The kids are busy playing with various toys and each other….it’s been 20 minutes. Is this usual?
How easy is it for your children to play by themselves or do they require entertaining?
My aim with this blog has been to highlight other activities you can do with your children; start with your children and let their creativity take them to the moon. Some of these activities you do together ( e.g. dropping something stuck on pretend play) and some you start them off and they go by themselves ( E.g. Playdough or String picture). Either way trying to highlight alternative activities that don’t require lots of equipment or money but uses what we have at home. The main aim is the interaction and the play and not expensive equipment
Since children learn through play they need to do it…. alone, with others and in groups, It’s the alone bit that I’m concentrating on today.
I just read an interesting post by The Scheiss Weekly. Here is a very small extract the full article is definitely worth a read and a pause for thought.
“ Children do NOT need a parent to play with them every minute of the day. Children need to be forced to acquire the inner resources to entertain themselves. Most kids own enough toys to stock a store; put the kid in there and tell him he’s on his own because you’ve got grown-up things you simply must do. Be sure you can keep a close eye on him, if he’s tiny, but make him do some exploring on his own, for crying out loud. And speaking of crying out loud, don’t fall for THAT one, either.
A child who doesn’t have the inner resources to entertain himself becomes an adult who requires outside stimulation (shut up) at all times because they don’t have what it takes to sit quietly and dream, or think, or draw, or read, or open the damn toy box and find something to play with. Requiring your children to learn to entertain themselves encourages them to become imaginative and creative. Being at your child’s beck and call discourages these things.“
Whilst I totally understand this long range point of view I still read in forums of parent’s despair with rooms full of toys and the children hounding them to play with them or to watch the ever present TV.
Practically there seems to be a divide. Those who can and those who don’t know how yet and a big gulf inbetween with those who find it hard feeling inferior and unable to find the knack in how to do it……just let them play.
So this article is more for those parents who find it hard and need some ideas.
There is an uncomfortable time for both you and your child when they are trying to find something to do. Many children will resort to all kinds of things, including, whinning, crying, tantrums, destruction, pleading and just plain following you around. When do you give in?
I suggest you start them young by teaching them how to play. You play with them sometimes and allow them to play alone sometimes– nearby if necessary, extending the distance according to age, stage and safety, naturally. Some children will need to be taught how to play by themselves by making them do it and it will be harder but the key here is not impossible. Painful for some parents but again not impossible.
Ideas about How to do this?
- Talk to other parents and how they do it?
- Talk about your daily routines and how you get things done? Being open and interested in new ideas rather than judgmental.
- Let the new ideas sit with you and see if they fit your family values and your tolerance levels.
- Brainstorm ideas together about changing situations you’re not happy with……more heads are usually better than one 🙂
- Post on forums beware of the trolls, take advice with a pinch of salt and extract the essence that will work for you and your family.
- Take stock of how your home is set up. Are toys and activities easily accessible for the kids to use without having to ask you for everything? Some things have to be asked for, Have you taught them how to use scissors, find construction paper, peel tape, use glue- economically.
- Do you have a wide range of open ended activities your children love to do and can do for a while? Do you need to teach them how to do these activities first by joining them ? Some children need that and then once they see a way they take it and make it their own.
- Have you established rules for cleaning up activities, where toys and activities live? How you display their creations? Play isn’t about getting everything out and stamping on lego pieces until kingdom come. In our home, you can have the Lego out but the not the Brio train set together ( unless they are linking them) because from past experience it’s just too hard for them to clean all 4 boxes. If they ask they get to try and if they don’t I clean it up and ………that’s not good.
- Are there areas of the house that must be kept clean and free of children’s
detritusactivities. Have you established areas that they can be near you / see you/ show you ( which what they always want to do) and still do their activity? Picking it up and putting it down.
- Do you have times during the day when you have a whole scale clean up time? Before lunch, snack? after each activity- whatever suits your temperament. So there is order in the house.
The early years are a wonderful time of play and learning for the kids and the parents. There needs to be a balance of play activities. Establishing good play activities and ideas needs a little organisation just like establishing a good sleep routine or potty training; maintain a system or routine and things seem to run smoothly.
When you look at the play lives of your little ones. Do you see more or less a balance of them able to play by themselves and play with others- or you!
Do you fall into the “I must entertain them” mode made by these commentators?
Thank you very much for the kind mention and for the link. Teaching our children to be independent is seldom easy and often heartrending, but in the long run, and since we want our kids to grow into creative, kind, independent aduilts, it’s worth it.
Giving in to their whining and begging might be a quick fix, and easier, but ultimately, it is the kids who learn at an early age to entertain themselves and appreciate interaction with parents who will become productive adults.
The Mentor Mom says
Great post, Melitsa! Fantastic advice as well 😉