How can I enjoy playing more??? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 11-14-2011, 04:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And don't tell me "let go of the guilt" or whatever... I really want & need to be able to play with him at least a little bit more, and without feel like I'm being tortured!!

I don't like to sit on the floor, it makes my back hurt. I don't like to play with toys, my brain doesn't work that way (and apparently neither does DS's, he seems to want to play with toys but never really knows what to do with them...) I get bored very easily and I have too many 'issues' to allow myself to be bored, it makes me depressed when I have time to think.

I love spending time with him otherwise, doing active things, roughhousing, taking walks, doing crafts & projects, reading to him... It's just when he asks me to PLAY with him, I cringe and try to get out of it ASAP.

I read Playful Parenting not long ago but for some reason it didn't help... we do a lot of the stuff in there already. What DS wants if for me to actually sit on the floor and kind of play/observe him, and he wants it to be with toys, and it seems like I'm supposed to be doing something but I can never quite figure out what and I just feel bored & miserable when I try. His way of playing is really weird so I can't use any of the tactics I use when I play with other kids (like his friends). I think there is something I'm missing that's making it unenjoyable.

So, everyone that loves playing with their kids... please share your wisdom!!!

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#2 of 24 Old 11-14-2011, 06:16 PM
 
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Wow I can REALLY empathize with your situation. 

 

I have two herniated discs, so sitting or laying on the floor always makes me hurt.    I have a hard time bringing myself to play with him in a lot of ways.... and I have a baby, so the floor is the big option! 

 

Have you thought about things like table top toys, not sure how old your DS is, but blocks, legos, trains, etc....?

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#3 of 24 Old 11-14-2011, 07:04 PM
 
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Yeah, to help your poor back out have him bring his toys up onto the table.

 

You said he plays "weirdly" with his toys.  Can you elaborate?  I'm trying to figure out what he might be wanting from you in play.

 

I'm also wondering how old he is?  What about playing board or card games as opposed to "playing with toys"?

 

What about playing in more of a "project" kind of way.  Like I sometimes like playing Playmobil with my kids, and the idea is to set up a really cool scene.  That's my part of the "project" (with their input).  Then I usually wander off and let them do the actual playing (making Playmobil dudes talk to each other... not my cup of tea).  Or you could come up with an idea of something to build out of Legos and work on it together.  Or you could put together a cool track for his trains.  Etc.

 

Another thought to make it less boring might be to put an audio book or some music on in the background for you guys to listen to while you play.  Maybe you could zone out sorting legos while enjoying your favourite tunes???

 

And yeah... sometimes playing with kids is boring.  That's not your fault - that's just the way it is!


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#4 of 24 Old 11-14-2011, 07:18 PM
 
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#5 of 24 Old 11-14-2011, 07:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ahh music is a good idea, if he'll let me (sometimes he won't). We need to play more games, too, he does like board games & card games & puzzles but I keep forgetting about them...

He'll be 3 in a couple of months.

So about the weird playing... When he wants to play he'll ask me to come play with him and then he'll go sit in the living room (aka the playroom). I come join him and then he just sits there. Sometimes he'll pick up a toy or something, and then just wait. I guess he is waiting for me to direct the play, but I have no clue what to do with it. So say he has a toy cow... I might start making cow noises or try to talk to the cow. He might respond briefly, then we just sit there again. It's like pulling teeth, whereas when I play with one of his friends, she will take off from something simple and continue a pretend conversation or make up scenerios. Or say DS wants to play with cars. He'll pick up a car and drive it around for a minute... then just sits and waits. Even if I drive around my own car, it just kind of fizzles out after a minute or so. I really don't know what he wants from me. He is finally playing a bit on his own occasionally, even up to 5 minutes on his own, and when he does he usually either lines up all his toys, throws everything all over the room, or re-enacts something from real life or a book or a friend's play scenario that he observed. So I guess the thing is, he doesn't really use his imagination -- yeah, he does imaginary play, but it's just repeating stuff he's seen, rarely anything he created in his own mind, and I guess sometimes he just runs out of scenes to play out... and I'm not at all good at providing new ones. So maybe that's what I need help with most, coming up with entertaining scenarios for the toys (entertaining for both of us!!)

