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is this common for only children?

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Alyssamd24 posted 3/18/2014 18:28 PM

My DD will be five in April and going to kindergarten in September. She has been in daycare since she was 16 months old and is now in preschool. She has always been a shy child but is also social....she plays with other children and gets along well with others.

The problem is she doesn't know how to play by herself when she is at home....she plays fine if we are sitting and playing with her but very rarely plays alone. I have tried playing with her and then explaining it's time for her to play so mommy can do some chores, but more often than not it ends up with her following me around the house.

If we ask her to get something upstairs in her bedroom she will usually ask us to go with her, and if we don't she will cry or not go up.

Sometimes she will even refuse to go the bathroom by herself, even though she has been potty trained for two years.

My husband works second shift and is only home in the evenings two days a week...whenever he is home she constantly has to be in the same room with us, and it's almost impossible for us to have a conversation without her interrupting us.

I don't know if this is normal for an only child, but don't think it is. And I am worried it could be a sign of a larger problem, though I don't know what. I also don't know what to do to help her gain more independence from my husband and I.

I hope it doesn't sound like I am just complaining about her cuz that's not the case....I just don't think it's normal for her to be so reliant on us and to not know how to amuse herself. And I don't know if she really doesn't know how to play/be alone or if it's all just an act.

Kelany posted 3/18/2014 18:43 PM

I think it has less to do with being an only child (I'm one) but due to the ups and downs of the past year+. Moving it with your parents, then back. Fear of that happening again, shuffled between parents, not living with daddy. She's clinging. She may not understand that she's doing it or can't convey it.

Mama_of_3_Kids posted 3/18/2014 19:16 PM

I was an only until I was almost 7, and my mom says that I entertained myself most of the time...maybe a little too well, as I can remember making a kool-aid swimming pool for my Barbies

I agree that it may have to do with the changes she has experienced over the last year. Try talking to her, to find out why she wants to be with you all of the time. (((mom & kiddo)))

IRN2006 posted 3/18/2014 20:34 PM

I have three kids.

My first kid is a people person. His love languages are time and touch. His idea of a good time is engaging in a 3 hour monopoly game with me and making sure he hugs me several times a day (the child is 10). No matter how much I want him to be independent, he isn't going to feel loved and valued if I push him away. It's just how he's wired.

My second kid is VERY independent. Even with an older sibling around, she's content to play by herself.

My third child is somewhere in between.

#2, miss independent has been going through a thing right now, where she ends up in our room at night because she's afraid. I guess I'm not so worried about it. We went through the same stage with #1, about the same time.

I think there's only so much you can do to alter a child's emotional needs.

I'm wondering if you can do chores WITH your child? By 5, my kids can clean sinks super well and rock dusting with swiffers. They can also clear the table, put some dishes away, and help load the dishwasher. I've also had some really lovely conversations with my son while we were cleaning toilets.

DH and I also opt to have conversations at other times than when our kids are around/awake. It helps, though, that we both work daytime hours. Though DH works part time and has a kid home with him. So, even then the conversations don't go so well. One time I called him up and couldn't talk over him yelling "Oh No #3! We don't sit on there. It's not safe and you can hurt yourself"

purplejacket4 posted 3/18/2014 21:08 PM

I was an only child until my dad remarried when I was twenty.

I had no problem playing by myself and had no problem staying occupied. I think it depends on the child.

Alyssamd24 posted 3/18/2014 21:17 PM

Thank you everyone, I think it could also be due to the last year; she doesn't talk about when we moved to my parents that often, but did mention it to my husband last week when he put her to bed.

I guess for now, she will be helping mommy cook....and clean! !

Sad in AZ posted 3/18/2014 23:48 PM

My DS is an only child. He equally liked playing by himself and spending time with his dad and me. He was very independent; he was able to fly across country by himself at the age of 7.

It really depends on the child.

Bobbi_sue posted 3/19/2014 03:15 AM

I think we worry too much about differences and jump to label difference as abnormal. While it can be an annoying trait, I think some children just don't like to play by themselves and are not very good at entertaining themselves in the way she you wish she would at times. Sure, upheaval in your lives could worsen this, or it may not be a factor. I still think there is nothing abnormal about it.

