Okay you need a little break from all the chaos that living in a child’s world gives you on a consistent basis. Should you take a break while they are awake or only while they’re sleeping? What if you need to make a quick phone call to make a doctor’s appointment or arrange a play date? Should children EVER be left alone unless secure in their beds asleep?
Well, according to child development specialists, and child psychologists the answer is yes. You could be doing your child a great disservice by NOT giving THEM time alone. I recently wrote that: “if you don’t teach children that it’s OK to be alone, they’ll only know how to be lonely.” Julia Edelstein
It is so important that we teach our children that they don’t need us to be happy and content. That they have the power to entertain themselves, and problem solve. “To a certain extent, being alone is a learned behavior, and if you never leave your baby, he won’t learn to settle himself,” says Cynthia Chandler, Ph.D., assistant professor of early childhood education at Black Hill State University in Spearfish, SD.Read more: Teach Kids How to Play Alone – Mom Break – Redbook . Solo play encourages independence, self-confidence, creativity, and language skills, says Maria Luisa Escolar, M.D., a developmental pediatrician at the University of North Carolina’s Center for the Study of Development and Learning, in Chapel Hill.
So, how do we teach this very important life skill to our children?
- First we have to get over the guilt we may feel by allowing them to play alone (you aren’t being a neglectful parent you’re giving your child a sense of freedom and independence).
- Make sure that when you begin teaching this skill you have your child in a secure area so they won’t hurt themselves.
- Keep an eye on them from a distance when beginning this process.
- Give them an activity that they can do, successfully, by themselves e.g investigate the cupboards, stacking blocks, building railroad tracks, puzzles etc.
- Allow them to talk with themselves and work imaginatively.
What you’ll discover is that your child is so creative and smart all on their own. They will also start to thrive in their alone time. Remember that you’re giving them a hugely important skill, and one that can be forgotten to be taught to our children with nannies, parents, and babysitters constantly with our children and filling their days with activities that they’ve planned.