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How can I get my toddler to play by herself?

How can I get my toddler to play by herself? I give her the attention that she needs, but she wants it ALL the time, which is not possible (and not good!). Help!

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How much attention do you actually give her, and of what type? Is she in preschool or does she have any other opportunities to socialize with children her own age?

Without knowing specifics of your situation, here's a few things you can try:

~ Set a timer for a short amount of time (ten minutes or so) and tell her she must play by herself until it goes off. Gradually increase the time (best done over the span of several weeks) until she is able to play by herself for longer periods of time.

~ Spending time with her doesn't have to always be playtime. Encourage her to help you with things you have to do! (Don't expect it to be perfect.)

~ Find another child of a similar age and arrange a play date or trade child care slots with another mom (take turns watching both children so one parent has time alone).

~ Buy a few toys that you set aside for 'play alone time' only. Make sure they are age appropriate and will hold her interest, but bring them out only for limited periods. The fact that they seem 'new' each time will tend to occupy her for longer periods and allow you to have a breather.

Good luck!

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Thank you for sharing these ideas!  My daughter is 22 months old, so she might be a bit too young for the timer, but that's a good one I'll keep in mind for later.  She attends daycare 3 days a week, and I take her to playdates/outside activities on the other days (among trips out getting errands done).  I realize that I've probably established this behavior by giving her too much consistent attention (I think I did so because I enjoy her company when it's just the 2 of us during the day!) and we're now into a bad habit.  Any advice for a young child?  It's gotten a little better as I've made more of an effort to stick to what I'm doing (when she wants to paly), even if it results in a small tantrum.  Rotating toys each week has also helped to keep her interested longer.  Thanks!

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