We aren't our children's playmates and entertainment... - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 12:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Can someone please help me to fully understand the concept of not being our children's playmate and entertainer. I understand that we need to model the archetepal (?) movements of daily chores, quietness, peacefulness, etc... But to what extent. Thanks for your comments.

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#2 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 12:52 AM
 
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My daughter has a non-playmate orientation with her two children, 7 and 3 1/2. It doesn't mean that she never plays with them, but when she does it is usually in a fairly specific way. Finger-rhymes, reading a book, carrying out a household task together (today my grandson was helping her with laundry).

She feels that children play better if their play is not adult directed or guided. Her role is to provide a safe space, to figure out the framework and the rules (we take turns on the sleds), to provide the right sort of toys and also to observe what is going on to try to spot problems.

She runs a small home daycare, and puts a lot of energy into encouraging the children to play with each other in a healthy way. It mostly works pretty well. When the little girl who stays for her afternoon nap got up, she also started helping with the laundry. My dd and I were in the other room, cleaning up the nap area. DD went into the kitchen where the two children were watching the washing machine wash (as good as TV) and her son gave her a dirty look. He was explaining to his little friend about how the washer and dryer work and he didn't want any silly grown up interfering with his exposition on the topic.
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#3 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 01:39 PM
 
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She feels that children play better if their play is not adult directed or guided. Her role is to provide a safe space, to figure out the framework and the rules (we take turns on the sleds), to provide the right sort of toys and also to observe what is going on to try to spot problems.
How does she handle it when her daughter (you said daughter, right?) specifically asks her to play with her? I have 2 boys who play together *very* well (side note: I'm so pleased with the direction their imaginative play has gone since we stopped letting them watch TV regularly!), but I still sometimes get "Mom, will you play <whatever> with us?". It would have never even occurred to me to tell them no (well unless there are other things I must be doing), so I'm curious what she does.
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#4 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 03:00 PM
 
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Well, she has established herself as a non-playmate from birth, except under special circumstances, so the children only ask her to join them when it is something unusual or she volunteers.

For example, my gd borrowed candyland (the game) from my library. My daughter was pleased that gd was learning about board games, but not happy with the sugary theme. As an alternative she suggested that they make up their own game. She drew out a board, gd colored in the squares, they both added pictures and shortcuts and stuff. Then they used a paperplate to make a spinner and gd colored it. After all that they played the game!

The kids hang out near their mom and talk to her while she works. Sometimes they will be working on a project: knitting or coloring, or painting.

Grandparents are fair game as playmates, however! My daughter does discourage me from getting involved in make believe games--they work better between children--but I do go sledding with them, play board games, build stuff with blocks, zoom cars back and forth with my grandson.

There are two core principles I think. One is that parents should be clear that their work of running the house is important and not to be constantly interrupted by demands for entertainment from children (can be interrupted by things like potty visits, of course) and the other is that children do need to learn how to direct their own interests, which they won't if they are constantly getting input from adults.

Hard to change the pattern if the children do think of their parents as entertainment, of course.
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#5 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 03:09 PM
 
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I absolutely agree with the above. My boys are incredibly self entertaining and creative. I am so pleased with the level of their independence and self confidence. I was actually in awe of a project my 4 y.o. created yesterday while I was cleaning in prep. for the inlaws....it was such an incredibly detailed and well constructed (from the recycling tub materials) flying (and submersible) Batmobile...

We do have several friends who play constantly with their kids (same ages) and the children are dependent upon the parents to direct and continue their play. On their own, the kids tend to vye (sp?) for attention.

Our neighbor (same age) has the same philos as us and it's a delight to have her come over and to watch them all create and play.
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#6 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 03:17 PM
 
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See, I guess I just don't understand. I'm fairly new to Waldorf, so maybe that's it. My kids play on their own a *lot*. They invent all sorts of games, and construct all sorts of things with their Legos, or blocks, or paper, or... So I don't feel that we've stunted their creativity at all. But sometimes they do ask one of us to play with them. I see it more as "mom/dad, I want you to interact with you socially" rather than "I want you to entertain me". I realize they can interact with us socially in our home tasks, and they do (a *lot*), but I guess to me it just seems natural that they would want that on their "turf" sometimes, too? Now that I think of it more, it almost seems to be more of them wanting to show us what they've come up with than anything, although they do want me to participate along with them at these times.

