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Dumping, Not Playing

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

My 3-year-old has never been very good at playing by himself, but I also realize many kids this age are not. So I play with him.

 

A LOT.

 

We create environments in which we play farm, zoo, kitchen, construction site, etc. I am a kid at heart myself, so I have large reserves of imagination that I am trying to imprint on my own kids. I believe in the Waldorf-style of play, so many of his toys are open-ended, which is why I try to teach him about all his toys' possibilities. 

 

But when he is down in the play room by himself or with his 16-month-old brother, all he does is dump everything out of the baskets onto the floor. He pulls all the books off the shelves. In minutes everything is trashed. It's infuriating.

 

He's always been a dumper. But I hoped by this age he would actually be PLAYING with his toys. 

 

post #2 of 12
Any chance that he is getting overstimulated by all the toys/books/options? DS seemed to dump a TON up until we decluttered & organized his toys (several months back, he was probably around 19mos) and now he plays better. He still isn't a 'playing' kid -- he loves sweeping/vacuuming or anything that involves using mom & dad's stuff, plus reading, crafts, etc. but playing with toys just isn't his thing & he doesn't spend much time doing it, but at least now the only things he dumps are things like the box of lincoln logs so he can get to all the pieces. Maybe you could pare down the options and organize them in a way that it's not visually overwhelming?
post #3 of 12

I wonder if what you see as "dumping" is your DS trying to recreate some of the structured play that you engage in with him.  You say that you create environments, and I can imagine that his first step is, okay, get all this stuff out... and then, being three, he has trouble getting on to the next steps (build something, do something in or with it).  You might try playing simpler games with him and see if he carries that into his independent play.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is that dumping the toys on the floor *is* one of the possibilities.  It's a mess, but I bet it makes fantastic noises, and that the stuff slides around and falls in entertaining ways.  Paring down the options probably won't change his style, but may limit the chaos. 

 

One of the things that I occasionally trip on about open-ended toys is that I only show my kids the uses for their toys that I think of, and of which I approve.  I don't think of this as limiting, but DS has other opinions.  My rejection of non-demonstrated and approved types of play was leading DS to label the things that I do with his stuff as limits to be interestingly transgressed.  Because of this, I no longer demonstrate the use of toys.  Try handing stuff over and letting *him* figure out what it's for and what could be done with it.

post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 

"Any chance that he is getting overstimulated by all the toys/books/options?"

 

Animals, cars, kitchen, blocks, musical instruments, puzzles. I tend to think this isn't a ton of stuff, because I am extremely conscious of limiting their toys. But maybe it is. I'll experiment a bit. The only challenge here is that the 16-month-old LOVES toys & is very good about playing. So they are very different in this way.

 

"One of the things that I occasionally trip on about open-ended toys is that I only show my kids the uses for their toys that I think of, and of which I approve.  I don't think of this as limiting, but DS has other opinions.  My rejection of non-demonstrated and approved types of play was leading DS to label the things that I do with his stuff as limits to be interestingly transgressed.  Because of this, I no longer demonstrate the use of toys.  Try handing stuff over and letting *him* figure out what it's for and what could be done with it."

 

This is a very interesting suggestion. I appreciate this insight. I also did consider that he might be doing "something" as he dumps everything. But when I come down to ask what he is doing (most times in the most non-judgmental way although I admit I'm sure he's seen, other times, my agitation), his scowl implies he's grumpy about something. Maybe it's a response to the fact that this one time Mommy isn't playing with him, but I feel this response is unreasonable. 

 

Thanks for the input, mamas. 

post #5 of 12

I find that if i take out a handful of toys - or pieces of toys - and frame them in a certain way, DD will pick up on it and play by herself for a bit.  If I tell her to go play with her toys, she'll find the bin, take the lid off, dump it, and be completely confused and can't play.  She has no frame in which to do so.  I don't think of it as restricting her imagination by giving her the framework, but more just giving her a starting point and letting her run from there.

