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Does/Did your toddler play alone? Help!

I have a 17-month old who can't play alone. I have a very frustrated husband and a baby due in two and a half months. Jake will take one of our fingers and lead us to his play room. If we refuse and tell him to play on his own, he cries and hangs on to one of us (usually it's Dad if he's home). Maybe all toddlers are like this, but I can't imagine... I am a SAHM, and I play with him a lot at home, so maybe this is my own problem I've created? Daddy does a fair share of playing with him too, so we feel like we should be able to allow him/encourage some alone time too.

One mother suggested a big circular gate where he can see us, but he is forced to play on his own, like it or not. I would just use it on a couple occasions, like when I am cooking or Dad is fixing something. Are there baby steps I can take with him other than this? Any advice, experience would be so helpful! Any books or other resources would be helpful too!

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Asked by JRB101009 at 12:06 PM on Mar. 14, 2011 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 7 (193 Credits)
Answers (8)
  • Honestly, the only thing that will work here is a playpen because you guys have been so good about occupying him. I made that mistake with my first and by 18 months it was really hard to introduce the playpen. With the second, he got a few 15 minute playpen times every day and he's better; not his favorite but he'll stay there. And when he's out, he's much better on his own.

    Answer by Issac at 12:08 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • Mine was the same way... and it had nothing to do with being played with often here. It's just how he was wired.

    I think you've already figured out what you need to do.

    Answer by gdiamante at 12:16 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • He doesn't play by himself for very long. He likes to wander around the house.
    And forget about a playpen. He screams until it becomes unbearable.

    Answer by febmom007 at 12:28 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • Both of mine went through a phase like that - and its not anything anyone did wrong. It's called being a toddler. ;) Give him something to do near you or with you as you do your 'non play' stuff. At that age my kids had their own broom - and frankly, they loved it. They'd cook with me, they'd clean. They'd sit on my lap and flip pages in a book while I checked email. No, you can't be entertaining him 24/7 but he is going to ask you to.

    My oldest outgrew it around the time he started making peer connections in preschool. My youngest (age 6) still has moments where she thinks she needs another person to entertain her. Frankly, she's a VERY social kid who craves interaction with other people. She can play on her own or with our dog, but she'd MUCH rather be with other people even if it means she's cleaning the tub with me. ;)

    Answer by ldmrmom at 12:32 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • All the responses have been very helpful so far. Thank you soo much!!!

    Comment by JRB101009 (original poster) at 1:07 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • My son turned 2 in November and he was like that until recently. He wanted me physically with him - I couldn't even go down the hall to get the clothes out of the dryer! I think what helped him most was moving from the crib to a twin bed. He figured out he could get out of his bed and play at night - not ideal since he needed to learn to sleep in his bed (and he does now), but being in his room alone at night playing taught him to do it during the day? That's the only thing I can attribute it to, because it wasn't a gradual thing, it was like overnight!

    Answer by missanc at 1:41 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • This sounds normal. I don't think you did anything wrong - some kids just like more company than other kids. It's a personality thing. Does he need you to play with him or does he only need you near? Is there any way you could set up little play areas near the kitchen and any other room where you need to be? Maybe he'll get all excited about the new area (even with old toys/books). You can start by just sitting there watching him while he plays, and then stand up and do something on the counter for a few minutes before giving him some attention again, etc... gradually let him have more and more time by himself.

    I'm lucky to have a toddler who is pretty good at playing alone, as long as I'm within eye sight and as long as I talk to him or stop and play with him every now and then. And even then, he likes to take a truck or something else and sit near my feet and play while I'm in kitchen or something.

    Answer by Sebbiemama at 1:54 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

  • you could maybe try having him sit at the kitchen table and look at books.

    Answer by DSNMomma at 3:44 PM on Mar. 14, 2011

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