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Old 12-03-2014, 11:28 AM
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Default Do Your Kids Play?

Is it just me, or do you find that a lot of kids don't know how to play? I feel like I've had the same problem repeatedly with the last few families I've taken care of. I spend the first month or so trying to teach the children how to entertain themselves with the toys. I have to say, "Go play" many times each day. I feel like all I do is redirect kids back to the toys. If I sit in the floor to play with them, everyone is happy. But self-directed play is severely lacking. And most babies cry to be held constantly. I have a 3 month old so I understand wanting to hold & cuddle them. I spend a lot of time playing with my kids & giving them undivided attention, but when its time to make dinner & clean up, etc., my kids are expected to entertain themselves for a while. Even my three month old plays happily on a blanket nearby while I work. I don't understand how parents get anything done. One little lady I care for (9 mo) cries a hard cry anytime I'm not focusing on her. I get up to change a diaper...crying. I get up to help another child...crying. And I don't have the time or the patience to entertain her all day so there is a whole lot of crying. My poor nerves. Lol What are your thoughts? Is it just a coincidence that I've run into this repeatedly, or is it the style of parenting? When I was a kid no one taught you to play. It was just something you did. Maybe the wide use of television at home causes them to be bored here since I rarely turn it on? I don't know. Just curious if anyone else struggles with this too.
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Old 12-03-2014, 11:54 AM
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I absolutely struggle with it as well. No matter how hard I screen at interview. I find that the kids who DO play, play limited versions of TV shows. They also need a TON of attention when doing so. "LOOK AT ME. I AM _______!!"

I do a LOT of modeling play. A LOT. Then I step back, watch how it goes and intervene when they start to leave to get them reinterested. I have had moderate success with a few of my kids. The rest, even after months and months----nothing.
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Old 12-03-2014, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daycarediva View Post
I absolutely struggle with it as well. No matter how hard I screen at interview. I find that the kids who DO play, play limited versions of TV shows. They also need a TON of attention when doing so. "LOOK AT ME. I AM _______!!"

I do a LOT of modeling play. A LOT. Then I step back, watch how it goes and intervene when they start to leave to get them reinterested. I have had moderate success with a few of my kids. The rest, even after months and months----nothing.
It is a self-indulged generation right now, but if your look around, we have a generation of adults this way as well!
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Old 12-04-2014, 05:13 AM
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I have one who I call my "shuffler" because he just shuffles from other kids' plans. He almost never initiates play on his own. Too much TV, too much time on DCM's iPhone, too much DCPs hovering over him, too few toys that actually require imagination.
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Old 12-04-2014, 06:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daycarediva View Post
I absolutely struggle with it as well. No matter how hard I screen at interview. I find that the kids who DO play, play limited versions of TV shows. They also need a TON of attention when doing so. "LOOK AT ME. I AM _______!!"

I do a LOT of modeling play. A LOT. Then I step back, watch how it goes and intervene when they start to leave to get them reinterested. I have had moderate success with a few of my kids. The rest, even after months and months----nothing.
Same as this. When they tell me look at me I never look. If they want to show me something they have to say, "May I please show you something?" and then I will look. If they say, "I built a tower!!!" I will say, "You built a tower!" if they don't say anything and just show me a car they are playing with (this, strangely, happens so often) I will say, "A car!" My kids are all 2.5-almost 5 here right now.

I do take a bigger step back after I see that they CAN play and are just choosing not to. I also try to rotate toys frequently to keep their interest. We never do TV here.
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Old 12-04-2014, 08:27 AM
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It's almost like we have to rewire their brains to become creative with play. The hovering stifles the creativity, as well as other things.
Too bad some of parents don't understand this part of parenting.

I do what daycarediva does, start the activity or toy getting them involved, then step back. When they start to get bored, either show them another aspect of the toy for play, while asking questions directed to what we are doing, or start with a new activity or toy. I like to consider it planting the seeds into their brains, and watching them grow with it, while guiding them....they eventually get it.
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Old 12-04-2014, 08:28 AM
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Mine do play. A lot. I have the daycare set up so it is pretty much all imaginative play and also things like a balance beam, stepping stones, slide, cones to run around. Everything isn't all set out at once, but I do set it up quite a bit.

I have very few electronic toys or things that make noise. I think that helps. Everyone adores the ball pit, but it's a commitment. I chase around balls all day. I don't mind. I have a few who go in there and read .
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Old 12-04-2014, 08:30 AM
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Kids do not know how to play nowadays because they expect the toys to 'do something'. Many kids from infancy are given their parents' cell phone to occupy themselves. From infancy, kids are taught that they just sit there, holding an item, pushing a button or two and the item is coming to life to entertain them. So, when they are given non-technical toys such as blocks, baby dolls, cars, etc. The child can't figure out why the toy isn't doing something to excite them!

