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Daycare Center and Family Home Forum>What Do You Do With A Child Who Doesn't Like To Play Toys?
Indoorvoice 06:52 AM 09-18-2018
I have an 18mo dcb who just doesn't know how to play. Normally it doesn't bother me if a child chooses not to do anything during free choice, but this one just sits and pouts and sniffles, and/or cries the whole time. The only time he is ever happy is if he's eating or were outside. We can't go outside right now because the mosquitos are brutal even with bug spray on. He started taking to just sitting on my couch and doing nothing for a while. There was no TV on or anything, just sitting on the couch staring at the wall. After a while, he started crying while sitting too, so I've been not letting him on the couch and directing him to go play toys. That makes him furious and he screams and yells at me while reluctantly walking over to find a toy. He will go find a block and then just sit with it in his hands crying softly. I've tried getting on the floor with him to see if hell interact with me. I've tried showing him what to do with the toys. I've tried taking out new toys that haven't been in the rotation for a while. I've tried completely ignoring, but he's so behind I feel I can't do this everyday. I've tried giving positive attention the kids playing nicely. Even during small group activities, he will not participate. We were painting yesterday as a group and he just sat with the paintbrush in his hand the whole time. I tried hand over hand and he pulled away and started crying. Mom reports the same at home. She says he's very stubborn and wants everyone to do things for him and a lot of times she has to give in just to get on to the next thing. He seems intelligent and understands a lot of what I say, but expresses very little. I have maybe 3 words. Mom gets 5 words consistently. Any insights or suggestions?
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Cat Herder 06:57 AM 09-18-2018
What do you do for any other tantrum?
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Indoorvoice 07:08 AM 09-18-2018
Originally Posted by Cat Herder:
What do you do for any other tantrum?
I acknowledge and verbalize what they're upset about and move along telling them they can join us when they're ready. But he would never join us then I think just my presence and the fact he has to do things here is what's upsetting to him. I think. Is it OK to just keep moving along without him and letting him just sit all day? With supervision of course.
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Blackcat31 07:11 AM 09-18-2018
Originally Posted by Indoorvoice:
I acknowledge and verbalize what they're upset about and move along telling them they can join us when they're ready. But he would never join us then I think just my presence and the fact he has to do things here is what's upsetting to him. I think. Is it OK to just keep moving along without him and letting him just sit all day? With supervision of course.
You aren't forcing him to sit.
He is choosing to.
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Cat Herder 07:39 AM 09-18-2018
The more attention he gets from this behavior, the longer he will continue it. I would not let him sit on the couch, away from the group, though. If it is center or free play time, he can go pout in books or soft seating. Like everyone else. Those are designated pouting spaces.
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Cat Herder 07:50 AM 09-18-2018
I once had a group of all 3-4-year-old girls. I barely survived.

I put pop tents in each corner so they could get away from one another when the fighting began. Their own personal decompression chambers. It saved our summer.

Get creative.
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Unregistered 12:05 PM 09-18-2018
I have one like this. She does play more now, she's been here 8 months, but mostly she imitates what the other children are doing or lays around. Very little independent initiative. Before coming here she watched a lot of tv (still does at home) and we thought that might be the cause, but with only slight change in 8 months I think it's also just her personality.

I am going to suggest to her mother that she move to a daycare with more kids her age ... at least that way she'll be imitating peers and not babies (she's 2 1/2 now).
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kendallina 12:17 PM 09-18-2018
He's behind developmentally?

In my experience there are two reasons why a child doesn't play. The first is because parents do EVERYTHING for them at home, including playing for and with them all.the.time.

The second reason that I've seen is because they have developmental issues. I currently have an almost 4-year old who had been with me for a year who sounds a lot like your little guy. This almost 4-year old will not play unless told to, won't get off his napmat until he's 'invited' (seriously, he's laid there awake while everyone's played around him for 45 minutes until my stubbornness wore off and I invited him to clean up and play). My little guy has tantrums if you say his name/don't straighten his underwear for him to put on, ask him to stop doing something, etc etc etc. He also can't cross his midline, can't rub his hands together while washing them, is speech delayed (is getting better), very behind with fine motor, etc etc. His parents have recently come to terms with him being behind and are getting him tested.

