My boyfriend's 8-will-be-9-in-a-month daughter is with us for the summer. Her mom lives many states away so summer is dad/daughter time while mom has her for the school year. I am having troubles with her trying to draw my attention to her every 10-30 minutes.
When she came to us, it was really obvious that she is behind developmentally. Last summer she could successfully shower herself with no issue when she and her dad stayed the weekend at my place. The first several days this summer she could not wash her own hair because mom washes it for her until I walked her step by step how to. She also struggled with brushing her hair. Single digit addition & subtraction was a struggle. She has poor fine motor skills compared to what I had at her age. We've gotten her able to successfully shower on her own again, as well as brush her hair without issue. She's practicing math each day with some games and it has gotten much better. I'm not asking about any of this, I just want to give context here.
Details of the issue
She wants to be constantly near us and is seeking our attention. Some ways she does this:
- My boyfriend and I had just walked over to the kitchen area from the living room where she was working on a puzzle. Within minutes, she's walking over to give a hug. We were still in sight of her & the puzzle.
- When I have to take her to work so that she is not alone all day she is sitting right next to me and says things like "Look" to get me to look at her craft.
- When I am working from home, she is downstairs on the couch playing/entertaining herself while I am working on the computer. I am in sight of her and she still comes over to hug me / ask me questions (start conversations) / try to get me to look at something.
Dad yells at her when she does this, such as "Stop coming over here just because we are." "I told you to play in your room." I tend to start gently reminding her the rules. "What did I say about bugging me at work? Drawing my attention is bugging me. I need to concentrate." I get more forceful each time I have to repeat myself.
Stuff we do together
I get that this poor girl is starved for attention and I have been trying to give her attention. For example she is in the kitchen about 1/2 the time I am helping me. We make breakfast together on the weekends (sausage and eggs). Through the week she makes herself oatmeal or cereal while I am fixing my breakfast and we eat breakfast together. When I am cooking dinner, she mixes things and stirs things for me. She sets the table to eat. When I am home for lunch/dinner we eat that together too (no real idea when I am not home if dad eats with her). She helps me with housework like folding laundry. I have gotten her some skill appropriate crafts and have worked WITH her on them. I do my crafts on the couch next to her. I try to find time to spend with her. The other day I played dolls with her. At work she is literally sitting next to me at my office desk with a book, coloring activities, and a craft to keep her busy. And every 10-30 minutes she is trying to get me to focus on her. (When we are at my office I make sure it is for at most 4 hours because I know how boring it is, and I work from home when I can). Being at work with me only happens when my boyfriend is scheduled to work during my work hours and I have meetings during that time.
I am an introvert and her constant attempts at getting my attention are wearing me down to the point where I don't have much energy of an evening to spend positive time with her because I need to be alone to recharge. By not have enough energy I'm talking about tired to the point of exhaustion and making myself sick. And I do REALLY need her not to constantly bug me at work as I have to concentrate on what I am doing.
What are some ways to help her not seek my attention every 10-30 minutes?
The closest question I could find was this one but it is for a 4 year old, and the accepted answer will not help, as she is already a part of most things I am doing from doing laundry, to watering the plants, to taking out the trash. I have taken advantage of her willingness to help, but she cannot help me develop software at work.