Mastering alone time and independent play is an important toddler development. And here’s the best way to begin:
Ease into it
It isn’t a race of firsts. Learning independent play can take some time to get used to, and a gentle and gradual approach can often be the way forward. One way to achieve this is to sit alongside your child while they are playing, but not proactively engage in the activity. After a while simply walk away for a few moments and then come back and the try it for a little longer.
Try following a schedule
Schedule play time at approximately the same time every day when the baby is the freshest (for example, just after resting and eating). Put several age-appropriate toys in a basket for your little one to play with and position the play-mat in such a way that you can watch your child play.
Don’t use flashy toys and screens
The less complicated and funky the toy, the more creativity in kids play it helps develop. While toys with sounds,lights,buttons are all great –but,in moderation. Try opting for more traditional toys like baby books, balls, wooden blocks, play dough, and everyday items that are not branded toys – like pots and pans, mud, or laundry baskets.
Be interested in their play
Just because it’s independent doesn’t imply that it doesn’t involve ‘mommy time’. Make sure you take the time to engage and connect fully with your child about their play, for even just a few minutes, before leaving them to it and praise them when it’s finished. Also try not to interrupt their play too much – respect what they’re doing and give them warning when it’s time to wrap up a game or activity.
Don’t play for them
This sounds simple enough but it’s amazing how many parents end up controlling playtime with their kids instead of letting them run with it. Remember, they are the boss and you’re just the spectator.
Teaching our children this important basic skill offers an opportunity to encourage creativity, problem-solving, orderliness, and independence just to name a few.
What tips do you have for getting your toddler to play independently?