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Old 07-13-2017, 07:09 AM
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Default How To Handle This?

I have a child who cannot play. I take part timers so they spend a LOT of time being directed and played with by adults. Some of them start playing while here and some of them just cannot handle being told to "go play" at all.

This one child will dissolve into tears and lie on the ground. He is 2.5 years old with very little language. As long as I am engaged with him he is fine but as soon as I stop he gets upset. How would you handle this?
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Old 07-13-2017, 07:28 AM
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Have you tried being very specific as to what he needs to do for play? Like "go play with the blocks." I have a dcb who's a screen addict and he's struggled SO much with playing independently. I had to do specifics for a while and even then, had to think of ways to challenge him to change his play. Like with the blocks, he'd go and build the same tower over and over. So then I would say "go build me a tower using only green and purple blocks." Now at 4.5 he does ok but still will get into ruts occasionally. But I can at least say "go play" without the tears, meltdowns etc. Took a while though, really we've been working on it for years.
Typically the crying etc I ignored for just whimpering and whining but full on screaming, kicking, throwing himself on the floor etc he's gotten put down for a nap. Now that he's older if he starts whimpering at all I remind him that behavior gets him put down for a nap and he stops. Good luck! It's tough...I've never seen a kid so incapable of playing before and it seems to be getting more common.
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Old 07-13-2017, 07:40 AM
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Thank you! I definitely tell him to do specific things and he will go and do them for a few seconds and then come looking for me. Unless I am right there watching him do it he gets upset. I put him down for nap this morning just so I could change diapers and set up my art activity. I went and got him a few minutes later and he has been fine ever since.

Maybe the nap tactic is the way to go here.
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Old 07-13-2017, 09:45 AM
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Maybe a picture schedule? http://www.pre-kpages.com/picture-schedule-cards/ http://www.pictureschedule.com/index.html

Sometimes they lack vision to see everything that is right in front of them. Much like my sons and the refrigerator this summer...
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Old 07-13-2017, 09:46 AM
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How about giving him a single option that doesn't require you to direct him verbally?

Try a few days where you set him up in a play yard alone, with a single complex activity like Duplos or a play kitchen. If he eventually settles in to play, keep an eye on him; as soon as he starts getting bored, open the gate so he can choose to go play in the main play area.

I don't have a fast fix for you. I don't think fast fixes really exist when it's an ingrained behavior. Sometimes, when we change our tactics, it startles the child into modifying the negative behavior, but long-term change requires long-term effort.
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Old 07-13-2017, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Herder View Post
Maybe a picture schedule? http://www.pre-kpages.com/picture-schedule-cards/ http://www.pictureschedule.com/index.html

Sometimes they lack vision to see everything that is right in front of them. Much like my sons and the refrigerator this summer...
I have used these before, especially with special needs children, so it might be very useful! Thanks
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Old 07-13-2017, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Pestle View Post
How about giving him a single option that doesn't require you to direct him verbally?

Try a few days where you set him up in a play yard alone, with a single complex activity like Duplos or a play kitchen. If he eventually settles in to play, keep an eye on him; as soon as he starts getting bored, open the gate so he can choose to go play in the main play area.

I don't have a fast fix for you. I don't think fast fixes really exist when it's an ingrained behavior. Sometimes, when we change our tactics, it startles the child into modifying the negative behavior, but long-term change requires long-term effort.
I don't have a play yard but he seems to only engage in one activity which is cars. Cars are located downstairs and when we are in my upstairs play area is when he has problems. I just don't want to cater to his very limited play repertoire.

He is acting very much like another child I had who I suspected had ASD. This child is much more social however so I am not convinced this is his issue. His 16 month old brother only plays with trains but is able to adapt when trains are not available because he is still in the exploring phase.

Today while outside he held his hands over his eyes/ears and just walked around the yard. Then eventually started crying, wanting to come inside. At this point I feel like management is the obly thing I can do with the behavior.
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Old 07-13-2017, 11:12 AM
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I have had a few kids over the years who didn't really "play". What worked for them was to have a task to complete. I'd give them jobs like: use a wet cloth to scrub the paint easel, sort a container of beads by color, etc. They thrived on this.
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Old 07-13-2017, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Rockgirl View Post
I have had a few kids over the years who didn't really "play". What worked for them was to have a task to complete. I'd give them jobs like: use a wet cloth to scrub the paint easel, sort a container of beads by color, etc. They thrived on this.
Will try this too!
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariana View Post
I don't have a play yard but he seems to only engage in one activity which is cars. Cars are located downstairs and when we are in my upstairs play area is when he has problems. I just don't want to cater to his very limited play repertoire.
You might be working against yourself here, though. You're fighting him on TWO counts--first, that you want him to play and he doesn't want to play, and second, that you want him to play with something other than cars and he doesn't want to play with something other than cars.

I would try to break the problem down into easier-to-tackle components. I'd bring a few cars upstairs and put them into a section of the space just for him. That way, I'd be under less stress as soon as he started focusing on the cars. I wouldn't try pushing him to play with other toys until he was playing comfortably and reliably with the toys he currently prefers. One step at a time.

Sometimes I draw a line; other times, I decide my quality of life is more important than having my way.
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:10 AM
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Thanks for asking this one of my new little ones struggles with this too. He seems happiest when he is able to be a helper but that can wear on me. Will use some of the tools mentioned and know you are not alone OP!
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Old 07-15-2017, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Pestle View Post
You might be working against yourself here, though. You're fighting him on TWO counts--first, that you want him to play and he doesn't want to play, and second, that you want him to play with something other than cars and he doesn't want to play with something other than cars.

