While we tend to worry about how our child plays with others, we often do not give the same attention to how our child plays alone. However, independent play is just as vital to your child’s development. Play is a mode of expression, and playing independently gives your child time to form him or herself, acting out scenarios, problem solving, and learning how to cope with challenges.
And independent play has plenty of benefits for you as well. When your child learns how to play alone, you get time to take care of the home or take care of yourself. And if you have more than one child, it can give you the chance to get that all-important one-on-one time that every child needs. Really, it creates an ideal situation for all involved. So, how can you encourage independent play?
If you tell your child to go play by him or herself, the natural reaction is to resist, or to at least feel put out. Instead, create situations that feel interesting and tempting, and then let what happens, happen. For example, gather up a box of interesting items and leave it for your child to discover, or move the toys around to give them interest again.
Screen time is something kids can easily do alone, but that doesn’t make it independent play. Independent play should encourage children to be creative and expressive. In essence, it should make them producers, not consumers. Screen time is passive and requires nothing on the part of your child.
If your child seems hesitant to start, model independent play yourself. This can include things like coloring your own page, building your own tower, or playing with your own family of dolls. Eventually, you can move towards your own activities that are more suited to you, such as reading, knitting, or whatever chore you need to get do