"Play with me. Play with me. Play me with." MAKE IT STOP - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 04-19-2010, 11:33 PM - Thread Starter
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My 5.5 yo wants us to play with him ALL THE TIME. I know other people deal with this and there have been discussions about kids who don't play with toys.

What I need to know, though, is how to just make him understand to STOP ASKING ME TO PLAY WITH HIM ALL THE TIME.

Example: I'm making dinner tonight, and he stands near me chanting "play with me." Non-stop. And it's in a demanding way, not a whiny way, and I don't really know which would be worse.

I have tried everything. I was telling him the whole time that I would play with him when I got everything in the oven, please have patience, please find something to do and I'll let you know when I'm ready, etc. etc.

I have also explained to him, ad nauseum, that dinner has to be made, no one else here to make it, he can help if he'd like, do you want me to get you some playdough, yaddayaddayadda.

I'm at the point where I just want to yell "OMG STOP IT. AND IF YOU CAN'T STOP IT, PLEASE WALK AWAY AND DO IT SOMEWHERE ELSE."

I mean, seriously, isn't he old enough to understand that he cannot have my attention every single solitary freaking moment of the day?? Isn't he old enough to understand that I have work that needs to be done, and why exactly can't he play with the bazillion toys he has around the house that he won't let me donate??

You know, I don't hold my parent's parenting skills in very high regard, but I would have been sent straight out the back door if I had done that. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm too soft.

Whew, I needed to get that off my chest.

Any advice??
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#2 of 12 Old 04-19-2010, 11:48 PM
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I hear ya, mama. I have a 3 year old who does this. I have had *some* success with a timer, I set it and then tell her she has to play by herself until the timer rings. It buys me about 5-10 minutes usually. The other thing I have started doing is telling her ONCE that I'm cooking dinner, and then not getting drawn in to explaining to her why mommy can't play with her right now. The more I talk, the more I think she thinks she's going to convince me to come play with her, which just intensifies her efforts to keep whining and shouting at me.

I know how tough it is, hang in there!
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#3 of 12 Old 04-20-2010, 12:47 AM
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Ha, that happens at our house too, and I feel the same way.
Sometimes if I ask DS (4.5) what he is going to do while I prepare dinner/unload dishwasher/shove laundry in washer, etc., that works: "I'm going to do X for about ten minutes. Are you going to listen to your audio book or sit at the table and draw?"

This is only somewhat effective, so I'll be lurking here for ideas!

Hang in there.
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#4 of 12 Old 04-20-2010, 12:48 AM
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How much do you normally play with him?

Perhaps he isn't so much playing *with* you as he is relying on you to entertain him. Maybe you need to back off a lot and help him learn how to entertain himself, even if that sounds mean.

It's a skill he needs to learn, IMHO.

I know with my kids when I used to play, play, play with them all day, they required SO MUCH more of my time and demanded me to entertain them, because they couldn't figure out what to do on their own. Then one day I just put a stop to it all because I noticed what was happening....and within a few days they figured it out all on their own. They discovered their own interests, and their imaginations soared and they spent longer and longer times in creative play.

Now I can turn them loose in the backyard for 4-5 hours at a time and they are perfectly content to play without me.
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#5 of 12 Old 04-20-2010, 01:06 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Anastasiya View Post
How much do you normally play with him?

Perhaps he isn't so much playing *with* you as he is relying on you to entertain him. Maybe you need to back off a lot and help him learn how to entertain himself, even if that sounds mean.

Well, he's in preschool/daycare from 9-3 Mon-Thursday. So I try to interact with him a lot in the evenings, but I don't get down on the floor and play hot wheels or anything. We've been doing a lot of board games lately.
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#6 of 12 Old 04-20-2010, 10:43 AM
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^5. I'm in the same boat. I'm a single WOHM with an only child....which means we have ended up being each other's entertainment.

It kind of drives me nuts when I have to turn my attention to something and I immediatly get the same thing.."when are you gonna play with me?" "let's play hot wheels!" "come watch me do this"

Ugh. Sometimes I don't want to or just can't.

I finally caved and bought a computer with some learning games, put it in the dining room and he'll play that while I make dinner and "watch" him. Sometimes I allot him his TV time while I get something done. Sometimes he'll come help me.

It doesn't help that I'm trying to break us out of the "you're my entertainment" phase because I honestly believe I kind of created it. I know he feels that I'm trying to force him to be more independant.
I think mine not only needs to learn some more self entertainment, but also a little bit about delayed gratification (which I think is a very important quality).

BUT we do still have game night, weekend together activites, chat time, computer game time together, etc. When he starts the "PLAY WITH ME" chant I try to remind him that I've promised him time later and that I have to do XYZ right now.
If he keeps up the chant then I remind him that I hear him, answered him, and the answer will not change. After that I send him out of the kitchen (or wherever) to preserve my sanity and temper.

I hear ya though, it can be annoying.

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#7 of 12 Old 04-20-2010, 11:20 AM
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I think it's a stage. My son is entering it. It really is maddening. Mine adds in a rant about needing a sister.

I've been doing the playful approach thing right now. "I wish I had 7 heads and 14 arms and 14 legs so I could do everything at once all the time."

And I've also once or twice resorted to "take this timer and go in the living room and don't come back until it beeps." Books on CD seem to help.

The thing is with my son - he is fully capable of independent play, so I pretty much believe it's not about that. I think it's partly a power thing and partly a new awareness of peers things. But whatever it is, he needs to work it out!

