FOUR year old won't play independently - Mothering Forums

 
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#1 of 8 Old 01-06-2005, 12:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Help! My four year old needs to stay glued to my side (or my mom's, when I am at work and she watches him) ALL day long. He will not separate for a minute, unless it is to use the restroom! Nothing I say or do will inspire him to play, read, rest or do anything at all in a room other than the one I am in. It is driving me crazy, mostly because I feel that he should be able to do this by now, but also because he isn't really happy being my shadow. He wants to have fun, and clearly, it's not so much fun to watch/ help with laundry, cleaning and dishes for a large part of the day. But he just won't separate. Unfortunatley, he much prefers conversation to any type of toy or game, and he would rather hear stories than do anything else. So the types of activities he likes aren't conducive to independent play, and I do sympathize with that. He doesn't want me to invite another child over for playdates, and I have chosen to respect that wish. Any suggestions? Anyone who can relate? I am losing my patience.
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#2 of 8 Old 01-06-2005, 12:58 PM
 
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My 4 yo. is that way too, and my older son was that way at age 4 as well. I have no real solid advice as I've never resolved the situation, only become somewhat resigned to it! LOL. I do not mind him being in the same room as me, actually. I feel a bit safer that way really. I *do* mind having to continually set him up with activities that he spends 3 minutes on and then is ready to move on! He does like playdates though, a lot. And he enjoys preschool 3 afternoons a week. I also give him "work" to do along side me. He carries laundry and sorts it, and sweeps, and dusts, and makes beds, etc...

My older child learned to read when he was 6 and everything changed. Not that he spends all his free time reading books (only maybe 1/2 of it?) but he can do so many things that a non-reader can do. He can sit and play board games by himself (he plays both sides) and he can do word puzzles, and surf the net, and spend time doing creative writing. He's really become easy to have around. So there is hope!
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#3 of 8 Old 01-06-2005, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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mamaduck, my ds is on the verge of becoming a reader already, and I know that will make a huge difference in his life! He can't wait, and neither can I. My son does go to preschool 5 mornings a week. And, I work outside the home. You may ask, Then why WOULDN'T you want you child right by your side for the rest of the time, since you are apart so much. Well, for one, my mom watches him 35 hours a week, and he does the same to her. I thought it might be nice for him to be able to go off by himself so she can spend some 1:1 with my baby, whom she also watches. Also, ds really isn't happy following us around all day. He would rather be doing...I don't know what, but something else. The toys that do interest him are too compplicated for his age, but he's happy to "help" dad assemble complicated Lego models. He just won't play with the legos he can use by himself. Maybe the only answer is, this is how it's going to be for a while.
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#4 of 8 Old 01-06-2005, 03:00 PM
 
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I don't think there is any reason that a four-year-old can't have a daily "play by yourself" time. I already do that with my two kids, who are almost 3 and almost 2. Every day, before I make dinner, I have a half-hour of "Momma's quiet time." Sometimes I read, sometimes I surf the web, sometimes I do yoga. Whatever I'm doing, the kids know (or are learning) that they need to find their own thing to do and that I am not available for conversation, playtime, reading stories, or getting snacks/drinks. I'm only available in the case of injury or needing to use the potty.

Maybe you could start with 10 minutes and gradually work up? I think a four-year-old can learn to accomodate two, 30-minute "play by yourself periods" each day.

Namaste!
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#5 of 8 Old 01-06-2005, 03:02 PM
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I would have to say that probably for him it stems from the fact that he really is away from you an awful lot. Not that i am condemning you for working, not at all. Just simply stating the fact that he is more clingy to you because of that. And four really is still quite babyish for many kids emotionally, particularly boys from what i understand. You may just have to submit your soul to it and realize that it will change sooner than you know.
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#6 of 8 Old 01-06-2005, 07:41 PM
 
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What about setting him up with a book on tape/cd? My dd loves to play in her room and listen to a book on cd by herself--we have several I purchased cheap on ebay, but we also get them at the library. I'd suggest Little House in the Big Woods and Stuart Little (my dd's 2 favorites). I really enjoy listening to the stories too

peace, Beth
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#7 of 8 Old 01-06-2005, 08:05 PM
 
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teachma, my ds1 is EXACTLY the same way. He literally follows me ALL over the house. He can be happily playing (in the same room as I), but the minute I get up to throw a load of laundry in the dryer, lay the baby down, go to the bathroom, whatever--he must follow me. I don't mind somewhat, but he frequently whines while I'm trying to do what I'm doing. Also, I don't mind including him in some of the household chores, but I don't have time to let him help with everything and frankly, it's nice just to think my own thoughts while I'm doing dishes, kwim? I have wondered so often if all kids are like this, and I've come to the conclusion that while they all are to some extent, my ds is on the extreme end of this particular spectrum.

I don't really have any advice, but I do understand.

Oh and btw, I'm a SAHM and have almost never been without ds, so I don't think it's just the fact that you work. It's probably just your ds's personality.

~lisa~mama to 3 boys (1/02, 5/04, 12/06)
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#8 of 8 Old 01-06-2005, 08:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I, too, am inclined to think that his clinginess is much more his personality rather than the fact that I work. Because he behaves the same way with my mom, who acts as his primary care provider for many hours a week and IS totally willing to play with him and attend directly to him for much of that time, I think that's just how he is.

dharmamama, I like the suggestion of trying to enforce some "play alone" time, and quite honestly, the idea of that is what led me to this forum. I kind of mentioned the idea of this to ds, and he just freaked out and responded like this was going to be a huge punishment of some kind. I explained it wasn''t a "time out" or anything like that, but he hated the idea. So if I were to proceed with it, how do you suggest I do it "gently?"

The Lucky One, I am so glad to hear there's another little soul out there like my boy!
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