I guess it doesn't matter because I'm comfortable with how I'm raising my children in this respect, I was just curious because I've never really heard of this specific philosophy.
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#7 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 03:19 PM
 
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But, it sounds like you're not directing their activity or initiating their projects for them. For ME, that's a big factor.
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#8 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 03:21 PM
 
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Well, she has established herself as a non-playmate from birth, except under special circumstances, so the children only ask her to join them when it is something unusual or she volunteers.

There are two core principles I think. One is that parents should be clear that their work of running the house is important and not to be constantly interrupted by demands for entertainment from children (can be interrupted by things like potty visits, of course) and the other is that children do need to learn how to direct their own interests, which they won't if they are constantly getting input from adults..
This is exactly how things work in my house. I don't play with my kids and they don't expect me to. I may help them set things up; show them how to make a marble chute with the blocks or whatever. And of course I read to them all the time and they love to help me with cooking, etc. But I don't play games with them or join in their play. Partly because, as Deborah said, I have other work to do, but also because playing with them bores me out of my mind. I've been that age, I've done that play, and now it's their turn. I just don't see it as my role. Play is their role.
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#9 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 03:25 PM
 
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But, it sounds like you're not directing their activity or initiating their projects for them. For ME, that's a big factor.
That's true, I'm not. About the only thing I even somewhat direct is I will offer up the opportunity to do something like painting. And that's because that's an activity I have to specifically prep the kitchen for (remove/cover tablecloth, etc.), so it's not an activity that's immediately available to them whenever they want it. And even then it's not "let's paint now, boys", it's more, "hey guys, would you like to paint?" (which is usually met with a resounding "YES!"). Other than that, I might offer an activity that I think they haven't thought about, especially if they seem to be in a creativity slump (rare, but it happens), but I don't direct a lot of stuff (and it never really occurred to me to).

I guess I did find myself directing more before I cut out TV, because I was combating the "we wanna watch TV and are too brain-numbed to figure out anything else to do" syndrome. I'm so glad to be out of that now.
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#10 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 03:26 PM
 
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This is a very interesting concept to me, but we only got as far as the parent&me class in Waldorf. Where could I get more information on this subject?

Mom "D" to DD1 "Z" (14) and DD2 "I" (11) DH "M"

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#11 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 03:27 PM
 
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: I totally agree w/that.

In fact : I'm going to let them paint the bathroom today. So, I *do* have to prep that one. BUt, I am going to step back once they have their little paint brushes and paints and just "let it be."
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#12 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 03:31 PM
 
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: I totally agree w/that.

In fact : I'm going to let them paint the bathroom today. So, I *do* have to prep that one. BUt, I am going to step back once they have their little paint brushes and paints and just "let it be."
That is such a great idea! Our whole house needs to be painted (still all white walls from when we moved in in 1998 : ). We've been having discussions about how they want to paint their room...we should totally do this!
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#13 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 04:11 PM
 
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I probably shouldn't get involved in this thread...but...I was wondering why it is seen as problematic to allow children to choose or "direct" their own play. I have been reading up on Steiner's ideas, and am currently getting into Children at Play by Heidi Britz-Crecelius, and it seems my kids are sort of naturally developing some pretty intense imaginations, but I just can't wrap my brain around this avoidance of letting myself stop and play with them.
My kids are almost 2 and almost 4 and they rarely ask me to play . They create things and develop drama beautifully. I have never intended to avoid being my child's playmate. In fact, there are times when I really enjoy being involved. When I think back on my childhood, some of my fondest memories involve activities with my mom or dad.
So, what is the damage being done with my sitting at their level and enjoying time with them?? (I am actually asking opinions here ).
Thanks!

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#14 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 04:15 PM
 
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I probably shouldn't get involved in this thread...but...I was wondering why it is seen as problematic to allow children to choose or "direct" their own play.
Well, I think everyone but me was saying that they *should* choose and direct their own play. And even I'm not saying that they shouldn't, but was questioning not participating in their play at all (specifically, when they ask me to, which isn't terribly often).

Edited to correct typo
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#15 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 04:18 PM
 
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What if you have only one child?
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#16 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 04:19 PM
 
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Wow. What a fascinating thread. I have no inclination to play with my daughter, really, and I often feel guilty about it. This is really interesting.
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#17 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 04:21 PM
 
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Well, I think everyone but me was saying that they *should* choose and direct their own play. And even I'm not saying that they shouldn't, but was questioning not participating in their play at all (specifically, when they ask me to, which isn't terribly often).

