Encouraging Independent Play: How Baby Benefits

Being your child’s Entertainment Director can be difficult for any busy parent. Face it, there’s nothing worse than a bored child when mommy or daddy want to take a short break, get some paperwork done or even just make a grocery list. Encouraging independent play is an important aspect of your child’s development. While it boosts your kid’s creative development by encouraging imagination, learning to entertain yourself also provides great opportunities to develop other important skills and learning.


Going Independent: Getting Your Child Playing

Independent play is a very important aspect of growing up in a child’s life. Studies on development cite that learning to play by yourself can encourage your little one to solve problems, learn to cope with new circumstances, express themselves and encourage their imagination to grow. With all the benefits of getting your kid to play independently, including some free time for you, it’s little wonder many parents want to encourage this behavior. So where do you start?


Start Small
Getting your kids engaged in independent play can start from an early age. For example, babies can use a play mat or play gym to start entertaining themselves from a very young age. By encouraging them to find ways to amuse themselves, you can teach your children self-reliance, as well as reap the benefits that playing independently can bring.


Work On Building Time
Kids may not feel that playing on their own is any kind of fun at all, particularly if they’re used to attention from mommy or daddy. Start by introducing small intervals of time, for example, 10-15 minutes, and then build on that every week. Make sure they know you are nearby, but are allowing them the opportunity to play on their own.


Give Praise
Your children live for praise, and learning to take care of themselves is certainly deserving of kudos. Be specific when you’re praising them for playing independently. For example, try “I’m really proud of you that you played with your doll and drew a picture on your own. Aren’t you smart!” Help them to make up their own games and involve their siblings as well.


Make Independent Playtime Non-Digital
Though the easiest option is sitting your kid down in front of a screen for some TV or tablet entertainment, this does not necessarily constitute playing independently. Ideally you want your child to engage their mind. Try building blocks or coloring as a good place to start, and encourage your children to make up their own stories. For younger ones, like an infant, a fun activity center like a Brightstarts baby gym is a good item to have on hand for playtime.


Getting your kids to play independent of you can be a huge help when you need a break or just have to get a few things done around the house. Not only is it beneficial to you, there are many positive learning benefits to your children. Focus on using more traditional toys and elements rather than going straight down the digital path. As the fun increases, the more likely you are to see them engage in their own playtime more frequently.


With four kids, writer Melanie Fleury found that using her Brightstarts baby gym and bouncers or rockers were a great way to keep her children occupied and give her free hands for a moment. She hopes that moms who read this article will learn how important independent time is and how to encourage their little ones to enjoy time playing alone.


Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dagoaty/4857489151/

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