How Do I Teach My Child To Play Independently?

Can you remember when you were little, how we had to entertain ourselves & play independently? 

However do you find that it’s something your little one isn’t willing to do?

You are not alone, I hear lots of parents say the same. It is a skill they have to learn & the earlier we encourage it the easier they find it to play alone.

We put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything & one of those is to entertain our children all day, so many parents feel guilty leaving their little one to play but it was completely normal for our parents to encourage it & it is for us too. 

In fact it is really beneficial to our little ones to play independently & a big chunk of their play should be led by them. Now don’t get me wrong it isn’t about leaving them to it as we do need to provide them opportunities to play but we don’t always need to be playing with them.

With both my girls I started encouraging them at a young age to play independently & both play really well alone, in fact sometimes they don’t want me to play with them! (Mummy goes off feeling rejected!)


My girls playing independently in the den I made before starting to cook dinner

So don’t feel guilty about taking time to sit for a cuppa or get on with some chores & leave them to play. They will be ok, but it is a skill they have to learn so if your little one struggles to play independently then check out my 3 tips below to help.

Here’s my top 3 tips:

Before encouraging your child to play independently give them some quality time with you, make sure you give them lots of positive attention & love. By filling up their ‘love’ cup they are more likely to feel less secure being alone.

Give them more than just a screen. It may be tempting to have independent play time with a device, but encourage your child to play with open ended toys, create art, play with the small world or explore sensory items.

Children often struggle to play independently when they are in the same room as us so, let them have space to play alone.

Of course you’ll want to be able to monitor your child for safety purposes, but even if there’s just a wall separating you from them, they will be more likely to start playing without you – the phrase “Out of sight, out of mind” is often true for play.

These are my 3 tips to get started to encourage your child to play independently, it won’t happen overnight & is a skill they need to learn & practice. Along with these 3 tips there are a variety to techniques to encourage your child to play by themselves, which one you use depends on your child. 

I love to connect with mum’s & dad’s, so if you enjoy It’s Playtime Tots tips, advice & activities please feel free to join my supportive community on Facebook & share your photo’s & ideas with us as well as give & receive more support to navigate our way through raising our little ones.

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