IS PLAYING ALONE GOOD FOR MY INFANT OR TODDLER?
Yes the answer is yes!
Yes the answer is yes!
Just because your child is young does not mean you have to be by their side playing every minute of the day (and it is totally okay to not want to either). A good amount of information out there is geared towards telling parents that they need to focus on social skills and exposing their children to social environments. BUT we also need to take a look at setting the foundation for independent play and this can start young. Some of the key benefits that independent play can have for your child are emotional regulation, self confidence and social independence. So now that we have gone over the basics… how can you help your child put it into practice?
1) KNOW YOUR CHILD’S INTERESTS
This may sound obvious, but regardless I feel as though I need to say it. It is proven that if a child is strongly interested in something it will keep them engaged for longer periods of time. So all you need to do is take notice in what your child naturally gravitates towards and likes to play with; then provide them with items of similar characteristics. This may very well be just a cardboard box and that is completely okay. I don’t know about you, but I am one happy mama if my child plays with and explores a box for 45 minutes straight!
2) ROLE MODEL THE BEHAVIOUR THROUGH PARALLEL PLAY
Role model what independent play looks like through parallel play. Parallel play is when two people are playing alongside each other with either different or similar toys but no interaction is taking place. By role modeling individual play your child is watching and observing how you are playing which will in turn project on to them. Now don’t be surprised if they do want to play with you and that is totally okay. However, over consistent role modeling of this behaviour they should get a basic understanding of it themselves and will eventually want to try it out.
3) ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO EXPLORE THE PLAY ITEMS FREELY
This can be tough on us sometimes and I understand that. Children often play/explore their world in ways we do not expect which can leave our house in a complete mess! But it is important that you do not interrupt the play to the point where they are no longer interested, engaged or eager to explore (unless of course it is a safety concern). When play is child directed it will capture their attention longer and promote independent play. In order for this to be successful give your child space, watch from a distance, keep yourself busy with another task and have trust these play skills will develop.
And there you go - some quick to the point ways in which you can help foster independent play for your young children.
It is important to note that every child is an individual and some prefer independent play naturally where as others do not. This is not something you should beat yourself up about or force onto your child. She/he is their own person with their own preferences and interests; therefore as parents we can only do our best to help facilitate and foster that.
Thanks to Erin at Mom Brain Activities for sharing this fabulous blog with us! To see the original post over on their site and to learn more about how to engage your little one please head on over to; https://mombrainactivities.wixsite.com/mombrainactivities/home/is-playing-alone-good-for-my-infant-or-toddler