Humorous Quick Reads About Families With Kids

Independent Play – Is That a Thing?

Published March 7, 2020 in Parenting - 0 Comments
girl having independent play in her room

girl having independent play in her room

Parents dream of the day their child can accomplish independent play. Being constantly on call to “Watch this, Mom!” or “Help me build this, Dad!” can exhaust any parent. Encourage your child to entertain herself, because a child playing alone gives parents some down time, develops the child’s coping skills, and can be (relatively) easily accomplished.

How Independent Play Benefits Parents

Before their birth, we fantasize that we will be on call for our offspring, every minute of every day. But this just isn’t practical. Not only is it impossible for a working parent to be available all the time, it isn’t a good goal for a stay-at-home parent either.

We all need a few minutes of peace builtĀ  into our day. So, encourage your child to spend some time in independent play, which frees you up for other things:

  • Having a conversation with another adult
  • Talking on the phone
  • Getting a task accomplished

How Independent Play Benefits the Child

Perhaps the benefits to the adult are obvious, but a child can also benefit from daily independent play.

  • Alone time encourages a child to use his imagination – stretch his brain
  • Unsupervised play allows a child a break from adult expectations
  • Self-directed activities give a child freedom to choose the desired activity

How Do You Encourage Independent Play?

Regular, successful independent play requires planning and practice. Just announcing to your child that she is going to play alone for the next hour is not going to make it happen. Take steps to prepare the child and the play space.

  • Make sure the room is safe and return occasionally to check
  • Start with 10-15 minutes alone and slowly increase each day up to 45 minutes – an hour
  • Provide activities for the child – books, building blocks, craft materials
  • Praise the child for occupying himself when the time is up

It will take some time to train your child to spend time playing alone each day. However, the benefits of parent peace of mind and child development will be well worth it.


For another Nikki Bond article about healthy playtime for kids, see:

Good Playtime Equals Good Mental Health

Read more in-depth advice about independent play in the article that inspired this blog post:

Why Kids Need Independent Playtime – And How to Start

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