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#6 of 24 Old 11-14-2011, 07:32 PM
 
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What about play where you don't have to come up with imaginary scenes!  Those are my favourite types of play anyway...

 

Like I mentioned upthread would he be into building stuff with blocks or legos, or pushing a train around a cool track?  Rolling marbles through a marble run?  it sounds like he doesn't really know exactly what he wants so maybe he'd be open to you directing the play?  It seems to me if playing in that way (making cows have a conversation, etc) is not *either* or your cups of tea then why bother!  He'll probably get more into that kind of stuff when he's a bit older (or not... maybe it's just not part of his personality).


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#7 of 24 Old 11-14-2011, 09:23 PM
 
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I don't really love playing with my son in the way that HE always wants. He always wants to do imaginative play (on the floor, with his toys), and I sort of don't. I have a "play" part of me sort of missing....it's a control thing. I like doing things where I know the rules and can play a role (like a board game) but the imaginative play always was hard for me because HE wanted to take the lead and tell me what I was supposed to do, so although I sort of hated that, at least I knew what to do.

 

With your son, maybe he wants you to do it so that he can copy you, and yet you are stumped.....so why not just steal story lines from TV shows or movies or something. I used to do that when my son would ask me to make up a story every. single. night. when he was little. I kept running out of things that the characters could do in these stories, and then once I got the bright idea to just have them enact plots from things I've known all my life-- shows I've watched. So maybe you could do that.

 

Maybe your toy cow could be like Dorothy on the Wizard of Oz. She's a nice little cow who is minding her own business one day in the field and whoosh, a big tornado comes into town and whisks her away to a really interesting and crazy place where all the cows are very very tiny and there's a yellow brick road and a fairy god-chicken that comes down in a bubble with a magic wand.....you get my drift.  If he's seen the show, that might not work....but maybe it will. In any case, you don't have to come up with a plot, you sort of know what the toys are going to say to each other, and if it's a show you really do remember from years ago, then it must have been a good one--so he will probably be enthralled with what you are doing! He'll think you are SO interesting!  LOL!!

 

Good luck; I know how hard it can be to try and play outside your comfort zone.

 

 

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#8 of 24 Old 11-14-2011, 10:15 PM
 
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Hand puppets!  Seriously I hated play with me mama because i couldn't figure out what they really wanted.  Then one day we got these hand puppets and we would play with them everywhere or we would carry around a car and talk through our car.  Eventually they moved onto puzzles and chess... why oh why could a 5 yr old kick my butt at chess.  Or trains setting up the tracks was my job they just drove their trains through town and I would put on thomas the tank engine.  They loved that.  Oh and I have girls.

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#9 of 24 Old 11-15-2011, 07:13 AM
 
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I'm not the playing type either.  I've never read the book you mentioned - so not sure if this is something they talk about.  

 

When it's inevitable that I have to play - I've found it helpful to set a time limit for each game/activity.  When done with one, I'll start another "session" of something else.  I'd gently guide/lead my DC to finish up an activity, even when they still want to play more.  Of course if it's not too painful for me, I'd let them continue.  It's still boring like .... in the midst of it, yes, sometimes I'd be watching the clock, but I know this particular session won't last forever ... wink1.gif

 

I also rotate the sets of toys/activites that are available to play with.  Old ones that have been hidden away become very exciting when taken out - when I need a break, I'll just get these out and then it's play-on-their-own time.

