JustJacksMom's picture

Time spent playing with your only child?

I am just curious about how much time other two-parent households of onlies spend playing with their child. Our son is 3 years old and is highly energetic, intelligent, articulate, and demanding. I really struggle with knowing how much time I need to allow him to be bored and figure out something to do on his own, and how much time I spend playing with him. I don't want to do him a disservice by playing too much or too little, and I just don't know where that line is. Any feedback/insight anyone has would be awesome - thank you!!

chjmk's picture
It is a hard balance especially if you are an at-home mom. At 3, he does need space and time to explore. He will become engrossed in sorting, arranging, pretend play, and it's very healthy for him to play on his own. This is an age where preschool 2-3 days a week is very helpful, or if there are other moms you know, play dates can be fun (just keep them short and expect squabbles, lol). If there is any guilt about his being an only get rid of that feeling! I remember growing up, my mother NEVER played with me or felt sorry about it either. That was just her way of encouraging my own imagination and space. When your son wants attention, reading a book, snuggling up while he watches a short video and you read your own book, or working at a craft are all things that will give you structure.
littlekingdomchildcare's picture
I completely agree with chjmk. 3 year old kids can play on their own, make them sit and sort or arrange things. This would also help them learn and explore new things. And please don't introduce them to video games anytime soon.
Moof4boys's picture
i have four children and would love some one on one. However it was our choice to have the four obviously. My friend has one and she is constantly with her son playing his games, she doesnt get a break! I do feel for you
Pearl333's picture
I have my degree in early childhood education and personally don't think you can spend too much time with your kids. Playing with him is never too much. Every time you play he is learning and building a relationship with you. Children do need independent time but I feel less then interaction. When he wants to go play pretend on his own he will. He also doesn't have a sibling to play with so he gets his companionship from you. It would be a good idea though to take him to the park or have play dates so he can make friends his own age. Kids just play differently then adult interaction. Often times though in my class kids with no siblings transition fine in school and make friends. They are often my high students in the class as well. Not due to exploration but because of quality one on one learning with parents.
junieg's picture
As an Early Years Practitioner and Baby Massage Instructor, I couldn't agree more with that last comment. You don't 'make' them sit and do anything. Children this age learn more if they take it in, in their own way. In my workplace, we are child led. We work with the child's needs, not the adult wants. I can usually tell how much adult interaction a child gets at home, often by how advanced some parts of their development are. All children are different however. Some children love being read stories and having lots of adult company, whilst their peers very seldom ask for any adult imput. There isn't a right or a wrong and you need to be led by your child needs.
littlekingdomchildcare's picture
I too have to agree with Pearl333. Playing with parents will never be enough for an only child. But make sure that they do not become spoon feeding children who need some one everytime they want to do anything.