Jump to content

Menu

How to entertain a 4 year old?


Kela
 Share

Recommended Posts

How do you keep a 4 year old that has to constantly keep her mind busy, entertained? She always has to be doing something. If she and I are the only ones up in the morning, she is not satisfied unless we are playing a game. She gets fighting mad with her sister if she gets tired of playing with her and wants to watch tv. She is always trying to figure out how something works or taking something apart, etc. I realize that a lot of this is normal, and I am constantly working with her on appropriate behavior. She is like a little border collie puppy in human form. If she gets bored for more than three seconds, she wrecks havoc on the house. I love working with her, but I can't constantly keep her busy. What are some things I can do to keep her busy? She is not big on watching at all. She loves computer games but I dont have a device for this at the moment. She loves sorting, organizing, and figuring out how things work. She loves when I work with her on school. She loves tedious, detailed stuff. She wasn't even 2 when she took an entire package of tiny colored elastics and sorted them by color in a sectioned plastic container and she has been known to take an entire month's grocery haul and organize it by type in individual boxes. She is not as good at puzzles or tangrams. What is something she can do independently for times that I have to get other things done?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Things I did for my kid about that age:

Homemade weekly playdough.  I used different dollar store shampoos and food extracts to scent them and colored them with food coloring.  I'd try to match them up with different cooky cutters.

Strips of paper with dots to punch out

Homemade weaving tray - I stapled ribbons to the top and left of a rectangle lid

Dot art - using a q-tip to paint a coloring page with dots

Water painting

Sorting puffballs with tweezers

Step-by-step cards that show a task (ex. first card shows getting out a paper strip, glue stick, and a pencil.  Second card shows rolling the pencil into the paper strip, third card gluing it, fourth - sliding it off, fifth- creating a string of these paper strip beads to wear)

 

Slightly more expensive:

Construction toys - like the drill-a-design thngs or pattern blocks or even Colorforms

Small puzzles - Wedgits with cards, Bambino Luk books and tray

Cuisenaire rods with challenges (making pictures, making rectangles, etc)

Stencils - I like the SchoolRite ones for numbers/letters, but a kid likes any.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Duplo (not Lego - wait till older), magnetic tiles, all sorts of building blocks from wood to cardboard. Create a space, if possible, where she can build and keep her creations displayed (we had a spare coffee table shoved in the corner for this,). Building blocks are great for developing mathematic/spatial skills and possibly working memory.  They're open-ended so good for flexibility - esp if you don't push 'following the booklet' or 'keeping sets separate'. I used to add fabric squares and natural pieces (eg twigs). My kids would build for hours - those were the days! 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If she likes sorting search for Montessori activities on YouTube. The Hapa Family is one channel that has tons of ideas.

You could also consider screen time. My youngest two have iPads with Youtube kids & PBS kids. I never would have opted for this but a vision therapist suggested it.  It’s made a huge positive difference.  I’m careful to only let them have it at certain times, and with YouTube I selected the option where I approve content, but it usually entertains them for 5-10 minutes at a time before they need redirecting. I thought it would be bad for learning but it’s been great.  They both learned letters, sounds, numbers, counting, shapes, and colors before age 3, and have a decent understanding of other preschool topics.

If they are inappropriately interrupting someone and won’t take no for an answer they go to their rooms alone until they can calm down. This isn’t a punishment, it’s a natural consequence of ignoring no. There’s often a two minute tantrum and 3 minutes of calm before I bring them back put again. This “self soothing” was also something suggested by a developmental nurse practitioner, though I was already doing it because that’s what my mother did with me. It doesn’t stop the (developmentally appropriate) frustration with hearing No, but it does help them learn to find something else to do because they can’t sit still for the three or so minutes after they calm down until I come get them. They often want to bring whatever they are playing with back to the family room. 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bubbles.