Parents do not sit with their child and play with them. They don't teach children to take the little plastic man and make him walk to the doll house, make him 'talk' to the little plastic woman in the house. They do not sit with their child and build a house out of Legos, they don't do anything with their children to teach them how to pretend. So their kids don't know how to play and pretend. They just know how to hold an item, push buttons, and wait for the item to entertain them.
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:24 AM
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Here's my concern:

It has been found through researching and interviewing murderers that pretty much every murderer did not play as a child. It is a characteristic of murderers to not have pretended/played 'free play' as a child. So, since so many children nowadays do not pretend or creatively play 'free play', how many more murderers are being created?
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:25 AM
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I have a 2 yo dcg whose first words to me every morning are "B, can I watch a movie?"

And every morning I tell her in front of DCD that we don't watch movies here. He just tells her she can wait til she gets home
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:26 AM
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Oh, I didn't answer the question

Yes, mine play, but only after hearing "Go play toys" about a million times. Lately they've been really bad about crowding me all day long.
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Old 12-04-2014, 09:50 AM
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I interview to find families with limited or no tv time at home and a hatred of battery toys just like I have. My kids all play and play well. It took two years to weed out all the non-players but I have a great group now that can play and play and play.

I ask point blank if a prospective family watches tv (and how much) or owns battery toys as well as asking (grilling) them about hobbies, interests, family time, vacation time and free time activities. If they love to garden, hike, camp, craft and go to the park they will fit in nicely. If they like 5 star hotels with built in babysitters, indoor playgrounds, 5 baby and mommy classes per week and have a tv in every room they won't.

Disclaimer: I'm not against tv. I am against how it has gone from something to do (among many other things to do) to a focal point in the home where family time starts and ends. TV's in every room and always on "for background noise" are big problems for me when it comes to imaginative, interactive children.
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Old 12-04-2014, 11:03 AM
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I don't have my own daycare yet (I am waiting until we have baby #2), but I nanny and have nannied for many years.
Most of the families I have cared for over the years have had strict electronic time rules. The kids rarely watched tv, etc.... They didn't/don't know how to play! BUT.... Their schedules didn't allow for any downtime. Since a young age, they have had a constant nanny companion, classes, or play dates non stop. One girl, age 7, actually said to me (when I said find something to do, on a 12 hour stuck in the house snow day), "I don't know what to do!!!" and she was all flustered. I had to 100% entertain her and was expected to do so, because I was being paid....

Now I have my own child, who is 4. His friends (at the age of 4) are running from one activity to another. I believe in balance. He takes swim (on top of preschool) and may take another activity, but I don't feel the need to have him in a fancy camp, or an abundance of classes. One of his friends moms just asked me how I deal with the, "I am bored stage". Honestly, my child has never said he is bored. That may happen when he enters school, but he doesn't even know what the word means.
Don't get me wrong, he can get rambunctious and drive me a bit crazy at times, but he doesn't expect me to entertain him every two seconds.

I think that is part of the problem..... Free play has gone out the window.
I just read an article about play dates..... How play dates used to be a time for parents to catch up, while the kids played. Now, there is an expectation of some sort of entertainment, whether decorating cookies, an art and craft, etc....

I definitely see that where I live.

Here is an example of something that just happened to me....

I had my friend over with her 3 children. The twins were 5 years old. I have one child, who is 4. We stayed in the playroom with the kids (as she has a little one also) My child played and I didn't hear a peep from him. We have a large loft climber that the kids enjoy. My friend's daughter insisted her mother climb into this loft and have a tea party. And the mother did it. We couldn't even have a conversation. Well, the mother was trying, by sticking her head out of the loft. Now.... If it was me.... I would have told my child... I am talking with my friend, you have your friends, now go play. But.. I see this a lot. At least I can relax while my son is with his friends.
Another mom came over and said to me that she couldn't believe another mother tells her child to, "go play". She said, "I would never do that, I like to be hands on". But..... This mother also sends her children to an all day childcare facility, so she is only with them on the weekends/evenings. Don't get me wrong, I love playing with my child, but not every single minute.....

I do believe kids are growing up to expect instant gratification....
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Old 12-04-2014, 01:42 PM
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I agree with Lawson!

None of my families do a ton of TV. Some nearly none at all. The kids I have had who wouldn't play were only children whose moms spent a ton of time with them, did lots of classes, and did not expect their kids to play alone. These kids also had the least self help skills, could not put on their own clothing without help, and had "I can't" attitudes. But they were very verbal and great eaters, since the worried moms always served healthy, organic whole foods!
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Old 12-04-2014, 02:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lawson2 View Post
I don't have my own daycare yet (I am waiting until we have baby #2), but I nanny and have nannied for many years.
Most of the families I have cared for over the years have had strict electronic time rules. The kids rarely watched tv, etc.... They didn't/don't know how to play! BUT.... Their schedules didn't allow for any downtime. Since a young age, they have had a constant nanny companion, classes, or play dates non stop. One girl, age 7, actually said to me (when I said find something to do, on a 12 hour stuck in the house snow day), "I don't know what to do!!!" and she was all flustered. I had to 100% entertain her and was expected to do so, because I was being paid....