 

Usually her building blocks get mixed in with her tea set pieces, and her farm animals are mixed in with toy food, etc.  But if I take the tray and put food pieces on and say, "Hmm, I think your animals are hungry!" and pretend with her for a minute, she gets so excited and just goes from there.  Maybe if you just light the fire you'll be able to walk away after a few minutes and get some free time while he plays?

post #6 of 12

My DS was very much like this too. Bookshelves, drawers, toy boxes - everything! I figured to a degree it was developmental (still drove me nuts lol) and eventually it did slow down.

 

He is still prone to tossing or dumping though at almost 8! But, he is also very creative in what he uses in his imaginative play (like, will rustle through this box and that box and use them in combination). He knows at any time where something is stored, or what bits belong to what game/set, so figure it's all part of the way he operates.

 

I did find that limiting the amount of toys in a box or on offer did help to a degree and was less overwhelming when he was finding something to do.

post #7 of 12

DD dumps a lot, too.  Like a previous poster said too, for DD it is often with stuff where I think she doesn't quite know where to start.  For example, she will ask me for her Duplo box, and if I just give it to her, she will immediately dump it and look at me.  But if I take out the duplos, show her a couple of the people, start making a tower or whatever, she will jump right in and play too.  Of course, this usually happens when I'm eating lunch or making a phone call or something and it isn't really my first choice to drop everything and do Duplos, but whatever.

 

She also HATES when I go around the room and straighten up a little, even if she appears to be finished with whatever toy it is and has been for a while.  Usually I have to say something like, oh, let's make some more room for the markers and paper, your stuffed animals/books/Matchbox cars/basketballs/whatever are in the way.  Even then it can be difficult.  

 

Maybe she just likes to SEE all her toys.  wink1.gif

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Baby_Cakes View Post

I find that if i take out a handful of toys - or pieces of toys - and frame them in a certain way, DD will pick up on it and play by herself for a bit.  If I tell her to go play with her toys, she'll find the bin, take the lid off, dump it, and be completely confused and can't play.  She has no frame in which to do so.  I don't think of it as restricting her imagination by giving her the framework, but more just giving her a starting point and letting her run from there.

 

...  Maybe if you just light the fire you'll be able to walk away after a few minutes and get some free time while he plays?


This is how I think of it, too. He seems to need a little jumping off point to get going. Thanks for this input.

 

RE: Lighting the fire. I do this. It is, indeed, effective for a little while. Eventually it always ends in dumping though. But it's definitely worse when they go down there on their own.

post #9 of 12
I really liked the suggestions in the book simplicity parenting for simplifying the playroom. Even our bookshelf has less books on it now, I cycle them from a bin in the closet. I also cycle the toys. If nothing else, this gives us less to pick up when they go on a dumping spree!
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mopeggy View Post

I really liked the suggestions in the book simplicity parenting for simplifying the playroom. Even our bookshelf has less books on it now, I cycle them from a bin in the closet. I also cycle the toys. If nothing else, this gives us less to pick up when they go on a dumping spree!


I put a few things away. We are a bibliophile family, and books are everywhere in the house. I wouldn't even know where to begin to store those away. My mother-in-law hits the church used book sale, so every month she arrives with a new big box of books. Which is wonderful, don't get me wrong, but it makes trimming down difficult. (I also run a story-time in our community, so they are helpful in that capacity, too.)

 

I'll have to check out this book. I've never heard of that one.

post #11 of 12

My almost-3-year-old does a lot of dumping too.  She does extraordinary independent play though, so I don't fret.  I just insist that she help me pick up every so often. :)  If she refuses several containers of toys get put in the closet for a few days.  When they come back out she's happy to help clean up. :)

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rightkindofme View Post

My almost-3-year-old does a lot of dumping too.  She does extraordinary independent play though, so I don't fret.  I just insist that she help me pick up every so often. :)  If she refuses several containers of toys get put in the closet for a few days.  When they come back out she's happy to help clean up. :)



He is, actually, pretty good at helping me clean up. I instilled this very early on. He always helped clean up at least one thing, even if it was just putting a few blocks back in their basket. I dare say, some days I think he does so he CAN clean. But that thought demands a whole separate thread. rolleyes.gif

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