA furniture and fittings.

8 different kinds of tantrums

I never thought I’d say this, but for a brief moment last week, Kim Kardashian and I had something in common: both our kids had public tantrums.

Polycystic ovary syndrome: symptoms, treatment and your fertility

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is the most common female hormonal condition, affecting roughly one in 12 Australian women.

What's the best position for giving birth?

If doing it on your back is out, what's the best position for labour and birth?

Wife forgives snake catcher husband for car surprise

With Valentine's Day coming up, Nat Gilbert could be forgiven for thinking her husband might be planning a surprise for her.

Kids who meet milestones at their own pace

We usually only hear the success stories: tales of the two-year-old who’s talking, running and completely toilet trained. But other stories need to be told too.

Ruby shines as Bonds Baby

Sarah Kiss has a word of advice for proud mums and dads who are keen to enter their babies in this year's Bonds Baby Search Competition - just have fun.

Why dads should go to sleep school

If your family needs to go to sleep school, go with them. You are part of that family and you are part of the solution.

36 baby names inspired by food and drinks

A French court may have ruled out Nutella as a baby name, but that doesn't have to stop you from taking inspiration from the supermarket (or bottle shop). See what parents in the US have chosen for their delicious little ones.

Clever breastfeeding products

Check out this range of products designed to help make your breastfeeding journey more enjoyable, manageable and convenient.

 

Win a KitchenAid Mixer

Let's celebrate 300,000 fans on Facebook

To celebrate, and to thank our amazing fans, we?re giving away a KitchenAid Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer.

 
Advertisement
 
 
Essential Baby and Essential Kids is the place to find parenting information and parenting support relating to conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids, maternity, family budgeting, family travel, nutrition and wellbeing, family entertainment, kids entertainment, tips for the family home, child-friendly recipes and parenting. Try our pregnancy due date calculator to determine your due date, or our ovulation calculator to predict ovulation and your fertile period. Our pregnancy week by week guide shows your baby's stages of development. Access our very active mum's discussion groups in the Essential Baby forums or the Essential Kids forums to talk to mums about conception, pregnancy, birth, babies, toddlers, kids and parenting lifestyle. Essential Baby also offers a baby names database of more than 22,000 baby names, popular baby names, boys' names, girls' names and baby names advice in our baby names forum. Essential Kids features a range of free printable worksheets for kids from preschool years through to primary school years. For the latest baby clothes, maternity clothes, maternity accessories, toddler products, kids toys and kids clothing, breastfeeding and other parenting resources, check out Essential Baby and Essential Kids.