My daughter is 4 years old. She wants to keep playing all the time and in her way only. She avoids to play cricket, basketball, or puzzles where you can lose or you need to think in order to win. She also avoids skating, roller board or other things like this.

She generally prefers to play with doll set, kitchen set etc. She mimics everyday what she does in her school and turn it into a game. And she needs someone to play with her all the time. Unfortunately, there is no other kid around, not even a good park with some groups of kids to play with.

I'm an Open Source developer working around 14 hours per day. Hence I'm not able to give her sufficient time.

I want to set up her routine in such a way that she can engage herself for at least 2-3 hours without using a mobile. So that other family members are not full time busy either with their or her work.


I work from home all the time. Her mother & grand mother also take care of her. But as they're involved in other housework as well, they engage her hardly for 3-4 hours in a day. She takes the sleep of approx 10 hours, school (5 days in a week) of 3 hours, mobile for rhyme for 1 hour, homework for max 30 mins. Rest of the time she feels she is alone and no one is playing with her. She tries to keep her engaged in her imagination but not for long. And I'm not sure if talking to yourself in your imaginary games is good.

  • 2
    The way I read the question, you're the primary caregiver during the day, working 14 hours while she's there (and only you). Is that correct? You refer at the end to 'other family members', are they also involved in her care during the workday? Are you working at home, or are you at a workplace 14 hours, and she's under someone else's care (family, nanny, daycare, etc.)?
    – Joe
    Aug 1, 2018 at 14:57
  • @Joe I;ve updated the detail in question now. Aug 2, 2018 at 12:36

2 Answers 2


Sounds like a normal 4-year old to me. Imaginative play and boredom are good, especially at this age when there is no pressure to succeed.

Your main concern seems that her play has no purpose (my interpretation). Notice how she plays - creativity in extending everyday situations, empathy, expression, purpose in completing a task. Extend it by evolving a conversation naturally.

For example, if she is playing kitchen with you/ another adult - may be ask her to make a new dish and ask her what the ingredients are and how to cook it. Extend it by asking her to solve little everyday problems - Oh no, we ran out of one ingredient, what to do now? Oh, the food in the pot got burnt, what to do now? I do not like butter in my food, what will you make? I am very hungry I need food very fast, what will you make? Even cooking is very logical and involves science and problem solving.

Another way is to find puzzles/ toys related to her interests. I have seen lot of activity boxes regarding science in kitchen, etc. You can look into those.

You should definitely take a break from your 14hr work days and devote 1 or 2 hrs everyday to some physical activity - throwing a ball, just playing in the park etc. Slowly as she gains stamina and confidence, she may gain interest in sports. Some kids may not have any interest in sports, but need to keep up the physical activity somehow or the other to build stamina.

Some kids are naturally not competitive, some will develop that later once they get involved in school activities. Neither way is good or bad, but as a parent one has to provide a nurturing environment so that the kid can better themselves slowly. As she grows older and you spend more time with her, both of you will figure out how best to deal with things.

  • I was skeptics but not concerned if she plays without purpose. You're right I should do physical exercise daily for my health and for her health and time pass. I've made her habit of asking questions and asking "why". So I'm less concerned about that. But yes I should focus on problem solving as well. Aug 3, 2018 at 2:43

My advice- if you are not already doing this, take 30 minutes a few times a day, sit with her in a comfortable chair or couch, and read to her. Give it all your attention.

Pro tip- many (too many) children's books have boy protagonists. Read them with girl pronouns instead. It is amazing!

I'm a programmer, have been participating in and contributing to OSS and communities since before the term was defined. I assume you already know this but in those terms- your daughter is far and away your most important community.

She is ready for all kinds of pre-reading learning, and reading is one of the best solo activities, with immeasurable future benefits in all sorts of skill domains. If you make the shared experience important to you and her, she will start to do it on her own. And your relationship with her will benefit tremendously.

Good luck!

  • @jona.benton I really like your pro tip. Yes I give around 30 mins daily before going to bed. We learn Japanese, play some games, and sometimes I read out some small story. Now I've decided to spend Sunday only with her to roam around, DIY, making videos, watching movie and other things. Aug 8, 2018 at 13:05
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    That's great. It's hard to detach from programming and from professional duties, but even minutes sitting together, giving attention, have enormous compounding benefits. Best wishes to you and her! Aug 8, 2018 at 13:11

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