Now I have my own child, who is 4. His friends (at the age of 4) are running from one activity to another. I believe in balance. He takes swim (on top of preschool) and may take another activity, but I don't feel the need to have him in a fancy camp, or an abundance of classes. One of his friends moms just asked me how I deal with the, "I am bored stage". Honestly, my child has never said he is bored. That may happen when he enters school, but he doesn't even know what the word means.
Don't get me wrong, he can get rambunctious and drive me a bit crazy at times, but he doesn't expect me to entertain him every two seconds.

I think that is part of the problem..... Free play has gone out the window.
I just read an article about play dates..... How play dates used to be a time for parents to catch up, while the kids played. Now, there is an expectation of some sort of entertainment, whether decorating cookies, an art and craft, etc....

I definitely see that where I live.

Here is an example of something that just happened to me....

I had my friend over with her 3 children. The twins were 5 years old. I have one child, who is 4. We stayed in the playroom with the kids (as she has a little one also) My child played and I didn't hear a peep from him. We have a large loft climber that the kids enjoy. My friend's daughter insisted her mother climb into this loft and have a tea party. And the mother did it. We couldn't even have a conversation. Well, the mother was trying, by sticking her head out of the loft. Now.... If it was me.... I would have told my child... I am talking with my friend, you have your friends, now go play. But.. I see this a lot. At least I can relax while my son is with his friends.
Another mom came over and said to me that she couldn't believe another mother tells her child to, "go play". She said, "I would never do that, I like to be hands on". But..... This mother also sends her children to an all day childcare facility, so she is only with them on the weekends/evenings. Don't get me wrong, I love playing with my child, but not every single minute.....

I do believe kids are growing up to expect instant gratification....
YES!

My sister and I have 8 kids between us. They are mostly grown now, but I remember a few years ago, we were sitting in the living room talking, and she suddenly said "Do you realize, we have SIX children in this house?"

They were all (voluntarily) split up in the bedrooms PLAYING. The youngest one was 2 or so.

I can hardly go to the bathroom here. My kiddos engage for a few minutes here or there, but there is constant redirection needed. It's tricky to supervise them and still step back so that they CAN play without adult interruption. This morning, I watched them on the video monitor and they actually played for a good 20 minutes. I even saw some cooperative play. They are 4 kiddos, 15m-23m old.
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Old 12-05-2014, 06:59 AM
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When I was doing daycare I noticed this quite a bit. I think it is because kids are too hovered and have too much structure play/tv. The problem with daycare play is that whenever I'd try to let them just free play, one of them would always get into something bad or push or bite or whatever. So the only way to avoid problems was to have a very structured day moving from one activity to the next. Very tiring. ...I think it's normal to play as a character of TV shows though. I spent alot of time as HE-MAN and the Hulk when I was a kid.
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:23 AM
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I have also found that little ones don't know how to "play". It seems that they are getting constant undivided attention from their parents. With my own children, I bought them educational toys, I showed them how to use them, and played with them. BUT, if I needed to get things done then they knew I expected them to play and entertain themselves. I taught them how to do this. It saves your sanity! I know all children are different, so I don't expect the same thing out of each one but it's still best to teach them these skills.

My DC kids are all only children, so they do get extra attention it seems. I have a 2 1/2 yr old that is constantly saying "look at (this or that)"! I get the impression they must praise every little thing he does. And my 18 month old girl would rather just sit on your lap and do nothing just to get attention rather than play. I know for a fact the she is not starved for attention. This DCM has told me multiple times "I just want her happy" so this little girl basically gets everything she wants. I feel bad because I feel like I'm the one who has to give them tough love. I'm constantly telling all the kids to go play. I try to be honest with the parents and let them know what how their child's day went and what would help make their child happier here in hopes that they will make some changes. It's really difficult and it feels like you are fighting an uphill battle.
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Old 12-05-2014, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by preschoolteacher View Post
I agree with Lawson!

None of my families do a ton of TV. Some nearly none at all. The kids I have had who wouldn't play were only children whose moms spent a ton of time with them, did lots of classes, and did not expect their kids to play alone. These kids also had the least self help skills, could not put on their own clothing without help, and had "I can't" attitudes. But they were very verbal and great eaters, since the worried moms always served healthy, organic whole foods!
I've had these families too. The moms wear their children's helplessness like a badge of good motherhood. If your child is still in a crib at three, still breastfeeds at three, or drinks a warm bottle of milk before bed, doesn't know how to push an arm through a sleeve, etc., it is because you are an awesome parent who sacrifices all to make it right for your child
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