Son Won't Entertain Himself

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Making Time for Play

Once dinner is over, make real time to play with him. Give him a specific duration -- 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or one hour -- for play and allow him to choose the activity. Then set a timer and have fun. During this time reverse roles from the dinner-making activity. Let him be the boss. He'll make the rules, and it will be up to you to follow him as best you can. Whether it's building a block house, playing with cars, or coloring, keep the activity light and don't make it a competition. Remember, this is his time to shine, so let him. By allowing your son to run the show (so to speak) for this set time period, he will feel confident and in control. And by maintaining your attention in this positive way, he'll be less inclined to act out or behave aggressively towards his sister -- negative behaviors he used in the past to gain your attention. When the timer goes off, he'll probably go and play on his own; or if you say, "Now it's time to feed the dog," he'll most likely comply. However, if he begs for more time with you, be clear that his time is up, and that you need to tend to other household business. This is a positive, proactive method for combating I-can't-entertain-myself syndrome. Eventually, he will learn to entertain himself. This is one of the endless paradoxes in parenting.


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