[This message edited by Bobbi_sue at 3:16 AM, March 19th (Wednesday)]

Mack9512 posted 3/19/2014 09:31 AM

My only, DD8, did not play well by herself until this year. We always had to keep her entertained. Or we had to schedule play date after play date just to get the laundry done. (I actually had to pay a babysitter to come in and entertain DD so that I could do chores around the house! ) It was exhausting and expensive.

Finally, this year she has broken the "Play with me. Mommy play with me! MOMMA PLAY WITH ME!!!" cycle and will play for hours in her room or in the game room, and when she's ready for company she will come and find us.

tushnurse posted 3/19/2014 09:55 AM

I think each kid is different, but I do think it is also very very important for a kid to know how to entertain themselves on some level.

Can you institute a reward system, say for 15 minutes a day she has to go play on her own with her stuff in her room. If she does that without interrupting your then you will spend an equal amount of time with her one on one.

You and your H need to be able to have that time alone to have adult conversations without being railroaded by your daughter. It will help her when she starts real school too, if she is content to be on her own, then she will be less likely to get sucked into the so in so doesn't like me nonsense.

My son was great with playing on his own, he and his leggos and dinosaurs could play all day. Now my DD she was harder to get on her own, but if she had music, then she would sing and dance, and so forth. By the time she was 6 she was putting on shows on a regular basis. Who for? The dog, and her dolls.

Weatherly posted 3/19/2014 10:11 AM

I think it is a personality thing, not an only child thing, I have two boys. My 8 yr old can play by himself for hours. He, my husband and myself can happily sit in the same room, doing our own thing for a long time without speaking. My 10 yr old on the other hand wants constant attention. He wants you to play with him, talk to him. If he's watching a movie, he doesn't want me to read, he wants me to look at it with him, when he cleans his room, he wants me to come in and applaud every piece of clothing he picks up. If you tell him to do his homework, he doesn't "know how" but if you sit there with him, he does it fine. And he will come sit between H and I when we talk.

This has caused some problems, most recently my 8yr old asked for his own room. Because his brother would not give him any space, Ds10 would tick his brother (who has a temper) off, Ds8 would walk away, like he's been told, to calm down. And Ds10 would follow him, so they could cool off together. Its been 3 days, Ds8 is thrilled with his room. Ds10, not so much.

We've gotten to the point of just saying "you're being rude right now. All the time everyone has isn't yours. Go play by yourself. We'll play Battleship with you later." And sometimes, he goes and cries in his room, sometimes it pisses him off, but, he does need to learn to occupy himself for awhile.

pmal64 posted 3/19/2014 10:21 AM

my oldest (DD is almost 6 yrs older than DS)was that way. very social @daycare, church. but wanted to be under my butt ALL the TIME @ home! ~I figured it was because she was always in a small group setting at Daycare. by the time middle school rolled around, she could spend DAYS in her room by herself! they are all different.

sparkysable posted 3/19/2014 14:14 PM

My daughter is an only child, and she's not like that at all.

I think it all comes down to personality. My daughter is extremely outgoing, and very good at keeping herself occupied.

Newlease posted 3/19/2014 15:12 PM

Another opinion that says it's individual. I was raised as an only child (siblings MUCH older than me) and my father was a functioning alcoholic. I learned at a young age to entertain myself.

It was a long time ago and a small town - my mother would send me outside in the morning and not expect to see me again until lunch - same thing in the afternoon. My big entertainment was reading. As soon as I learned to read, I could escape into my own little world. Inside or outside, I always had a book in my hand.

I would never have dreamed of thinking my mother or father needed to play with me - that just never happened.

And as bleak as that sounds, I think I turned out ok. Your little one is probably just reacting to the stress. This too shall pass.


hexed posted 3/19/2014 15:42 PM

I was an only child until I was 23 so I pretty much think I'm an only child

very individual and may have to do with life events in the last year. i wouldn't worry too much about the only factor.

only children IN GENERAL are good at entertaining themselves but often relate to adults or older children better than their peers b/c they spend more time with them than most kids do.

