How can I get my 4-year-old to entertain herself?

How do I get my 4 year old to entertain herself sometimes? We play all day, everyday! But if I have to stop, She literally sits and stares at me until I play again. I try setting her up with activities and new things to do, but she will not do them unless I do them with her. Sometimes I just want to cook dinner without having to bounce back and forth


“Mommy’s busy and I can not play with you right now. You have to play by yourself” repeat when needed. Don’t give in. You’re the parent, they won’t learn until you teach them. She’ll figure it out. You deserve a break. :hugs:


You just have to stop giving in. She knows you will give in which is why she does it.


Walk away? Leave her be? She will learn to entertain herself. I tell my 4.5 year old son “I’m busy”. Period, no more explanation needed.

I don’t know if you’ve seen Bluey, but chili literally says she needs 20 minutes where no one comes near her. When I say that my girls know I’m overstimulated and need a break. Just tell her, she’s a human too!


My almost four yo grandson and I have a routine and he loves the structure. We make a list at the beginning of our time together, counting on our fingers and we do each item on the list. It gives him control and power, he doesn’t mind my 30 minute break in the middle, and there’s a 20 minute “play with Maamaw’s phone” as a reward for hitting all the marks. I’m 68 with lots of arthritis, I have to have a break


Sensory things! Just a tote of rice/beans with some spoons and measuring cups kept my girls occupied for an hour. My youngest also likes those scribble scrubbie crayola pets you color. So that’s something she could do at the table while you’re making dinner so she’s still by you.


Little sensory bins u can make pretty cheap, that ms Rachel show maybe, coloring there are invisible pads n markers for that if u worry about her tagging the walls lol, have her do a task like draw some pictures so u can pick your favorite. Or get some gems n have her do a treasure hunt lol

I used to take blocks out and started building with my daughter and I told her mommy has to go do some thing and set a timer and I will be back when the timer goes off
 But when I come back, I want to see what you built


Sensory bins. With toys and rice or beans or I let my daughter play in the sink while i clean the kitchen or cook. Ofcourse she gets water everywhere, but it’s an easy clean up and she can wipe up most of it herself.


I agree with the timer idea that usually helps like tell them mommy has to go do this but I’ll be right back and you leave them with something to do for themselves. Either coloring a page for you, building with blocks, sensory bins are awesome there’s a lot of activities that kids can do on their own. You just have to tell them Mommy needs a few minutes to finish doing this and then I’ll be back to check on you. And you could just take a 5-minute break here or there until she gets used to it then after a couple days do 10 to 15 minutes of her playing alone. Or for instance if you have to cook dinner a lot of times my 4-year-old loves to help me whenever I cook or bake, just an idea. Or maybe you could just set her at the table in the kitchen while you’re doing stuff and have her playing a game by herself but you’re still right there with her :person_shrugging:

1 Like

4 years old. Give her more alone time. With activities. She will.start right now she knows your going to jump back to her. Give her space.

1 Like

Give her a visual timer, and start with independent play for just 5 min, and she can see how much time left. Gradually increase it so you can actually do things like shower alone or cook or whatever. I’d say at age 4, a half hour at a time is pretty good :smiling_face: it’ll get easier.

1 Like

Let her be bored. By four years old she should have learned to play by herself. STOP running back & forth.

It’s very important for them to learn how to entertain themselves.


While you cook tell her to come play in the kitchen at the tablet while you cook amd you guys can talk while you cook.

Or just tell her you’ll be back to play after food is done then go cook

Every 5 min of independent play gets a sticker? Every 5 stickers gets a toy from the dollar store. Then start leveling her up so every 10 minutes gets 1 sticker, every 10 stickers gets a toy etc. It’s how up potty trained my son lol.

1 Like

Zip lock bags and slime with litter and stuff tape bag closed

Bean table for trick and stuff so much fun

Involve her in the cooking

1 Like

Get her to help you with whatever you are doing.

Play with her a little less during the day, allow her to be bored so she’ll learn to use her imagination and occupy herself. You will burn yourself out if you tey to occupy her every waking second.

1 Like

Have her help you with dinner, etc

Lol this will be an issue for a few years lol my 7yr old still does this :roll_eyes: I try to include him in the things I have to get done.

Good luck! Not many 4 yr olds will do that

She doesn’t understand why you want to leave her. Explain how she is intelligent and she CAN play alone while you do Adult Responsibilities. TEACH her activities she can do.
Let her read a book.
(Look at pics )
Watch a kid show she can learn from.
Get her an activity book that teaches writing so she will be busy writing and learning.
Color books.
Research activities she can do alone.
Let her help and learn how to survive as an adult doing daily chores.
She will love helping Mommy and adulting with you. Have faith in together with chores.
The Fly Lady has several games and tips for that. God bless.

Its so imperative to allow kids to be bored sometimes!
Thats when their imagination starts working the best❤️
Leave her be for a bit and let her figure out what she wants to do.

Let her help u with what your doing