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4 Responses to 10 Steps to Build Independence in Play

  1. Elena

    I appreciate all the thought that went into this post, and I remember with my first, when it was just the two of us all day long, I was desperate for a minute or two to myself.

    I think the need for “independent play” strategies is yet another consequence of our modern “Mommy in a box” lifestyle, because in a natural human social setting, there would be a ton of young cousins, neighbors, etc. around to play with.

    Trust me when I say, five kids later, that independent play just happens if there is more than one kid around, even at ages younger than this. They would much rather hang around each other, even if they’re each playing their own thing, and they’ll only come to Mama when they really need something.

    It’s sad to me that in our current nuclear family arrangements, many of our basic needs (for the child, companionship, for the Mama, time and space to concentrate on a task) are not met and we have to go to such convoluted lengths to try to satisfy them, when in a “normal” human community these needs would be met effortlessly.

  2. Jo

    Really interested in this excellent post. It confirms other advice I’ve received as well as giving me new ideas and inspiring me to keep trying. This has been one of the biggest challenges with my child.
    Just to add, I’ve found music works really well, as well as audio stories. Also, I’ve heard sand-timers can be good as a count down for younger children.
    Thanks for this!

  3. Lauren  

    Thanks so much for these tips! I know having my 4-year-old play at stretches by himself or with other kids has been such a relief for my husband and me. He’s also been high-needs, whereas my baby is more content to play by himself already. I definitely found that using gentle and gradual steps toward independent play helped a lot, but I’m going to incorporate some of these particular ideas to move his creativity forward. I think they’d also work well for just letting him lead play when we’re playing together, so I think that will be fun!

  4. Janine  

    Great post! My 18 month old son is pretty damn great at playing independently, even if that means “exploring” all of the DVDs by pulling them off the shelves or strewing my craft supplies everywhere to examine them. Your post did make me realize that I might instruct a little bit too much. I genuinely like playing with toys! And so I tend to jump in and give my ideas when maybe I should let him lead the way. Definitely noted!

    I also really like the idea of reading together but separately – That’s something I’d been thinking about as a way to actually get some reading done for myself. Doing it in bed sounds especially awesome!