 


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#10 of 24 Old 11-15-2011, 07:32 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Like I mentioned upthread would he be into building stuff with blocks or legos, or pushing a train around a cool track?  Rolling marbles through a marble run?  it sounds like he doesn't really know exactly what he wants so maybe he'd be open to you directing the play?  It seems to me if playing in that way (making cows have a conversation, etc) is not *either* or your cups of tea then why bother!  He'll probably get more into that kind of stuff when he's a bit older (or not... maybe it's just not part of his personality).
I suggest things like blocks & puzzles & trains but when he wants "to play" he apparently means something else & is not interested in those things... It seems like he wants the imaginary play but just isn't sure how to do it???
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With your son, maybe he wants you to do it so that he can copy you, and yet you are stumped.....so why not just steal story lines from TV shows or movies or something. I used to do that when my son would ask me to make up a story every. single. night. when he was little. I kept running out of things that the characters could do in these stories, and then once I got the bright idea to just have them enact plots from things I've known all my life-- shows I've watched. So maybe you could do that.
OK I guess that's part of my problem, I rarely remember plots of stories and barely even understand the purpose of imaginary stories, it's like some kind of life-long mental block with me, so I don't watch shows or movies really (just things like cooking shows) and only read non-fiction which doesn't really lend itself well to playing with a 2yo lol. Maybe I can try remembering some of his simple stories, I tried reenacting The Little Engine That Could once & that went over well (but I was really bored by the repetitiveness of it).
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Hand puppets!  Seriously I hated play with me mama because i couldn't figure out what they really wanted.  Then one day we got these hand puppets and we would play with them everywhere or we would carry around a car and talk through our car. 
Puppets are on our Christmas list, he might love them, but he might be scared of them, it's hit or miss with him.
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I also rotate the sets of toys/activites that are available to play with.  Old ones that have been hidden away become very exciting when taken out - when I need a break, I'll just get these out and then it's play-on-their-own time.

Yeah, I've been trying to rotate toys/activities more, it does help!

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#11 of 24 Old 11-15-2011, 10:27 AM
 
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Can you find one Mom with one child that he might like playing with?  Or maybe go to a Mom and tots type play group?  Other kids are often good at initiating this type of play.  You could let them come up with the idea and then you play with them along side your son so that he feels encouraged to play, too.  It would model both imagination and social skills and not leave you feeling bored, frustrated and socially isolated.


Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!

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#12 of 24 Old 11-15-2011, 12:53 PM
 
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Ahh music is a good idea, if he'll let me (sometimes he won't). We need to play more games, too, he does like board games & card games & puzzles but I keep forgetting about them...
He'll be 3 in a couple of months.
 

Yeah, at that age they are starting to get the turn-taking and rules of a game finally!  So when he asks to play why not bring out a game or two and set it up?  Do you have games that he likes?   That's always been one of my favorite ways to play with the kids, once they were old enough.  I'm not much for the make-the-animals-talk stuff either.  Otherwise the easiest (and most fun for me) thing to do is take out a building toy - and I've picked up quite a few from the kids' resale shops over the years...  bristle blocks, lincoln logs, duplos, Mobilo, Kid K'nex.  If you're busy building something out of it, then you're playing.  :) 

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#13 of 24 Old 11-15-2011, 06:37 PM
 
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What about having the animals act out the story from a book, with the book there for reference? You said the Thomas Tank Engine went over well. Like, a short board book that he knows well- have his toy be the main character and do whatever the book character is doing. You turn the page and make sound effects or something? I agree that playing with kids is often boring- my son is 14 months old and doesn't really "play" but wants me to show him things and doing funny stuff all day, and it gets exhausting.

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#14 of 24 Old 11-16-2011, 12:09 PM
 
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I had another idea.  A way of playing that I do quite a bit with my kids and kids that I'm babysitting is to set a scene with the toys.  I am totally not into making stuffed animals talk to each other, but I am ok with taking a stuffed animal, talking about it ("what do you think: is this a boy dog or girl dog?  What do you think her name is?",etc.), then making a family for it (finding some other stuffies to be siblings and parents, maybe friends, cousins, whatever), then setting up a house for them - maybe making a house out of a cardboard box, finding bits of fabric to lay down as their "beds", etc.  Then maybe the stuffy family needs a pool to go swimming in (well, this works better with plastic animals, lol), or a store to shop at, or whatever....

