How to teach my children to play independently?
All three of my children (10,8, and 3) NEVER play independently, EVER, I mean NEVER! Not even a little! I have always played with them. I am at a point where as much as I love them, it would be nice if my little one could color by herself for a few minutes or if my older two could manage to play with their trucks or explore the woods or ANYTHING that doesn't involve me. I don't mean to sound like a harsh parent. They need to learn that being happy shouldn't have to be reliant on someone else ALL the time and honestly I need a break! How do I teach them this? I'm trying to break them all of tv.
Just tell them that Mommy is going to "take some time for herself, so the three of you will have to play alone" (for a specified amount of time) And then follow through. You can take baby steps by letting them play on their own for one hour or so. Children take their cues from their parents. You have taught them that all play occurs with mommy, so they accept this premise to be true.
You job is to change the premise. They'll catch on sooner than you think and they'll absolutely learn to play alone or with their siblings. The change will be harder for you initially than it is for them.
After letting them know of your plans, If any of the children throw a tantrum, just let them (unless they're breaking things). If you do not reward the bad behavior with your attention, they'll eventually get the hint and come to realize that the tantrum thing isn't going to work for them anymore. But you have to be consistent!!!
So, to reiterate, make the pronouncement about your taking a break, and then stick with it, even if they act badly. Your children will test you for awhile, but eventually they'll catch on. You are not being a bad parent in taking some time for yourself. In fact, it is worse for you to create children who have a very dependent mind set. I know all of this to be true because I taught my son early on that he needed to learn how to play by himself sometimes. It was never an issue because I did this early on...thus, he learned to be creative by making up games. I also recommend that you simply say "No" to TV sometimes. They have toys and maybe even a yard outside, in which to play creatively. One other thing, you might want to read some books written by french moms, like Raising Bebe. Frenchwomen really do know what they're talking about in this area. Hope this helps.
Thanks I think consistency is my issue, I always feel bad and end up right back to them.
You may be able to find this book at the library. Not only is it helpful, it's also witty.
http://www.amazon.com/French-Twist-Amer … 0345533267
Don't fret, you are doing your children a favor by learning to be consistent!
This is really part of the brainwashing of women that they can’t be good moms if they don’t accompany or supervise their children every minute of the day (helicopter moms). I am older and I lived in an era where we sent the kids out “to get some sunshine”, meaning “get out of my hair.” I have been informed by a grandmother or two that this can’t be done today because children may be in danger of assault or kidnapping when they play in their own backyards. I can’t relate to this at all, and I really sympathize with parents trying to raise children under these conditions.
I think you can trick them into playing on their own with some board games. Get them going then all of a sudden you have to check on something boiling on the stove. Don’t return too quickly. See if you can grab a book and a cup of tea or a coke and sit at the table for awhile by yourself. The kids may get used to your doing that, and after awhile not come for you. Once they get used to playing on their own, they might possibly find your presence intrusive.
When my two boys were five and eight, I took them to the library once a week and allowed them to check out three books each. They were good readers and spent a lot of time in their rooms reading. (My youngest learned to read at age 4 and checked out books on the 4th and 5th grade level by that time.)
“Explore the woods” sounds like a lot of fun if it isn’t where it might be dangerous, but it sounds a little advanced for children who have never been on their own. We kids were allowed to explore the woods when we were 7 or 8 years old, and I used to take our dogs and be gone for a couple of hours. But, as I said, that was a different era.
I really think you have a good idea about teaching them to be independent, and you should start now before they get any older. The 10-year-old is old enough to “mother-hen” the two younger ones. You don’t say what sex the children are, but this is especially true if the 10-year-old is a girl.
They will explore the woods play without me if they have friends over, but without friends they do nothing but play with me it seems. I didn't intend for it to be like this. Infact I "free range" when they have friends around, it's when friends gone.
You've gotten some great answers -- I'd also add that it sounds like you have a major internal shift to make before it'll really work. You say that you feel bad and end up playing with them again right away...don't! Easier said than done, I know, especially if you enjoy playing with your kids, but it's critical for them to explore on their own. My 8-year-old also almost entirely lacks the capacity for independent play because his bio-dad and stepmom allow video games outside of school. If he's not in structured activities, he's twiddling his thumbs in front of a screen or playing with daycare kids. In contrast, my 2-year-old and 3-year-old can play by themselves just fine. They get about a half-hour of TV in the mornings, and maybe as much as an hour in the evenings. After that, they're either playing with toys that involve some form of imagination (i.e. Duplos, 8-year-old has Legos), reading books, or playing outside. I'll jump in and play soccer with them, or flop out on the floor and watch movies in the evenings, or randomly join in on the game every now and then, but otherwise give them the space to learn. My husband is a stay-at-home and I'm a work-at-home, so it's not easy to leave them alone to play sometimes. When we do, though, we see such huge differences in their development, and it's really clear how we're helping them by leaving them alone. It also seems to really help in forging a strong sibling bond.
I will note that these three are my husband's 5th, 6th and 7th kids. His other four were raised in a similar way. Today, the 19-year-old is in the army, while the three older ones are all college graduates, all very independent, and one travels the world. I have a whole bunch more I could say on the subject, so I may write a hub, but I'll just say that the biggest thing is to truly acknowledge that you're helping your kids by backing away. If it helps, think about this -- they're 15, 10, and 8 years away from being legal adults, at which time they're expected to know how to behave as independent adults. That's not much time, and our generation frequently waits until it's too late to start introducing adult expectations. Good luck!
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