Stringing pony beads for bracelets and necklaces

my kid like this tended to tag along with what I was doing. She liked washing dishes, could fold washcloths and match socks, stirring pancake batter and such. I moved cupboards so she could help put clean dishess away and set the table. She was a big help with her baby sister too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If she has the fine motor skills for it I would try something like plastic canvass needlepoint.  It would play to the detail-loving and keep her occupied for longer.  You can get kits, or just buy plain plastic grids and books of patterns.  And if she takes to it you can get increasingly complicated projects.  

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

ADHD responds well to *structure* so you might want to emphasize the predictable *routine* of your day. The EF (executive function) deficits that go with it sometimes result in them not realizing/remembering their choices, so visual schedules or lists can help. You can take pictures of each choice for that room or that time slot and print them on a page to put in a page protector. Then she knows the plan (in this room these are your choices). 

4 hours ago, Kela said:

She is not as good at puzzles or tangrams.

Have you had her eyes checked? Sometimes these kids have retained reflexes, and those reflexes then result in other reflexes not developing correctly (visual, vestibular, etc.). So they can be seeking the input trying to get their bodies to feel right, and they can be shying away from activities that aren't working for them. It never hurts to have their eyes screened by a developmental optometrist. They  can do a developmental screening as part of a regular vision exam.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My DD (severe ADHD, PG daughter) at age 4 she went to gymnastics every single day, often followed by homeschool PE or an art class and also a trip to a playground. Wearing her out physically was  the only way to not have her destroying the house. 

Edited by hippymamato3
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 minutes ago, hippymamato3 said:

My DD (severe ADHD, PG daughter) at age 4 she went to gymnastics every single day, often followed by homeschool PE or an art class and also a trip to a playground. Wearing her out physically was  the only way to not have her destroying the house. 

Yup, the Y is the bomb for this. Ours has a sliding scale, income based, and they had swim lessons, gymnastics, etc. to keep my ds busy. Once we got his reflexes integrated, the off the charts behavior calmed down. And I agree the IQ can be a factor, especially if some areas are not working well. The brain has to put that energy somewhere. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Does she have a dollhouse to set up, arrange, rearrange?

Duplos

Bin full of beans with measuring cups and spoons, muffin tins, little cake pans

Definitely Google sorting games

Does she like Seek and Find books with specific things to find on each page? Our library has a HUGE section of these and some kids will pour over them for hours.

Reusable sticker scenes? Melissa and Doug makes these. The stickers are vinyl so they are more like old-school Colorforms than stickers.

Does she like to color?

Edited by MercyA
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My mom taught me to entertain myself by having me play alone for 5 minutes, then 10, and so on. It was a valuable skill to learn because I’m an only child, and my mom couldn’t always be entertaining me. Even if she had the time, it was important for me to learn to occupy myself. Maybe have a kid-friendly timer for quiet time - mom doing something quiet, DD doing something quiet? Perhaps small chunks of time a few times a day would work, and gradually make them longer as she is able...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So many excellent ideas above!  They bring back some happy memories.

We did a sort of Montessori-inspired approach, and I recall that at one point we bought shelves for our Ikea trofast system, and these little plastic trays that fit perfectly on each tray.  I would rotate activities on the trays.  Kids would get out a tray, use it, put everything back on tray and put away.  The activities would be like the ones above.  

I also made a ton of quiet time bags with activities, which we stored in boxes and rotated. I googled and used a lot of printable resources and dollar store items to make activities.  It was fun. Pinterest helped.

But, really, what I wanted to share here is this: my DS was a lot like you describe.  When he was a bit older - old enough to be trusted alone - but not old enough to entertain himself … I desperately needed more sleep (health issues).  He was an early riser, and so every night I would make a card for him with a knock knock joke, and set out breakfast items and a project.  He’d get up and by the time I came downstairs he’d have an almost completed project.  Little did I know we were training him.  He is still an early riser, at 17.  Bed by 10, up by 6:00 - 6:30 am. And his is *driven* … if he hasn’t completed some project of substance before school starts, he’s disappointed.  And he’s built quite an art portfolio that way!  And gobs of research into interest areas. So, that’s my little plug for kids like this, who need to be doing something constantly.  