 

HTH!


Kate, mom to 7 year old Djuna and 4 yr old Alden. Missing our good friend Hal the cat who died June 2, 2010

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#15 of 24 Old 11-16-2011, 01:45 PM
 
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Honestly, I outsource imaginative play to her father and other friends who like to do that sort of thing.  My parents did not do imaginative play with us, and like you, I feel like someone is torturing me when I have to do imaginative play.  (And my brother and I had many elaborate imaginative play games when we were kids.  We made whole worlds.  But my parents were not the slightest bit involved in that.... nor would we have wanted them to be.) 

 

I do tell stories and sometimes we act them out with little soft figures that we have made. 

 

I also enjoy crafting, so I make a lot of materials for her to play with, and she likes to imitate me doing that - making things, I mean.

 

We also pretend to talk on the telephone.

 

That's about it.

 

What about pretending to do everyday activities?  I like the idea of acting out a favorite book.  That's alot of what DP does - he riffs on stories we've read or movies that we have watched.  THey also have two "guys" talk to each other.  The guys could be anything from animal figures to their hands to a ball of lint.

 

Another cool thing is we take a parent child class together.  The teacher tells a story every week, the same story for several weeks in a row, and acts it out with figures.  Then the figures and scenery go on the shelf for the kids to play with.  The kids seem to like that because then they have a starting place for what to do with the figures.

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#16 of 24 Old 11-16-2011, 03:53 PM
 
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DH also has a bad back and can't sit for long on the floor. So when DS age 7 wants to play, we have DS sit with the toys on the bed and DH pulls up a chair along side the bed. This way they are both eye level but DS gets the free movement feel of being on a surface and DH is sitting comfortably. They usually play legos together.

 

Or we use a card table and all sit at it, so neither of us are crawling around on the wood floors. Ouch!

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#17 of 24 Old 11-16-2011, 04:17 PM
 
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I suggest things like blocks & puzzles & trains but when he wants "to play" he apparently means something else & is not interested in those things... It seems like he wants the imaginary play but just isn't sure how to do it???
 


 

Ask him questions.  If he's holding a cow, ask him, "What is the cow's name?" "what is the cow doing?"  "Does cow have a baby?"  Where is cows baby?  etc.  And see if that takes you anywhere.

 

My ds always likes it when I tell a story about him, or tell a story about one of his toys doing something we did recently.  It's easy, and kind of funny to see what he says when we're done. lol

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#18 of 24 Old 11-16-2011, 04:30 PM
 
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A key thing for me when I'm doing playing that isn't fun for me is to set the timer.  If I know there's a set endpoint only 20 or 30 minutes away, it's easier to put up with.  I have a terrific imagination and can easily think up scenarios to act out with little figures, and I spent a ton of time in imaginative play when I was a kid - but I really don't enjoy doing imaginative play with my kids.  I just don't think that's the kind of thing that can be fun for grown-ups, at least not if the storyline is anything that would appeal to little kids.  As an alternative, how about play-dough (you can let him help you make it first), painting, or playing outside with water/sand/mud/sticks/gravel/snow? 

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#19 of 24 Old 11-16-2011, 05:34 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ask him questions.  If he's holding a cow, ask him, "What is the cow's name?" "what is the cow doing?"  "Does cow have a baby?"  Where is cows baby?  etc.  And see if that takes you anywhere.

LOL OK so when I do this he echos back, "What IS the cow's name?" or "What IS he doing?" If he doesn't already know the answer (in other words, if we haven't played the exact same thing with the exact same script before) then he just keeps turning the questions back on me. He's a funny kid. smile.gif

Lots of good ideas here, and I do have to play on the bed or at a table more because that always goes much better. It's hard to be creative when you're uncomfortable & in pain!! We do a lot of other activities so at least he is getting a lot of attention & interaction & stimulation, even if I'm not good with imaginary play. I will try some of the things mentioned here. I guess really I feel badly because he wants a sibling... he keeps talking about it & he really does so much better with other kids to play with. (We've been TTC #2 basically since he was born.) So maybe part of it is guilt & the feeling that I need to fill in the 'sibling' role since he's still an only child. Maybe that's silly....