For the first kind of child, I'd make things in the classroom very exciting and fun and ignore any pouts/little cries/etc. Maybe I'd occassionally invite him to come play. A child who is developing normally will come play.

For the second kind of child, they need more help. It's not their fault. Things are often confusing for them. Even when do they play toys, they play them differently then other children. If they're sitting there holding a paintbrush not doing anything, they're probably not ready for that activity. For my little guy it's worked well to have a lot of patience with him (I don't show him my frustration, he can't handle it), be a lot of fun, try to engage in some way. I have a very very good relationship with him and I think that's part of the reason he's made so much progress while he's been here.

That's just my experience, not sure if it helps!
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Indoorvoice 06:26 PM 09-18-2018
Originally Posted by kendallina:
He's behind developmentally?

In my experience there are two reasons why a child doesn't play. The first is because parents do EVERYTHING for them at home, including playing for and with them all.the.time.

The second reason that I've seen is because they have developmental issues. I currently have an almost 4-year old who had been with me for a year who sounds a lot like your little guy. This almost 4-year old will not play unless told to, won't get off his napmat until he's 'invited' (seriously, he's laid there awake while everyone's played around him for 45 minutes until my stubbornness wore off and I invited him to clean up and play). My little guy has tantrums if you say his name/don't straighten his underwear for him to put on, ask him to stop doing something, etc etc etc. He also can't cross his midline, can't rub his hands together while washing them, is speech delayed (is getting better), very behind with fine motor, etc etc. His parents have recently come to terms with him being behind and are getting him tested.

For the first kind of child, I'd make things in the classroom very exciting and fun and ignore any pouts/little cries/etc. Maybe I'd occassionally invite him to come play. A child who is developing normally will come play.

For the second kind of child, they need more help. It's not their fault. Things are often confusing for them. Even when do they play toys, they play them differently then other children. If they're sitting there holding a paintbrush not doing anything, they're probably not ready for that activity. For my little guy it's worked well to have a lot of patience with him (I don't show him my frustration, he can't handle it), be a lot of fun, try to engage in some way. I have a very very good relationship with him and I think that's part of the reason he's made so much progress while he's been here.

That's just my experience, not sure if it helps!
It does help, thanks! My little guy sounds just like your second example, HOWEVER I think he is a bit coddled at home at well. He is the the baby of the family and only boy and he is just never allowed to feel tough feelings or basically be expected to do anything. But he's still so young and it's just so hard to tell what's going on. I think where I'm stuck is that I can't decide if I should give him some tough love because he's just a bit spoiled, or if I need to be more tender and understanding because he's a bit behind. It's kind of hard to be both and there is possibly a bit both going on here!
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kendallina 08:10 PM 09-18-2018
Originally Posted by Indoorvoice:
It does help, thanks! My little guy sounds just like your second example, HOWEVER I think he is a bit coddled at home at well. He is the the baby of the family and only boy and he is just never allowed to feel tough feelings or basically be expected to do anything. But he's still so young and it's just so hard to tell what's going on. I think where I'm stuck is that I can't decide if I should give him some tough love because he's just a bit spoiled, or if I need to be more tender and understanding because he's a bit behind. It's kind of hard to be both and there is possibly a bit both going on here!
Yes!! My little guy is a bit coddled too. He has two much older siblings who babysit him a LOT. And for the first 6 months he was here I thought a lot of his behavior was mostly due to him being coddled. But, now I can see that his parents have not really coddled him (older sibs have), but his parents see that he can't do sooo much because of his development. And I think they struggle with how much to expect of him.

And YES, 100% on never being allowed to have negative feelings! Holy cow-same thing here. Mom shuts him down if he starts in on negative things. There's been several times that (now that his language is improving) he has said, "so-and-so hit me" and she'll say, "no, no he didn't do that". And I'll correct her, No, your son is right, he did do that. And it hurt...we did this to feel better...etc etc. She absolutely does not want him to bring up bad things. This happens all the time.
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Tags:consistency, cry corner, go play toys, quiet boxes, soft seating, tantrums, tents, won't play
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