Having a playroom full of toys can overwhelm children and stop them from playing by themselves. If you want to teach your child to play on their own from time to time, provide them with age-appropriate toys or games that they can figure out without your help and rotate them regularly. This will help them build their confidence and independence and stop them from getting bored.
Toys that need your child’s imagination will keep them busy for longer, so having building blocks, art supplies or a dressing up drawer in their play or bed room will help your little ones to play alone for longer. Science experiments are always a winner too.
No matter, if you teach your child to play on their own or use the potty, encouragement and positive reinforcement are the way forward. If you see that your child is getting bored or losing concentration, tell them how nicely they are playing, point out something they’ve done particularly well or challenge them in a positive way, e.g. “Wow, look at that amazing tower you’ve built. Do you think you can add another two or three bricks to it?”.
If you want to teach your child to play on their own, you’d better prepare yourself for it to get messy, but that’s okay as long as they are safe. In summer, it makes sense to move things outside. If you don’t have an outside space or the weather gods are against you, a splash mat is an absolute must-have as are an apron or overall for your budding artists and crafters.
When you teach your child to play on their own, it is important that it’s a learning process for them. Gradually increase the time periods that you leave the room for during playtime. If your child is younger, try and build some mental distance first by focussing on something different than your child’s play, e.g. read a book in your child’s room. This way you are showing them that you are still present while taking your focus away from them.