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#20 of 24 Old 11-16-2011, 05:43 PM
 
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LOL OK so when I do this he echos back, "What IS the cow's name?" or "What IS he doing?" If he doesn't already know the answer (in other words, if we haven't played the exact same thing with the exact same script before) then he just keeps turning the questions back on me. He's a funny kid. smile.gif
 


My ds used to do that, lol.  Then I would just put on a silly face and say, "I don't know - I thought you knew!"  and then try to get him laughing.  It helped get more creative, and just a few days ago he came up with his teddy bears name all by himself (kind of, he named the bear after the cat "because I like Sam the cat!")

 

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#21 of 24 Old 11-17-2011, 07:45 AM
 
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i love imaginative play, myself.  but, what about dominoes/ matching games, puzzles?  those are age appropriate and can be done at a table.

some ideas for you might be to do like other posters said and act out stuff from books - they make some animals that go with books that i've seen..

it's easy (esp since you're crafty) to make shadow puppets for that or just copied pictures from the books, too, maybe mounted on straws or popsicle sticks?

with book characters, you can go off- script, but some of the "hard" work is done- you are already acquainted with what the character is like, and the situation is sort of set. 

also, what about something like a dollhouse?  it might take some time, but if you have a collection of dolls / animals to go with it, i think if your kid can first develop the personality of the doll/animal, then the rest of the imaginative play might come more easily.  and you can help elaborate on that.  and the dollhouse can be at a short table for you to sit at comfortably!  it just sounds to me like your kid needs help getting started, and hopefully once it gets established you can step away while the play continues...

i wouldn't worry about the sibling guilt.  as a kid i was basically self-immersed in imaginary play b/c there was nobody for me to play with (my parents wouldn't) and i think i am much better for it- that's the thing with imaginary play: nobody else is needed.  you can just make other people up if you need to!!! no limits to an imagination.

 

or music like pianojazzgirl said-- maybe act out the music somehow?  one of my favorite things as a kid was the hansel and gretel opera- i loved to act it out... and peter and the wolf?  or even the soundtrack to mary poppins or whatever...


Is it getting lonely in the echo chamber yet?

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#22 of 24 Old 11-18-2011, 11:25 AM
 
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I'm a mathematical builder sort myself.  My imagination is quite capable of running away with itself, but I can't seem to take a child with me.  Not my talent.  You said don't say, "Let the guilt go."  But really, you have to decide that it is okay to be who you are.  That you are already molding your ds by your actions...and that's okay.  In 30 years, he still won't know what to do with a stuffed cow.  Part of it is his genetics (yours!) and part of it is that you don't do it with him.

 

That said, if dd hadn't been my first, I would have been really worried about her.  She still has things that concern me at times, but with enough coaching, she'll be fine.  She was so...non-interactive...as a little person.  It was like she wanted it to be that way, but couldn't or wouldn't or something.  Some of it (she's 6 now) turned out to be her opinions.  I was doing it wrong, but she couldn't explain to me what to do when she was that little.  Some of it was her mimicking me.  I was always picking up, and she was, too.  We couldn't play with stuff because she wanted it in the bag where it belonged.  And some of it was just her, she just doesn't think that way either.  Now that I have another dd, I am amazed at the conversation and the imagination, and the ideas.  Dd2 doesn't need me at all.  Is it because she's watched the older kids so much?  Or was dd1 really that different?

 

Anyway, with dd1, I would build stuff out of her toys for her, or do science experiemnts, or do practical jokes with her.  Also, when she got a little bigger, I was able to see that she really did need a lot more help seeing what to do with stuff.  She's very much a rule follower.  Whatever is said once (or happens once), is HOW it IS.  She just doesn't think outside of the box.  So, I would pick up a toy, and say, "This is a whatever. Most people like to do x with it, but some do y.  Or maybe z.  It would be okay if you wanted to do a, b, or c with it.  Or maybe there is something else you'd like to do with it.  That's what it's for."  That sort of conversation helped her a lot.