Edited to correct typo
hmmm, i think i misunderstood.
can you relate to my wanting to enjoy time playing with them?

Darcy mama to Dillon, Marah and Leo, partner to Jeremy
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#18 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 04:29 PM
 
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Yes, I absolutely can. At the same time, I do want them to have the ability to play on their own (i.e., not follow me around the house every moment that I'm not playing with them because they can't create anything on their own). I think our house has a good balance of that...the kids play alone most of the time. By "alone" I mean they are creating and engaged in their own games. One or both parents is there, and they frequently check in with a brief "look what I made" or "we're pretending <blah, blah, blah>". But sometimes they ask me to participate, or watch what scenario they've come up with on their train tracks, or whatever, which I will do (but I don't drop everything and do it). And sometimes I sit down with them and paint, or draw, or read, or scrapbook, or whatever because I want to spend the time with them.

All just my opinion, and what works for me and my family, of course.
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#19 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 04:48 PM
 
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Yes, I absolutely can. At the same time, I do want them to have the ability to play on their own (i.e., not follow me around the house every moment that I'm not playing with them because they can't create anything on their own). I think our house has a good balance of that...the kids play alone most of the time. By "alone" I mean they are creating and engaged in their own games. One or both parents is there, and they frequently check in with a brief "look what I made" or "we're pretending <blah, blah, blah>". But sometimes they ask me to participate, or watch what scenario they've come up with on their train tracks, or whatever, which I will do (but I don't drop everything and do it). And sometimes I sit down with them and paint, or draw, or read, or scrapbook, or whatever because I want to spend the time with them.

All just my opinion, and what works for me and my family, of course.
This sounds like a perfect balance. Especially if it works for your family.

The main thing to avoid is children who expect their parent(s) to be totally on call for their amusement: sort of like live videos:
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#20 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 05:11 PM
 
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So, what is the damage being done with my sitting at their level and enjoying time with them?? (I am actually asking opinions here ).Thanks!
I don't think there is any damage done by this if you want to do it and if they don't require your presence every time they sit down to play.

FTR, I don't have this "hands-off" attitude toward play with my kids as a result of Waldorf philosophy (although I did go to a WS for years). It's just my particular style. If vrooming cars around and creating elaborate wooden block towers interested me, I'd be doing it with the boys. But it doesn't.
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#21 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 05:35 PM
 
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Ok, so I think the idea is "you're not your child(ren)'s personal entertainer", not necessarily "you shouldn't ever entertain your children, even if you want to".

That makes sense.
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#22 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 05:57 PM
 
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What if you have only one child?
This is my question as well. I was almost an only child (much older siblings who were already out of the house when I was small), and I remember being very lonely and tired of playing solitary games. I yearned for my mom to sit and play a board or card game with me.

My son does direct much of his own craft and play time, but when he wants to play Cariboo, or asks my help to play grocery shopping (he wants to be the shopper sometimes and the checker other times), I'm there to play with him whenever I can.

--Olive
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#23 of 55 Old 02-14-2007, 05:59 PM
 
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I don't know but my 4 y.o. is alone during the school days & he's totally independent. BUt, then he plays w/brother in the eve.
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#24 of 55 Old 02-15-2007, 01:00 AM
 
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I am blessed with twin boys who play wonderful, imaginative games with each other and rarely ask me to participate, for which I'm very thankful! I love to spend time with them, but it has to be doing something like reading, playing cards, doing a craft, playing store, etc. - I just can't get my mind into totally freeform "pretend mode". And if I try, I never do it right anyway , according to them.
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#25 of 55 Old 02-15-2007, 07:57 PM
 
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What if you have only one child?
I was an only child until I was 13. For the most part, I played alone, and was very imaginative in my play. I had my 2 best friends (my dog and the tree in the front yard ) and I would do alot of stuff alone. I did occasionally want to play a board game, and I would ask my mom, and we'd usually play it. She also involved me in the garden, cooking dinner, and washing dishes. I would think it would be okay to play with your child if they ask you, and then just try to play a secondary part in the play, letting them lead.

