Encouraging Independent Play - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-17-2004, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DS is almost 28 months old and I'm beginning to wonder if I've done him a disservice by playing with him all the time. He just doesn't seem to know what to do on his own without me right beside him. Our second child is due in 5 weeks and I'm too huge and uncomfy to really get down on the floor and play like I usually do. He's very upset by the fact that Mommy can't chase him around the house or wrestle on the floor or crawl through the sofa cushion tunnels we make. I've been trying to encourage him to play independently for short time periods (10-15 minutes), but he always says, "No Mommy, you play too." I know it's going to be even harder once the baby arrives, and I don't want him to resent his new sibling for taking away his favorite playmate (me).

Any ideas on how I can encourage independent play, even for short periods of time? I'm truly worried about this.

~~Kristina~~ Mama to DS(10/30/01), DD1(VBAC 3/28/04) and DD2(HBAC 5/21/06)
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Old 02-17-2004, 02:52 PM
 
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I have worked really hard to help DC learn to play and I’d be happy to share what worked for us.

The biggest thing that helped DC play was having a regular time of the day where she was expected to play independently. For us this is in the first half of the day. We have breakfast together, read a book and then she plays by herself while I clean or do a project.

Another thing that works for DC is when I’m in the room with her or moving in and out of rooms doing stuff “around” her. I think this is the parent/child version of parallel play and it works well for us.

Aya will also play alone for quite a while if she has toys that suit her interests for that week. Along the toy angle, I usually rotate toys in and out of circulation, which helps her focus on them.

I’ve got to go but will continue to think.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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Old 02-17-2004, 05:08 PM
 
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well, my son 29 mos asks he dad to play , somtimes he'll want me.. he dooes ask me to sit down at the table when he is eating or palying with playdo,

i would keep his toys very neat and clean orginized. this helps alot with my guy. also since ive moved the bulk of his toys in his room (we have a ranch) that has seemed to really encourgae him to go in there and play. latley i have not had the tv on and that is great. he buzz's around all day with out even noticing its not on!


one thing too is when i was preggers he seemed to want me more and then right after baby came and now 4 mos later he is really into "his" own thing. he does paly with the dog alot. i have set him up with palying and then stepped out of the room. or i'll sit on the couch and read and tell him its ok u can play here mommy is right here reading.
maybe he senses that the baby's commin?

i also have an esil in the sunroom-where computer is so when im in here he can be too? i guess i set stuff up so while im doing somthing he can be doing somthing too???

hope this helps, it will all work out a few bumps but ity will

it will be so much nicer to have the baby out too i remember that also. i couldnt do anything i felt like a beached whale. just sitting therer all day on the couch i could barley get up to poddy!LOL
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Old 02-18-2004, 03:02 AM
 
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manomanoman! i have been struggling with this too. thinking that i've created the most demanding child in the universe by heeding his every desire to have my undivided attention. and my guy is only 17 months. i can't even imagine getting pregnant with just the thought of trying to bring another being's set of needs into our house. soooo, i am watching this post for ideas too.

my heart goes out to you.
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Old 02-18-2004, 06:23 AM
 
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Another idea of mine is that you read the Continuum Concept or talk to some mamas about this idea. I shifted from a child centered home to a family centered home when DC was about a year old. This helped quite a bit.

I second the idea of keeping the toys in a way that they are somewhat organized.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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Old 02-18-2004, 09:59 AM
 
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Oh, my! I hear ya!
I'm REALLY trying to get DD to play more independently. If we're home, she won't. Not even for 5 minutes. But, my DH is home all the time now, and he is constantly with her (playing with her or literally just watching her if she's playing by herself for a moment), not "doing things" and letting her be part of the family. It drives me crazy because lemme tell ya, when he finds a job, it isn't staying like that . . .it's not normal!

Interestingly, when I bring DD to work (taking care of nieces), she plays independently at my sister's house . . .I used to think that it was the toys they have, but when we buy similar things, they don't have the same effect. I think it's (a) that they are different toys and (b) that there are other kids around, which makes her get into the playing mood. Plus, she's used to being on her own more there because I have 2 other kids to take care of. So, I think once your baby is born, your DC will adjust. Maybe not immediately, but eventually!