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My youngest is just like this.  He needs to be doing something with people every minute of the day. Fortunately, his drive to do things with people that he's not that picky about the activity.  He'd rather fold laundry with me, or help his great-grandfather cook, than play alone.  So, he has some mad skills.  I hope one day this will earn me brownie points with a son or daughter in law.  I deserve them because parenting him is exhausting. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh my goodness, you just described my dd at that age!  So exhausting! 

Like Baseball, mine didn't like to be alone so did a lot along side of me.  Or I would set her up with a plastic container with water for water play or a container with sand for sand play - next to me because of the not liking to be alone thing. 

I did try the "teaching them to do things on their own for five minutes at a time thing" but honestly it was like pulling teeth with so much resistance that I'm not sure that she really learned anything. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don’t have any ideas, but I sympathize. My 6 year old is up at 5 am every morning. It’s been that way since he was a baby. He has to get ready and make his bed and then we make the day’s dough together. While it’s rising he plays in his room. That morning project of kneading dough seems to help, but not always. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As you mention a love for detailed stuff:

Iron beads?  (that’s how its called here) It is not my cup of tea but dd liked it.

Embroidery for kindergarten ? I think I was 5 when I got my first embroidery package.

Weaving? Or maybe first spool knitting?

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Kela said:

How do you keep a 4 year old that has to constantly keep her mind busy, entertained?

Teach her to entertain herself. I think someone else mentioned teaching her to play by herself 5 min, 10 min etc.

In addition look into Montessori methods of teaching her math and reading. Montessori activities are designed around having the child be able to learn themselves. You have to sit with her sometimes and show her generally what the activity is and guide her as to perhaps what she is suppose to get out of the activity, but there is a huge component of they can explore the materials on their own. Then after you've introduced some of the Montessori activities then when she asks you to entertain her and you are not available, tell her she is welcome to work on one of those independent activities. Make sure the activities are challenging for her, she has to think to get the right answer. 

Couple all of this with dedicated time you spend with her doing what she wants to do at least once a day. This means activities she comes up with, not you coming up with something she might enjoy. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A lot of great ideas! Thank you! I love the idea of embroidery, I think she would really like that. She loves seek and find books, especially. She actually is pretty independent and will keep herself entertained, it's just that she quickly becomes destructive when she is working independently. I think she is so darn bored. They say she is bored at school as well. I'm glad to hear that a lot of others have kids with similar tendencies. She is a good little helper and a very hard worker. She loves to color and draw. She loves building, playdough, anything squishy and messy, lol. She gets laser focused and driven and I think it's hard to find something intense enough to keep her occupied, if that makes sense.

20 hours ago, Katy said:

If she likes sorting search for Montessori activities on YouTube. The Hapa Family is one channel that has tons of ideas.

You could also consider screen time. My youngest two have iPads with Youtube kids & PBS kids. I never would have opted for this but a vision therapist suggested it.  It’s made a huge positive difference.  I’m careful to only let them have it at certain times, and with YouTube I selected the option where I approve content, but it usually entertains them for 5-10 minutes at a time before they need redirecting. I thought it would be bad for learning but it’s been great.  They both learned letters, sounds, numbers, counting, shapes, and colors before age 3, and have a decent understanding of other preschool topics.

If they are inappropriately interrupting someone and won’t take no for an answer they go to their rooms alone until they can calm down. This isn’t a punishment, it’s a natural consequence of ignoring no. There’s often a two minute tantrum and 3 minutes of calm before I bring them back put again. This “self soothing” was also something suggested by a developmental nurse practitioner, though I was already doing it because that’s what my mother did with me. It doesn’t stop the (developmentally appropriate) frustration with hearing No, but it does help them learn to find something else to do because they can’t sit still for the three or so minutes after they calm down until I come get them. They often want to bring whatever they are playing with back to the family room. 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...