I went through a phase at 4 -5 when I was waaaaaaaaaay too attached to my best friend. That probably stemmed from enjoying same aged companionship.

one thing that i've found interesting over the years that I attribute to being an only is that I seem to be a 50/50 mix of introvert and extrovert. Very confusing for people in my life.

Alyssamd24 posted 3/19/2014 18:04 PM

I'm glad to see this doesn't seem to be just because she is an only child. I like the idea of the reward system and am going to try that.

I am also wondering if part of the problem is my husband's work schedule is still new....he has only worked these hours for two weeks, so I am thinking the extra neediness is in response to that.

Cally60 posted 3/19/2014 18:43 PM

I have tried playing with her and then explaining it's time for her to play so mommy can do some chores, but more often than not it ends up with her following me around the house.

She's still very young. It seems to me completely normal for small children to want to be in the same room as their parents. To be honest, I would see small children who are perfectly happy to play in another part of the house from their parents as the exception, rather than the rule. And I agree with several earlier posters: the upheaval of the past year may well have made your daughter's natural need to be close to you even greater.

In my experience, the more one tries to push small children into doing something, the more reluctant they usually are to do it! (For an example of this, just watch all the reluctant toddlers whose parents are sadly disappointed when they try to coax them into paddling in the sea for the first time. Usually, the harder the parents try, the more the toddlers protest, and the greater the likelihood of it all ending in screams and tears.) It's the same with trying to encourage a child to go away for a while. As soon as you tell your daughter that she needs to play on her own, her immediate, intense and more or less instinctive desire is to stay right there with you.

I think IRN6000's suggestion of encouraging your daughter to help in some small way with your chores is an ideal solution. But even when that's not possible, I'd at least let her follow you around. She can watch you and chat; and you might give her a little basket or bag, in which she can carry a few toys, to play with as you move from room to room, cleaning the house, and she trails along behind you.

If you simply accept her presence, without comment, then I think she will gradually feel more and more secure - and she might even start wanting to stay put, as you move on to the next room.

Similarly, if your daughter senses that you and your husband want to be alone to talk, she will probably feel left out. I think it is perfectly acceptable to say to a child. "OK. I have to talk to Daddy about xyz now. So you'll need to be really quiet for a few minutes. And then once I've finished we can all play your game together before you go to bed." (It's better, I think, if you say that YOU need to talk to your husband, rather than that you and your husband need to talk, because that might possibly make your little girl feel excluded and thus determined not to be left out of the conversation.)

[This message edited by Cally60 at 7:18 PM, March 19th (Wednesday)]

Alyssamd24 posted 3/19/2014 18:47 PM

Thank you Cally! I will try that....I agree the more you try to get them to do something the less likely they will be to do it!

I really hope this post doesn't come off in a way that seems like my DD is an annoyance because I certainly dont mean it that way.....its more of a concern. No one has made me feel that way, but I just wanted to clarify!

hexed posted 3/19/2014 18:56 PM

If you simply accept her presence, without comment, then I think she will gradually feel more and more secure - and she might even start wanting to stay put, as you move on to the next room.


I don't ever remember my mom trying to make me go play in another room. I was just wherever I happened to be. I was quite good at finding mischief so I think my mom didn't mind if I was close. I know I quite often was going with my mom from room to room. I don't recall being either invited or rejected from any space very often.

Want2help posted 3/19/2014 23:52 PM

My DD will be 5 in May (and will start kindergarten in September, as well).

She has been in daycare since she was two (her first year was home with me, then home with my H).

At school she is very outgoing, not shy at all.

She is going through a "I NEED SOMEONE TO PLAY WITH" phase. Wants me to play with her 24/7. If I can't, she often tells me how much she wants a sibling (and I explain that I'd be playing with her even less, because I'd be nursing a baby, ).

Honestly, I think (HOPE?) it is a phase, because she isn't getting a sibling.

But I think, as everyone mentioned here, all children are different because all people are different.

[This message edited by Want2help at 11:58 PM, March 19th (Wednesday)]

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