tbwscoza4 asks:

How do we get our children to play alone without adult company?

My 30 year old daughter who is a single mum, recently spent two weeks with us over Christmas. I have a 4 1/2 year old grand-daughter and a 2 1/2  year old grandson and apart from when they bath or when they go down to sleep, they will not play alone or entertain themselves either inside or outside without adult attention/company.
When my grand-daughter goes down for her nap, she will sometimes not sleep but plays quietly by herself for upto an hour and a half, My grand-son is slowly learning to do this as well. However when we try and get them to play with out us, it becomes very difficult.

I have encouraged them to have a "tea party" and helped them "get started" and have spent about ten minutes playing with them, but the moment I leave they stop that and end up whining inside the house. If we try to get them to play outside alone there are tears and sulks protests. There are a variety of outdoor toys for them to play with but again will only play with them if adults play with them. My Grandson will happily follow my husband around the whole day "helping" him with painting, gardening etc.

It does not appear to be linked to separation anxiety as they are quite comfortable being left behind with someone,  if mum or dad go somewhere, and they love going to day care.

But there are times when we are busy and need to do things and we are at a loss at how to get them to play alone either inside or outside.

Please advise.

In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago



Jan 13, 2012
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What the Expert Says:

Try setting a timer.  Initially for 2 minutes.  Tell both children that it is quiet time until the timer goes off and when it does you will do a fun activity together.  

On the first day, set the timer for 2 minutes three times at different times of the day.  During those times, do not respond to whines and cries (unless somebody gets hurt).  Every other day, extend the quiet time by an additional minute until the kids get a hang of it.  When the timer goes off, don't forget to reward them with your attention and affection.

Best regards.
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