Our daughter has a problem with playing by herself. She always needs someone to play with her and if you don’t, she will scream and cry. How can I get her to play by herself at least once in a while?
You don’t mention your daughter’s age, and age can make a big difference in this kind of situation. But let’s assume that she is in the 2- to 4-year age range. I would approach your goal of getting her to play by herself once in a while with the help of two T’s: Toys and Time. She undoubtedly has some toys that are fragile or easily damaged. Little china dishes, a very special doll, or a tape/CD player (some of your own not-too-valuable jewelry would also be an excellent choice). Let her play with one of them in your vicinity and say something like, “Your dishes are very special; they were mine when I was a little girl. I wouldn’t want you to use them when your friends are here, as they might get broken. You can stay right here and play with them for a while.” That is one approach that usually helps. The second is to make little time bargains with her, at first very brief but gradually getting longer: “mummy needs to talk to Grandma on the phone just now. You play by yourself for a little while, and then I’ll read you a story.” Start by requesting just 10 or 15 minutes and gradually lengthen the expected time for self-directed play.
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.