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Single Mom Dealing With a Demanding Daughter


I am a single mom with a 5-year-old daughter who is not happy unless my full attention is always focused on her. I have tried explaining to her that mommy is not always able to play with her. I've also tried to play for a little while then leave her to play on her own. Usually when I do this, she immediately stops and insists I join her again. Can you suggest some parenting tips that would enable her to be more comfortable playing on her own, which will give me the ability to focus some attention on the other responsibilities I have?


Being a single mother is hard work. Adding a child who needs a lot of attention doesn't make your job any easier. It sounds like your daughter loves having you around. It's difficult if it's just you two at home because her only option for attention is from you. Rather than playing with her for a little while and then leaving, try having her play on her own first. When she is able to do that successfully, reward her by having one-on-one time with her. That will teach her to seek your attention by doing positive things such as playing on her own. Remember, set your expectations low at first -- five minutes and then gradually increase her alone play time to 10 minutes, 15 minutes and so on.

While she’s playing on her own, make sure you’re near enough to verbally interact with her. Praise her throughout for playing nicely and also comment on things she is doing. For example, "You're doing such a great job of playing with your toys. I see you built a very big bridge with your blocks. That's great!" This lets her know that even though you aren't on the floor playing with her, you are still acknowledging her.

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