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#26 of 55 Old 02-17-2007, 03:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all of the wonderful comments. I am just ecstatic about what Waldorf is doing for my family and home. After reading many posts, talking with DDs teacher, and other parents, I made a schedule of our day for everyday. My computer time is only when DD sleeps now, and I engage in meaningful work the rest of the day. I was so surprised by how much that can involve DD. We are interacting during lunch, at nap, for bedtime, when I knit, as I clean. I was even able to put in an hour just for time with her for drawing, stories, singing, and dancing. I feel like a better wife and mom now. As a Christian SAHM, I feel like I have a job now that I am very satisfied with.

If DD asks me to play, I think I will try to do an activity with her that she otherwise couldn't do alone, or share a story, or sing and dance. That is positive interaction as well. And, maybe sometimes, I won't be able to resist some makebelieve.

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#27 of 55 Old 02-18-2007, 01:30 AM
 
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Just want to respectfully suggest that there is no one formula that works for all children, Waldorf or no. My children are 5 and 10 and raised in Waldorf. I've learned the hard way that while it is so very important for you to consider the wisdom of "methods" you like, you must tune into your own wisdom guided by your own personal intuition about what is right for you and yours. I'm solo and busy with tasks round the clock. They beg me to play. When I sit and play, I'm totally "off" in what it means to play what they are playing ofcourse, so they tell me how to play. We all wish I could play with them more even though I'm "off". It's funny for all of us. I don't direct the play unless I'm giving a specific lesson on cutting strings of something or introducing some new concept. I do direct in that I limit certain things like legos, which my oldest is overly focused on. I do what works for us. I didn't always tune into my own wisdom. I borrowed from Waldorf when I didn't have confidence in my own intuition and wisdom and that was a mistake. Waldorf carries a great deal of wisdom, but it isn't greater than my own for my children and I. Same goes for you and yours.
Very important lesson that many great teachers teach, Dr. Steiner especially!
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#28 of 55 Old 02-18-2007, 02:14 AM
 
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I guess I just want to know when one should expect a wee one to play on there own...Jack was an EXTREMELY high needs baby and is still a very demanding toddler...he is now able to play on his own for about 25-30 min at a time and really demands my time otherwise (plays for 20 min needs me for 30 min plays for 30 min needs me for 45 min)...

when can I expect him (he is 22 months and an only child) to play on his own...and for how long???
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#29 of 55 Old 02-18-2007, 02:37 AM
 
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wow, what a fascinating thread! I am in the same boat as a PP who mentioned recently becoming tv-free. i have an almost 4yo and an 18mo. my older one has a hard time playing on his own and is constantly asking me to play with him. I never looked at it this way before (as their "on call entertainer") but it's true. I never really abused the tv, but I just finally became tired of the fight and his behavior so we don't do tv at all unless it's a special family movie night. This has been fairly recent so i am hoping that as he detoxes he will find it easier to play by himself and as ds2 is getting older, be able to play with him.
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#30 of 55 Old 03-22-2007, 08:38 PM
 
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when can I expect him (he is 22 months and an only child) to play on his own...and for how long???
When he is ready he will play on his own, for however long he wants. I don't think you can make your child play on thier own. I think the concept is- don't lead your child in play, don't entertain your child. Just go about your life.

I have an only child-almost 5yrs, and she is great at playing on her own, but she still needs time with me, naturally. That time can be simply sitting in my lap while I read my book or am at the computer, or helping me with house work, or gardening, or pet care. We take walks together, and fix meals together. She will drift in and out of my space as she needs to.

I do find myself painting or drawing occasionaly with dd. I like to paint and draw, and I don't direct dd. I also some times feel the need to build a block tower, not always when the blocks are out and being played with . I think this is called parrelle (sp?) play.

I will play a board game or card game with her, maybe once a week.

I have daycare children, some I have had for 2yrs and they still seem to think I will entertain them and lead them in play . The brothers were unable to play by themselves when they first came. They still cannot play on thier own with out my presence near-by. I have to be in view. They are not clingy or needy, they just want to be watched and guided(which I don't do).
I have a hard time with all the 'look at me', and 'watch me!' they do.
It is not that I don't want to, it is just I would rather watch them play unselfconsciously and I don't want to watch them show off for me over and over and over. I find it boring and I have other stuff to do. I tell them I will watch once and then go about my business.

I have a new little guy who's mommy entertains him 24/7. He is cute and I enjoy him, but it is hard being with a child who expects entertainment 24/7.
I honestly don't know how parents find the energy or time for that kind of parenting.


This was not a philosophy I picked up fom Waldorf-although we are exploring Waldorf for kindergarden- it just feels natural to be like this.
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