Going Solo: Toddlers’ Independent Play

Teach your child to play alone so that he or she will grow up more interested, self-assured, and independent.

Helping young children develop their creativity and critical thinking abilities by teaching them to entertain themselves is not only beneficial for the sanity of working parents. When it comes to toys, we often teach our kids exactly how and what they should be doing. The process of discovering new ways to use something leads to new kinds of creativity. When children are allowed to take care of their own entertainment, they have the opportunity to learn how to tinker and experiment on their own. Children are more likely to figure out a toy’s happy surprises (the noises it can make, how it can move) when left alone with it rather than if a teacher first showed them how to use it—or if they overheard a teacher teach another child how to use it—recent research supports the value of this approach.

The chore of encouraging your toddler to play on his own may seem intimidating at first, but with patience and these expert recommendations, you’ll have him well on his way in no time.

Allow yourself some time to get used to it.

Be patient as you begin teaching your child the concept of doing things on her own without your supervision. Sit next to her and watch her play, but don’t join in at first. Try moving to a different part of the room once her attention is fully focused on what she’s doing. Playing alone isn’t always the best option for your child. Because you’re still nearby, your child will feel safe and secure.

However, don’t hold your breath waiting for immediate results. When it comes to how long your child can play alone, her age is a factor. In comparison to a 12-month-limited old’s capacity for autonomous play, a 30-month-may old’s be able to play independently for ten minutes or more. Regardless of what your child is capable of, make sure to give her appreciation.

Give your child a break.

The point is to keep an eye on what your child is doing, but if he’s playing contentedly on his own, don’t hover. Make sure he has a safe place to play before showing attention from a distance. Children are more likely to demand your attention if you are too close to them.

Also, keep an eye on how frequently you show your child how to play. To avoid raising a child who always relies on his or her parent for guidance, you should avoid interjecting too frequently. Too often, parents step in to fill in the holes. When parents and other adults believe they have all the answers for their children, they must nonetheless provide their children the freedom to express their own thoughts and views.

More Activities for Toddlers to Do on Their Own

To add to their sense of accomplishment, toddlers are more likely to feel satisfaction in their accomplishments if they choose the goals themselves. Help your child set up a pretend-play scenario, such as going to Grandma’s house, but don’t go into detail. This will teach your child independence. You may help your child prepare for his trip to Nana by asking him questions about the vehicle ride and what he can expect when he’s there.

Make it fun for your child.

Paying attention to what your child is naturally drawn to is a great approach to get her involved in a play that doesn’t require you. Ask yourself: What is it that you have to remind your child not to do on a regular basis? A powder puff and a brush might be a good idea if your child is constantly attempting to get into your cosmetics and beauty supplies.

Be aware that toddlers like mimicking the actions of their parents and caregivers. A good idea is to acquire a kid-sized toy vacuum that looks like the real thing if you want to keep them busy while you finish off your own to-do list (like cleaning the living room).

Of course, for your child, having a friend to play with is a big part of the enjoyment. Give her plenty of opportunity to play with other kids so that she learns not to rely on you as a playmate all the time. Your child will soon learn that it is possible to have fun without you.

Be an editor of toys.

Provide plenty of open-ended stuff for your youngster to play with now if you want him to grow into an autonomous thinker later on. Blocks, pots and pans, and cardboard boxes are ideal for encouraging solo play because they can be used for so many different things. Similarly, toys that need a bit more effort to play with are also fair game.

Consider the quantity as well as the type of toys you offer. With too many options, a child’s attention can be diverted, just as it might be for an adult when faced with too many options. By the time you’ve had them sitting in the toy box for a few weeks, they may have acquired a newfound attraction. For children, the novelty of seeing their favorite playthings again after an absence makes them more appealing. One of the easiest methods to get your toddler to play with an object for longer periods of time is to remove it from sight and then reintroduce it.