Children have the ability to independently entertain themselves.
However, if parents do not step back and trust that their children can entertain themselves, they will unintentionally take on the role of their child’s permanent entertainer.
While this is a parent's natural role when their children are babies, this area of dependency should be phased out as a child becomes more independent.
Initially, you will need to ‘set things up’ in order for your child to be entertained. However, this should only be a bridging strategy as you role model how easy it is to find interesting things to do.
It is important that they learn to move into independent play without the need for a parent to suggest activities.
There will be a short period between the time you remove yourself as their entertainer and the time when their creative mind switches on and they have found something to do. This is when you change your role from ‘director’ to supportive ‘bystander’.
During this time, they will be irritable and demand your attention, repeatedly. You will need to display absolute trust that they have the skills to entertain themselves as you step away and complete tasks for yourself.
Use comments such as:
‘Your ideas are great’, or
‘What you choose to do is perfect’.
If your child persists in not wanting to play alone, you can invite them to help you to take care of household tasks, as well as caring for pets and preparing food.
For support at home with other challenging behaviours -