It is important your toddler spends a little time playing on their own, discovering new things and figuring out the way the world works.
Playing with your toddler is a lovely way to bond and connect, and figure out their little quirks and likes and dislikes.
However, it is also important they spend a little time playing on their own, discovering new things and figuring out the way the world works.
It also means you get a few minutes to yourself to either catch up on some chores or take a break.
If your little one is not the best at playing on their own, the following seven tips might help:
1. Make their toys easily accessible
There is no point encouraging your child to play by themselves if they can’t access their toys. If you don’t fancy giving them free rein to just play with what they like (and therefore make a huge mess
) set up a play station for them with plenty of toys
that will keep them entertained.
2. Give them plenty of praise when they do play by themselves
Children thrive off praise so make sure you give them plenty when they are about to enjoy independent play and when they are finished. This will encourage them to want to participate in it a little more.
3. Don’t interfere in their play – just let them get on with it
Don’t hover around your child checking to make sure they’re not making a mess or getting up to mischief. Yes, of course, keep an eye on them – we all know that an unsupervised toddler is dangerous – but don’t interrupt their play. If they are drawing, simply remark what a lovely picture it is and then move away.
4. Set up a safe space for them to play in
It is important your toddler has a safe space to play in, especially if they are going to be on their own. Make sure there are no wires, chords, sharp edges or anything that they can hurt themselves on in the room that they are playing in. If you want, block off a particular play area that they can’t get out of. This way you won’t have to constantly follow them around the house making sure they don’t get up to mischief or into trouble.
5. Only leave them play alone as long as they are enjoying it
There is no point forcing your child to play by themselves if they really don’t want to. So maybe when you’re starting off, leave them playing alone for ten minutes, slowing increasing it by three or four minutes every few days. If they're not enjoying themselves, do move in to play with them for a few minutes before moving off again to see if they settle.
6. Do give them a certain amount of attention before you leave them too it
While it’s certainly beneficial y to encourage your child to play on their own, interacting with you is just as important. Talk, engage and even play with them before you leave the room for them to play on their own.
7. Don’t go too far – be within sight or earshot at least
If your little one is nervous about being left on their own, or are usually very clingy, it is important you don’t leave them completely on their own. Some kids don’t do well if they can’t see or hear you nearby, and if they don’t feel safe, they won’t feel comfortable playing alone.