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My four year old son pretty much doesn't play. I mean, he will usually when he has another child to play with but overall, throughout the week he doesn't play.

It's driving me crazy because he seems 'bored' and he pesters me constantly. He spends most of the day bouncing between our two sofas. This seems to be what he does for fun.

He doesn't have any special needs, he just doesn't seem to know how to play.

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3 Answers 3

Sounds like he's a social kid with a lot of energy. How often does he go out to see other kids? How often does he get outside? My almost-three year old does play with toys, but he's honestly happier 'bouncing around' or outdoors. Kids are unique, and some tend more towards imaginative play with toys, while some tend towards social play.

Overall, it sounds like your particular child needs more social attention, whether it's from you or from others. Get him into playgroups, have friends over, etc, when you can.

During times when he's required to be alone in the house, like when you need to cook/clean/whatever, consider getting him to do activities that he can do with you. If you're loading the dishwasher, he can probably help - my oldest has been loading the dishwasher since he was 2 (with all glass/porcelain dishes). If you're cooking, he can help mix the dough or sauce.

If you're doing something he can't participate in, consider activities that allow him to be near you and allow you to talk to him. Maybe he can do play-doh or color at the kitchen table; you can talk to him while you work about what he's doing. You may have to work with him more directly at first - get him to think of the activity as a social activity. By four, he probably can "read" books to you, at least ones that he's memorized; ask him to do that out loud.

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OP situation sounds like my 4yo son, and I'd have given pretty much the same response. I'm trying to think of anything to add but this covers it well! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Apr 16 at 11:44

It is hard to tell from the little information. There can be several reasons for this:

  • Your son did not have enough chances to experience social interaction to learn the fun or had several rather traumatic (from the perspective of a child) experiences. You might want to talk to him and try to figure out what really bothers him. If he just doesn't value it, or if there is something he is afraid of.

  • If he constantly repeats the same trivial action, this could be a hint for a minor autism. Kids who have this "alternate point of view" focus much more on a few things while ignoring other common things you would expect a child at that age to find entertaining. You can check with a doctor to test him. If this is really the cause, then there is no need to worry about, because if you haven't noticed that on your own, then the autism is so minor, that it will only have minor effects on the development of your child. However it is good to know, so you can support him properly.

  • Too much TV (no clue if this has any relation to your case). Watching too much TV dulls out the mind and fails to stimulate that part of the brain that is required to generate ideas on how to entertain yourself (aka creativity). A kid that spends too much time in front of the TV will learn that entertainment is served and he/she just has to sit and wait for it and will eventually just do that and nothing else beside some very trivial things like bouncing back and force.

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"Too much TV" may not be the case here, however the core issue -- the ability of the kid to self-entertain -- may be. Asking kids leading questions can be a great way to "teach" them this skill. –  Shawn C Apr 16 at 22:07
    
I don't know if I'd go so far as to suggest autism, but, my oldest had sensory integration issues at that age (4 years) and he was very similar- pestered me constantly, bounced around, fidgeted, anything so he wouldn't have to sit still. Playing alone often involves being still. His symptoms were so subtle, he was only diagnosed sort of by accident when I had him re-evaluated after "graduating" from speech therapy. It's worth looking into. –  Jax Apr 17 at 0:37
    
Autism is of course just a guess, it could be anything else as well. However Autism comes in many degrees and a minor form is actually pretty common, more well known by the term "geek". –  TwoThe Apr 17 at 0:46

I think it is perfectly normal even if your kid isn't interested in playing with toys. Bouncing on sofas is something I can relate to since my son (who is now 7 years old) does it on a daily (or sometimes even hourly) basis still! What I would suggest is that you should try and engage him elsewhere. Something I used to keep my son occupied when he was around 5 years old, was on educational websites geared towards children. They aren't those typical online gaming sites that would eventually turn your kid into one of those gaming aficionados or those kids who get addicted to gaming but they are basically educational games with a tilt towards a bit of entertainment which would be a great way to instil a love of exploration and discovery in the kids (as they say).

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