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Solo Play Develops Your Child's Brain! 5 Tips To Try If He Refuses to Play Without You
  • As much as moms and dads may want to dedicate all their free time and energy to play with their little ones, they also have long and demanding to-do lists that need to be accomplished. Still, there are kids who seem to always need their parents near them to be able to play in peace.

    Clinical psychologist Beatrice Tauber Prior, Psy.D. tells PopSugar that one big reason why some kids find it difficult to play by themselves is that they are so attached to their parents. “Separation anxiety is normal in young kids, especially between the ages of eight to 14 months,” she says. “But no parent can be attentive to their child 24 hours a day.”

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    5 ways to encourage independent play

    Independent play is an important milestone for children — it allows them to learn how to explore by themselves, and develops skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and confidence. But if you are struggling to encourage your child to play by himself, here are some tips you can try out.

    Ease him into it

    Don’t force your child to play alone cold turkey; instead, take your time in encouraging him to get used to playing by himself. Parents suggests starting out by sitting quietly next to him, and then once he is completely absorbed in what he’s doing, try going away and giving him the chance to continue playing uninterrupted.

    However, it is also important to note that the length of time it may require for your child to be able to play alone can depend on how old he is, Linda Acredolo, Ph.D., author of Baby Minds: Brain-Building Games Your Baby Will Love, notes in an article for Parents. The important thing is that you continue to encourage your child, regardless of whether he is able to progress to independent play quickly or not.

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    Give him some space

    It may be tempting to want to interject while your child is playing, but if you want him to learn how to play by himself, it would be good to just watch over him from afar. “If you’re too close, it will be easy for your child to demand your attention,” Dr. Acredolo tells Parents.

    Aside from that, Parents also points out that instructing your child on how to play might run the risk of bringing up a child who doesn’t know how to do things without asking you or someone else for help. Instead, allow him to figure out how to fiddle around and entertain himself on his own.

    Provide him with open-ended toys

    The beautiful thing about open-ended toys is that they offer unlimited opportunities for your child to exercise his imagination, which means that they can keep your child occupied for a longer period of time. This makes them ideal for encouraging your child to engage in solo play.

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    Encourage him to socialize

    Every now and then, why not set up play dates with your mom friends and their kids? If your child is given the chance to make friends of his own, he can begin to learn that he can have fun even without you to play with him. At the same time, you get to also sit down and chat with your buddies and have a quick, much-needed break.

    Surprise him regularly

    Having a lot of toys is not always a good idea. When kids have too many options for toys to play with, they may get overwhelmed. Instead, donate the toys that your child is no longer interested in, and keep those that he actually enjoys tinkering with.

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    If you find that your child seems uninterested in the toys you thought he liked best, try this trick: Give him only a few toys at a time and switch them with another set of toys after about a week or so. Aside from interesting toys, give him access to age-appropriate activities to keep him occupied like coloring activities and books.

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