Won't play alone

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harmonybear's picture
Joined: 06/06/07
Posts: 639
Won't play alone

OK, I'm hoping you ladies will be able to help me, or at least sympathize. A will not play by herself. I try to invest time with her in the mornings in the hope that she'll have enough Mama attention and then be able to play by herself later in the day, but it's not working. Aside from very rare occasions, she wants me to do everything with her.

She won't paint or color unless I'm sitting next to her, and what coloring really means to her is asking me to write her name or draw "Mama holding A". When she plays with play dough, she wants me to make snowmen for her. She only wants to put together the puzzles that are too hard for her to do alone. She won't sing without an audience. She wants to play doctor, but she only wants me to be her patient. Suggestions that she listen to her baby doll's heart are met with, "No. Listen to Mama's heart." She won't play on the piano by herself. She won't toss balls into a basket without me right there. Etc. Etc. Etc.

I'm about to go crazy. The only thing I can do to get a break is turn on the TV. I really need for her to learn to play on her own, even if it's just for 10-15 minute intervals. Any suggestions? Or is this completely normal for a two-year-old?

April777's picture
Joined: 10/01/08
Posts: 579

I may be incorrect here, but my assumption has always been that this is normal behavior for an only child with a stay at home Mom. Add in there an attachment parenting lifestyle and it seems right on target. I think you really have to work hard to establish independence in that situation because it's not something that will come naturally to her. Or at least in our situation, I have found this to be the case. Zoey never learned independence because she never had to, until she was about 14 months old.

Around that time I started working full time on my Etsy endeavor, and I had no choice but to "ignore" her because if I didn't, we couldn't pay our bills. It took time and patience but eventually she got it. But even then we've never really been that independent from each other. I crochet on the floor while she plays with toys right beside me. She rarely goes off on her own to do something, and the moment I get up she does as well. When was the last time you went to the bathroom alone? I can't even remember when I did. Smile But at least she will play with something on her own, even if I'm sitting right there.

For me, it took a lot of, "No, mommy's busy right now." It was met with upset feelings and tantrums. But repeating it over and over again eventually broke her of the need to play with me 24/7. I also find a lot of success with encouraging her to bring an activity with her while I do chores. If I need to fold laundry I tell her what I need to do, and tell her to pick some toys to bring along to the dining room so she can play while I fold the laundry. I'm actually always doing this. When I cook dinner she sometimes gets upset if DH isn't home yet, so I set up the laptop on the step stool and encourage her to sit with a stuffed animal and watch counting videos or what have you. I am constantly encouraging the independence, and praising her when she does it.

It took me a few months to get where I am. And even now, my mother thinks I devote too much time to her and not enough to myself. So maybe I don't have it right just yet. Smile

isisgoddess_1's picture
Joined: 03/29/08
Posts: 1220

I am not a SAHM but I do use attachment parenting. Josh is my child that could not play by himself. He is finally able to and he is now three. It took a bit to get him to play on his own. Sofia on the other had never had an issue playing on her own.

kristycoulter1's picture
Joined: 05/20/08
Posts: 625

We're in an opposite lifestyle situation (2 working parents) but the end result is the same. Because she is away from us all day, she requires every minute of our attention at home. But at that point we are both there and have the luxuary of tag-teaming. Every once and awhile she'll ask to go into her playroom and she'll spend a few minutes playing with dolls or whatever... but more often than not she's calling one of us to come in there with her.

Lina5781's picture
Joined: 10/11/07
Posts: 68

With three, at least one wants/needs me at any given moment. DH and I work differing shifts, so when I'm home with the kiddos it's just me vs them.

Keep suggesting she do different things than you are, next to you when you need to be doing something else, as April was suggesting. Also get her to help. My girls LOVE it when they can help. Like when putting away groceries I'll ask them to put the toilet paper in the bathroom and then we have a big old clap and cheer when they do, even if they put it in the sink, lol.

Also I constantly talk with them. If I'm making dinner and they are watching a math show or something, we talk about it. I can listen to their silliness and respond while getting something accomplished.

"Oh what's that Mia? Pirate Pythagoras has Scout! OH NO! well yes, Leap and Lilly will have to get him. What's that Ana? Oh yes a BLUE fish... I see 6! good for you counting Ana! Oh? you will be a scuba diver when you get bigger Elly? That's right. Maybe you could see blue fish too." (Leap Frog show with counting and pirates)

The talking thing may work for me more because of the 2 verbal 3 year olds. Ana isn't talking that much, or at least where you can understand exactly what she's saying. She does not like being left out of what her sisters are doing though.

Other than that, bright curious kids have a need to be constantly engaged. Tiring for us, but not a bad thing at all.

April777's picture
Joined: 10/01/08
Posts: 579

"Lina5781" wrote:

Other than that, bright curious kids have a need to be constantly engaged. Tiring for us, but not a bad thing at all.

Yes, yes. This is so true.

Joined: 11/14/08
Posts: 49

I'm late on this but yeah it's pretty normal for kids to want to constantly engaged I'm thinking.

Cam will play by himself, but not often. Sometimes he'll run his cars for 10 minutes by himself and I think it helps that when DH plays cars with him DH does a whole narrative, so when Cam's playing by himself he just reenacts that same scene over and over and over. At this age they are just learning to be creative and imaginative rather than needing constant stimuli to keep them occupied.

But still all I hear all day long is "Mommy! Play!!!!!" repeated ad nauseum. We have a small fenced in back yard so sometimes as a treat (since he loves outside so much) I'll tell him he can go outside while I fold laundry just inside the door and even with being allowed OUTSIDE as a treat he doesn't want to go without me to play with him. He'll throw a fit and come back inside.

I'm just waiting for his new playmate (DD, lol) to grow up a little and hoping it will end up with more cooperative playing and less fighting so that I can finally have time to get stuff done again. Wink