My 3 year old just wants to watch TV. What can I do?


Lots of parents are struggling with getting their children motivated to do anything, even play sometimes. One parent asked us what they can do to help their 3 year old interact, “some days it’s a struggle to get them to do anything”. We asked Joanna Fortune, a child psychotherapist, if she could tell us how to get their enthusiasm back.

Joanna tells us…

At 3 years old a child is at Stage 1 of Developmental Play, when sensory play is really important. Kids at this age are learning all about embodiment, touch, tactile, sensory seeking exploration. They’re discovering that they have an inside and outside, where they end and the world and other people begin.

Joanna reminds us to, “look at what your 3 year old is playing with, it will probably be messy, and embrace it!”

If you’re worried about making your living space a mess, Joanna’s top tip is to put down something to minimise the mess first, such as bin bags, cloths, art mats or bath towels. Alternatively, you can wrap the table they’re working at with a roll of art paper, and let them draw and paint all over it; you’ll then be able to unwrap it at the end and your table will remain nice and clean!

Another great sensory play experience can be with water; fill a bowl with warm water, a splash of washing up liquid (but don’t mix it in), and add a dash of cinnamon to make it smell. This will get them using all their senses and keep them entertained for longer than you could imagine.

So what can parents do?

Embrace the play they enjoy.

Be prepared to get messy with sensory play!

Remind yourself that you are enough, and these are unprecedented times.