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Old 02-18-2004, 11:10 AM
 
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just wanted to say you are thinking along the correct lines. My ds was the same age when my dd was born. she is now 4 mos and things are going beautifully.

here is the thing. be prepared to give him that undivided attention as much as you can the first month. For a month or so, i never did anything with him holding dd. i would set her down to put him up for a nap or help him with something. at night, i would hand her to dh to help him with bedtime or to bake something or do something just him and i. and dh would spend time with him too,without having the baby in his hands. i think its important to kinda slowly integrate the baby into his routine. i never asked him to hold her often... maybe one time and he said no, so i never asked again. When she was two months old, he finally asked to and i finally got a picture of the two of them together.

I kind of never pointed her out to him or talked about her to him. Then he would ask when we ran to the store just him and i..."where'd baby sister go?" and so it began. slowly i started pointing out how much she loves him and "oh she is talking to you" kind of thing.

I was very nonchalant about the whole thing and it worked so well... he even just pottytrained and i cant believe it.... if you have any concerns or questions i would be more than happy to talk. you can email me anytime!!
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Old 04-17-2004, 06:05 PM
 
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Bumping this up. I could use some more ideas on it.

Dd has never played independently for very long. If I am around, she wraps herself around my leg. If I dont' play with her, she cries.

In our situation, there are no other kids. Organiztaion does help.

I'm wondering about family centered vs. child centered. Identiy Crisis Mama, what are the differences?
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Old 04-17-2004, 07:50 PM
 
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For us the difference btw. “child centered” and “family centered” has to do with how we prioritize needs/wants. We prioritize needs/wants based the actual nature of the need/want and not on who has the need/want – okay, I make no sense…

What I mean is that attention goes to the person who has the greatest need/want. Often times that is the child but not always. Sometimes, DC needs/wants to play with me but I have a significantly greater need for doing something else.

This idea really helps me when it comes to socializing and household stuff. I have a strong need for adult conversation. As soon as * I * recognized my need as a valid (aka equally as important as DC’s needs), DC started to “allow” me some time with adult friends.

As far as household stuff, DC seems to understand that I “need” to get some of that stuff done. I did “train” her with the household stuff. We have a routine with cleaning. I wake up in the morning, make her breakfast and clean or have “me time” until I’m “finished my coffee”. I allow her to look into my coffee cup to gage when we can read a book together.

Another thing we do are “projects”. I’ll set up a project for DC and she usually can tell which I’m going to do with her and which ones I’m not.

Good luck. I admit that I haven’t thought about this stuff much in a while but you’ve got me thinking again.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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Old 04-17-2004, 07:55 PM
 
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Do you think I have enough "quotes" in that last post?

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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Old 04-17-2004, 09:19 PM
 
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ICM, I would like to "thank" you for all of that useful "information!" You offered me some "valuable" insights! :LOL

Teasing....

In all seriousness, that was very helpful to me. I am thinking that right now I am a bit unbalanced in weighing wants and needs because I've been putting her needs first at the expense of my own. I nkow we can find a balance.
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Old 04-18-2004, 06:58 AM
 
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When my DC was about 1-1.5 years, we had a hard time adjusting to the fact that her wants were not always her needs anymore. I was still in such infant – cater to everything – mode that I was not able to shift to the new wants that were definitely not needs.

I think this is a hard transition and one that lots of “AP” parents go through with toddlers. Good on you for recognizing it this early. You’ll be fine. Let me know if I can help.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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Old 05-25-2006, 01:18 AM
 
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Bumping this for more potential ideas. I would like to see her be more independent. Of course, when she's really engrossed, boy is she ever. I bought her a stroller ("car car!") and she rolls that bad boy around with no help from me. But sometimes when we're in the same room and she's just generally tooling about, and I think "I could knit!" and sit down to do so, she's allll over me. Ugh.
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Old 05-25-2006, 06:12 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama
Another thing that works for DC is when I’m in the room with her or moving in and out of rooms doing stuff “around” her. I think this is the parent/child version of parallel play and it works well for us.
This has worked well with my DD too, as long as what I'm doing keeps me moving, or occupied with something that seems like work. If I'm cleaning or something, she'll often entertain herself nearby, but I still can't sit down to read without her asking me to stop and do something with her.

