icon-arrow-down icon icon-arrow-fill-down icon icon-arrow-next icon icon-arrow-prev icon icon-tag-close icon
Explaining why a parent can't play all day
Q: How do I explain to my 4½-year-old son that I cannot play with him all day long? He doesn't care that I have “mummy work” to do. I am a new stay-at-home mum with a 2½-month-old baby and 4½-year-old son. We have stopped our son's pre-K so I can teach him at home.

A: That explanation will require many patient repetitions. You can’t expect him to get the idea all at once. Chances are he is feeling some jealousy about the new baby, and that probably increases his need to have you play with him. It is especially important during this period that you find time to do special things with him and not simply put him off all the time. Right now, he probably needs reassurance that he is still important to you as much as he needs you to play with him. He will soon get used to the routine of caring required by a new baby and will let up on his demands. And find ways to praise him for being a big boy. Say things like, “I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t so big and so able to do things for yourself these days.”

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education