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#8 of 12 Old 04-20-2010, 02:28 PM
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No advice, but mine is like this, too. Or because we go to the park one day he demands that we go every day. Sometimes we can't or I just don't feel like walking there and then he starts yelling "I've never been to the park!" even if we just went the day before.

I think part of it may be that we used to live with family friends that had a girl his age and all they did all day was play together. Now it's just my DP, my DS, and I and he's having trouble adjusting. I'm not much of a play person, either, so that doesn't help. I wasn't a playful kid, either.

DS 8/4/04 "You're my best mommy in the deep blue sea!"
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#9 of 12 Old 04-21-2010, 05:24 PM
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Bear with me.. I have several suggestions of specific things to try:

1) if he really is "demanding", my reaction would be "Wow, you sound really upset! I'm sorry, I can't hear you unless you're asking in your nice voice".

My kids have learned that they need to ask "Can I please have..." or "can you please do..." before I will even consider the request.

2) set a timer and say, I have to work for 10 minutes. When the timer beeps, turn to him and say "okay, I'm ready".

3) get down to his level and say -- this is what I'm doing right now. You have a choice -- you can sit there and keep asking me to play with you, OR, you can help me prepare dinner. It's up to you whether or not you choose to help, but this is what I'm doing now. If you want to help, you can start by washing your hands... If he keeps saying "play with me", just keep repeating "I will know that you're ready to help me prepare dinner when your hands are washed".

He's 5.5 now -- you can probably teach him how to use a knife properly and he could help chop vegetables. My 6.5 year old is quite good at it now -- I think we started around that age.



I just re-read your post and thought of a 4th point:

4) I've done this with my kids and it worked great for me. When they are being too loud, I remind them that we use an indoor voice inside the house. If they continue to be loud, I simply tell them that they need to take their outdoor voice outside. If they don't quiet down, I get them dressed appropriately for the weather (sunshine, rain, snow, or blizzard) and deposit them in the enclosed back yard, and close and lock the door behind me. When they call me through the glass door, I go to the door and say through the glass "When you have found your inside voice, you may come back inside".

Call me cruel if you must, but there is no evil intent here, it's all done with a very calm hand and a calm disposition. I've laid down the rules, and I've enforced the rules.
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#10 of 12 Old 04-22-2010, 04:34 PM
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My almost 5 yo has been doing this as well, after a lifetime of entertaining himself. It happened after my mother came to visit and devoted 24/7 to playing with my kids.

Each morning, I make it a priority to play with him for a few minutes before I start my day, this way his "cup is full" and he will go play by himself for a while. If he starts asking me to play incessantly, I will lovingly explain what I'm doing and when I will be available. Sometimes this satisfies him; other times not. If not, I will often invite him to participate (in cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc...) because sometimes all he needs is time WITH me, and being invited to do what I'm doing makes me feel like I'm not excluding him. If he says no, then he just has to wait.

I do get frustrated sometimes, but after about the age of 3, I expect my kids to wait short periods of time. Part of learning to become an adult is realizing that adults have work to do- life isn't all about PLAY If you consider other cultures, the children are expected to alolow the adults to do their work through the day, while being/playing nearby and I don't feel that this is bad for them at all- as long as you're devoting some 1-on-1 time a little each day.

My kids are used to this routine and they now entertain themselves most of the day- they let me know when they need some of my attention. Hang in there, these phases can be so trying, but this too shall pass!!!

Jessica, Mom of Three
DS #1 (age 7)
DS #2 (age 4)
DD due May 2010

Jessica- married to David- parenting our 3 monkeys- DS #1 (age 7) DS #2 (age 4) and a brand new DD (born 5/10/10)
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#11 of 12 Old 04-24-2010, 03:41 AM
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There's some really great advice here, and I'm sure it helps to know that you're not the only one! Many of us out here suffer from the same thing. My son's just turned six and when my husband's away, and I'm making dinner, I often have to explain over and over that I can't play with him. He has two younger siblings, and that helps, but what works for me is actually getting him set up in an activity. I'll lay out on the table some paper and some markers that he hasn't played with for a long time and ask him to draw darth vader, or whatever he's into at the moment. Or I'll get him to help me make dinner (which he rarely wants to do), or blow bubbles on the balcony, or actually spend a couple minutes getting him situated in the activity and then I'll sneak off to continue with dinner or whatever. I hate to resort to videos/tv/movies -- and we try to save that only for Saturdays, but god, that would work every time. Same goes with any electronic games -- we keep the one we have hidden.

Good luck, and hang in there. I'm sure it's just a stage.
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#12 of 12 Old 04-26-2010, 05:35 PM
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This is EXACTLY why I came to post here today. I was going to ask for pretty much the same advice. My son will be 4 in less than a month. He does not like to ever do anything by himself.

I spend a good deal of the day including him. He helps me cook and clean (gladly, not forced), we play games, read, and color together everyday. Most days he wants to "play school" (letters and numbers). When weather is suitable, we play outside. He is also completely capable of playing by himself. And he has many "creative play" opportunities in his room (kitchen stuff, wooden blocks, baby dolls, etc). He just refuses to play by himself. If I tell him I need him to play by himself for a little bit while I take a break, or feed his little sister or whatever could he please just go in the room, he pouts and asks if he can just sit on the couch. Then he pouts for about five minutes and starts asking me if I'll play with him again. Then he'll run around " I WISH someone would play with ME."

I'm at a loss.

Single mama to DD8. Feminist. Queer. UU. Poly. Disabled.
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