Another thing that helped get her used to playing by herself was not always stopping what I was doing immediately whenever she asked me to do stuff with her. I'd often say, "Okay, as soon as I finish X" or "Okay, in just a few minutes" and then sometimes she'd get so interested in something that I could just keep working for a lot more than a few minutes.
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Old 05-25-2006, 08:54 AM
 
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Being busy yourself is so very helpful as the child with imitate the adult. That does not mean looking at a screen, however. It means being involved in meaningful work such as cleaning, baking, sewing, knitting, gardening, sketching, etc...

As another poster mentioned, keeping the house picked up and neat helps a lot as well.

Add a walk in during the day, also I will still put my 25 month old in my Ergo to break things up a bit.

Many warm wishes,
Tonya - Simple Living Mom of 5

Simple Living, Joyful Homemaking, Homeschooling Mom of 6
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Old 05-25-2006, 10:43 AM
 
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He's very upset by the fact that Mommy can't chase him around the house or wrestle on the floor or crawl through the sofa cushion tunnels we make.
We have a couple of games that DD likes, I sit on the sofa and DD runs out of the room to hide, when I call boo she comes running back in giggling then heads back out to hide again. The other variation is still me sitting onthe sofa and I put my handout as though I am ticking her, she runs over for a tickle and then runs back to the other side ofhte room. Bioth seem to fill that need for mummy chasing without me actually going anywhere
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Old 05-25-2006, 11:43 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Daffodil
This has worked well with my DD too, as long as what I'm doing keeps me moving, or occupied with something that seems like work. If I'm cleaning or something, she'll often entertain herself nearby, but I still can't sit down to read without her asking me to stop and do something with her.

Another thing that helped get her used to playing by herself was not always stopping what I was doing immediately whenever she asked me to do stuff with her. I'd often say, "Okay, as soon as I finish X" or "Okay, in just a few minutes" and then sometimes she'd get so interested in something that I could just keep working for a lot more than a few minutes.
This is how it is for us, too. DD is mostly willing to play alone if I'm busy doing something that she actually perceives as "doing something." So I can wash dishes, or clean, or fold laundry, but I can't sit and read or just relax. It has to be physically active work. Interestingly, reading a book and putzing around on MDC don't count as "work" in her book, but knitting and sewing do. If she thinks I'm not "busy," she'll start pulling on me saying "up up up" telling me to come play with her.

I dunno. I think I feel very free to say, "no, DD, not right now. Soon. I have to do XYZ" because if I don't get to do these things I need/want to do, I will go stark raving mad in a dirty house. She gets a bit upset, but then when she sees I'm really serious, and that I do keep my word and play with her as soon as I finished, then she gets more and more willing to accept "not right now, soon" as an answer.

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Old 05-25-2006, 12:23 PM
 
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nak
i was rather recently shocked to discover that my dd will go and play by herself for a while if told her to! she is generally all over me all the time but if i say, "honey, i'm cooking right now. you're going to have to play by yourself for a while" she will do it!! it's just for a few minutes but sometimes she'll become engrossed in something and play alone for quite a while.
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Old 05-25-2006, 12:33 PM
 
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How funny!!! As I'm trying to read this thread (sneaking in some me time) 25 mos DD comes in and wants me to dance with her to the music (I turned off / changed to satelite music channel) ... I was going to say to this thread ... my DD has times where she's fine playing off by herself and other times or days she constantly wants me around her, playing or sitting in her room to play. If she's had independent time in her room and then decided she wants me to play with her she'll stand in her doorway of her room and yell for me, Mommy, room.... Mommy play room!! cute.

I think I have just really set her up with something playing mega blocks or racing cars on cardboard track we made or start her baking things in her play kitchen and then say Mommy has to go do such and such and say I'll be back. And I leave her and she is ok with me gone (usually) ... I do return and continue playing but really most part she's learned on own to play independently. I encourage her too by saying you can do it, you try it now.

Really though I need those mini breaks from her too, HA! I'm a SAHM and love days we do play all day together but the next day I'm all about encouraging her to play independently ... I need to clean or get my online fix. HA!

Good luck, I'm sure independent time will come on it's own. And not that I know now but I'm sure be day when they don't want us to play with them at all. That will be a sad day.
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Old 05-25-2006, 12:39 PM
 
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DD never played by herself until she as 3. I did my stuff around the house, she started helping me at an early age, but in order to play with her toys someone had to paly with her. Now she goes off and comes up with games to play by herself. I think she just needed time to get there.

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