 

And, helping her to see the kind of person she is helped, too.  Like at the part where I would say, "Most people do x with it."  I might say, "But, remember.  You are your own person and are very special.  You like to do g and f, so maybe you would like to use this for one of those things.  That might be dd1's way of using it."

 

 


"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#23 of 24 Old 11-22-2011, 06:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crunchy_mommy View Post

Ahh music is a good idea, if he'll let me (sometimes he won't). We need to play more games, too, he does like board games & card games & puzzles but I keep forgetting about them...
He'll be 3 in a couple of months.
So about the weird playing... When he wants to play he'll ask me to come play with him and then he'll go sit in the living room (aka the playroom). I come join him and then he just sits there. Sometimes he'll pick up a toy or something, and then just wait. I guess he is waiting for me to direct the play, but I have no clue what to do with it. So say he has a toy cow... I might start making cow noises or try to talk to the cow. He might respond briefly, then we just sit there again. It's like pulling teeth, whereas when I play with one of his friends, she will take off from something simple and continue a pretend conversation or make up scenerios. Or say DS wants to play with cars. He'll pick up a car and drive it around for a minute... then just sits and waits. Even if I drive around my own car, it just kind of fizzles out after a minute or so. I really don't know what he wants from me. He is finally playing a bit on his own occasionally, even up to 5 minutes on his own, and when he does he usually either lines up all his toys, throws everything all over the room, or re-enacts something from real life or a book or a friend's play scenario that he observed. So I guess the thing is, he doesn't really use his imagination -- yeah, he does imaginary play, but it's just repeating stuff he's seen, rarely anything he created in his own mind, and I guess sometimes he just runs out of scenes to play out... and I'm not at all good at providing new ones. So maybe that's what I need help with most, coming up with entertaining scenarios for the toys (entertaining for both of us!!)


It sounds to me like he might be having trouble being able to do symbolic play for very long. He's young (not quite 3), and this is an age where you'll see lots of variation in imaginative play, and where the difference between 'almost 3' and 3 1/2 can be huge. I'll also add: He appears to me to be hard work to play with because his play isn't typical. Most kids, when they're ready to do imaginary play, will take a suggestion or two and then extend them. He's not doing that. I don't know if that's a "he's not doing that yet" or "he's not able to do that yet because..." It sounds like he's got the basics of communication and play, but isn't moving to the next step.

 

One thing my children loved was acting out parts of their day. Actually at this age, our son did two types of imaginative play: recreating parts of his day + pretending to drive a garbage truck. He didn't want a lot of different scripts. He wanted the consistency and rhythm. He needed to process his world through play. (He's still doing this -- he's 10 and condescended to play stuffed animals with his  younger sister. His younger sister had the idea that there was going to be a Christmas ball in animal world, and the animals all needed someone to go to the dance with and they needed to learn to dance. Ds's stuffed penguin suddenly became very interested in one of the bears because the penguin had a crush on her. Uh oh, I think we're moving into the "I might like girls" stage.)

 

If you can't find scripts that way, try taking some small stories from books.

 

Finally, you might want to read up on Stanley Greenspan's Floortime Model. Don't freak out because it's aimed at children with autism -- there's a lot of good stuff in there about helping children extend their play in ways that is safe and comfortable for them. It's got really good instructions for the parents on how to play. Since that doesn't come naturally, I'm thinking the instructions for the parents might help you.

 


Lynnteapot2.GIF, academicreading.gif,geek.gif wife, WOHM  to T jog.gif(4/01) and M whistling.gif (5/04)
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#24 of 24 Old 11-23-2011, 07:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for all the ideas & book suggestions!! We'll keep working on it, as much as I can tolerate that is... wink1.gif Maybe he does just need another year or so...

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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