I would try to break the problem down into easier-to-tackle components. I'd bring a few cars upstairs and put them into a section of the space just for him. That way, I'd be under less stress as soon as he started focusing on the cars. I wouldn't try pushing him to play with other toys until he was playing comfortably and reliably with the toys he currently prefers. One step at a time.

Sometimes I draw a line; other times, I decide my quality of life is more important than having my way.
I guess the problem is that my upstairs playroom is not for "busy" toys because it is not a big area. I don't want to bring the cars upstairs. I catered to his car fetish before and he just ends up driving his cars on everything. Right now for example he will take the calico critters stroller, that has WHEELS and will just drive it around staring at the wheels.

To say he "plays" with cars is kind of the wrong wording!
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Old 07-16-2017, 08:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ariana View Post
he will take the calico critters stroller, that has WHEELS and will just drive it around staring at the wheels.

To say he "plays" with cars is kind of the wrong wording!
But what's actually wrong with that, Ariana?

And, are you expecting to be able to force him to play the way the other children do?

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Originally Posted by Ariana View Post
I catered to his car fetish before and he just ends up driving his cars on everything.
So what? You're letting his unorthodox style of play make you miserable, and by fighting him, you're making him miserable, so he in turn makes you more miserable.

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Originally Posted by Ariana View Post
I guess the problem is that my upstairs playroom is not for "busy" toys because it is not a big area. I don't want to bring the cars upstairs.
It sounds like this child might need a program with more flexibility so his developmental issues can be addressed. I'm seeing some resentment toward this child in what you're saying. I don't know if his needs can be met and your happiness can thrive the way things are going right now.
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Old 07-16-2017, 03:32 PM
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I'd agree with the idea to give him jobs he can do to help you.

It might also help to put something really appealing right next to where you are for a while--a sensory bin, for example.

But I think your best bet is to build on the car play, since it is the play he chooses. If you want it to be smaller-scale upstairs, maybe matchbox cars or little trucks in a big bin with sand or pebbles or ramps. Or maybe a tape or paper roadway where it's ok to drive. Maybe, since he likes to watch the wheels turn, there's some way he could explore that aspect--wheels attached to a board, a gears set, a wagon or trike flipped upside down. Maybe he'd be attracted to other rolling things--ramps with balls? Maybe he'd like painting with car wheels, or making tracks in playdoh? Might lead to further exploration with those materials (or might not, which is ok, too.) I once had a similar kid. I put out blocks with wooden napkin rings, and he enjoyed building cars with cylinder "axles" and napkin-ring "wheels." You might consider pulling out every wheely thing you have (calico critter stroller, cars, what else?) and putting them in one spot (a big bin? a table with a lip? a rug surrounded by block walls?) where you feel ok with him exploring, and observe for a while to see what it is he's doing exactly...what seems to be the appeal...it might give you ideas for what else he'd like to do with that idea.

He's still very young. He can re-learn how to play on his own.
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Old 07-16-2017, 03:36 PM
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Also...another thing to try. You can build up his endurance. Play with him, then have some chore you need to attend to for two minutes: "I've got to go stir the soup. I'll be right back!" Go, and come right back. Play a bit, then have a longer task you need to attend to, but come right back as promised. Over time, you can increase the time, and he'll start to trust that you haven't abandoned him (and in that trust, he should be able to relax enough to play).
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Old 07-16-2017, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Pestle View Post
But what's actually wrong with that, Ariana?

And, are you expecting to be able to force him to play the way the other children do?

So what? You're letting his unorthodox style of play make you miserable, and by fighting him, you're making him miserable, so he in turn makes you more miserable.

It sounds like this child might need a program with more flexibility so his developmental issues can be addressed. I'm seeing some resentment toward this child in what you're saying. I don't know if his needs can be met and your happiness can thrive the way things are going right now.
I have no resentment towards this child, I am simply looking for suggestions that match his developmental level. I think we are getting way off track. My original question is what to do when he dissolves into tears when I leave him to play on his own. I am fine with him rolling his cars around and around but even he gets bored with that because its not actual playing. He rolls the stroller around the dollhouse and the other children get upset with him.

I have all sorts of wheels, gears etc. He has no clue how to play with those things. I show him and he watches and then goes back to rolling his car on the ground. I have a large road play mat, parking garage, race track with bridge and he does not play with any of it. He just lies on the ground rolling his car back and forth. Some of the suggestions here are no where near his developmental level. He does not play with duplo or blocks no matter how many times we have played with them together! If I am not right there attending to him he either dissolves into tears (not ok with that) or rolls his car on the ground (made my peace with that when cars are available). I am not bringing cars upstairs. I would prefer a child to learn developmentally appropriate styles of play. He is here to have different experiences and learn new things. He is already being catered to at home.

How is this any different from teaching a child to sleep appropriately by weaning them off the crutches the parents have set up? I am trying to expand this childs play repertoire but his development is below where it should be in my opinion and his lack of language makes it hard for him to interact with peers. I have already expanded his vocabulary by about 100 words just in the few months he has been here. My goal is to enrich his life.

I will try some of the ideas given here this week and see how it goes
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