Do you have a child who can’t play on their own? The type of kid who always needs you to be involved in everything they do? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. But, you also don’t have to keep going this way! It is possible for you to teach your kids to entertain themselves, and I’m going to show you how.
Give Them Some Attention
Get your kids started by giving them a little bit of attention. This might mean reading a short book together or playing together for a few minutes. Once they’ve had a little bit of time with you explain to them that you need to go wash clothes or make lunch but that it’s ok for them to stay and play. They might kick up a bit of a fuss at first, but reassure them that they will have fun while you’re doing boring work stuff.
Make Sure They Have Toys
Before you leave make sure they have toys available to them and that they can play with as many of them as they want. Make sure some are within grabbing distance of where they’re sitting so they will immediately have something within reach. If they have to go hunting for something to play with they may have a meltdown.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Now it is time for you to leave the room. Leave the room and go somewhere out of their line of sight. Listen out for any meltdowns and if one does happen go back in. In the beginning, you may only get 5 minutes of peace before the meltdown starts. If that’s the case, that’s ok. Take it slow. This is a new and scary thing for some kids.
Pick Toys That Spark Imagination
When you’re buying your kids toys go for ones that will spark their imagination and get them thinking about imaginary worlds. These will engage their minds even more than educational toys do and they will be more likely to forget that you’ve left them on their own. You know your child best so it is up to you if you go for a toy farm toy set or a bunch of cardboard boxes to represent a spaceship and spacesuit.
Don’t Interrupt Them
Finally, if your children are playing well on their own don’t interrupt them. Leave them alone. The longer and more frequently they play on their own the easier it gets for them. Which means you will soon have more time for getting those quick chores done or just curling up with a good book.
Here are a few more small tips to make this all go easier:
- Don’t ignore them. If they ask questions or want you to look at something do so, but only the first few times. After that explain that you’re busy and ask them to take a picture to show you later.
- Screen time doesn’t count. It’s all too easy to sit a kid down in front of a screen so you can get things done. There’s no shame in it either. But this isn’t quite the same.
- Do something fun with them after playtime is over. Show them that you aren’t abandoning them.
How do you teach your kids to entertain themselves? If you struggle with this, I hope this is helpful especially as we enter the spring break season from school. Even if you have plans, these are still great tips for kids to entertain themselves.