Benefits of Independent Play
by: Elyse Mallay
Independent Play/solitary play, eh? You may have heard of parallel play when we took our little tots on those desperate play dates in the early days; inevitably, some mom threw out the phrase (at least that's how I discovered the term). 'Independent play' however, was a new one on my parenting journey, and to be honest, it sounds like a mini vacation.
So, what is it exactly?
By definition (ahem, google), solitary (independent) play is when the child is alone and maintains focus on its activity. Such a child is uninterested in or is unaware of what others are doing. It is more common in younger children ages 2 – 3. There are two primary reasons a child will find themselves in in solitary play, either a) because they have not been developed socially to play with others yet or b) because they choose alone time. <- I feel you child who falls under option b.
According to Karen Richardson Gill MD, examples of solitary play include reading or flipping through books on their own, working on a project like a Lego set, putting together a puzzle, coloring, or painting on large sheets of paper or coloring books, or playing with blocks.
Benefits of independent play
Independent play encourages independence. Don't worry, your bambino won't be leaving home next week, but they may develop a stronger sense of persistence and completion. Furthermore, research shows this can have a positive impact on concentration.
Beyond this, Rachel Giannini, an Early Childhood Specialist at Chicago Children's Museum, says, "Independent play fosters creativity. When children are encouraged to solve problems on their own, they come up with endless possibilities."
Problem solving and creativity are woven in the fabrics of the Parasol diaper, it's our DNA.
Does mom guilt fit into the equation?
You betcha. Personally, the first time I experienced my daughter independently playing with magnetic blocks in her playroom, I hid around the corner and watched her through the crack in the door. My initial reaction (after 2.7 years of exhaustively entertaining her), wow, is this happening?? It's super cute and peaceful in here. That was shortly interrupted by intrusive thoughts of 'oh how sad, she doesn't have a sibling yet, perhaps we should invite a friend over, should I sit and scroll through social media? Does that make me a bad parent?
I share this personal experience, at risk of sounding over the top, because I know I'm not the only one out there who feels mom guilt and it did find a way to weasel its ugly self into this independent play experience. Also, I do want to publicly say, "EFFFFFFF mom guilt!". But that's for another blog post ;).
Enjoy your moments of solitary Instagramming, pinning, or crushing goals during independent play, because its NORMAL and actually an IMPORTANT part of their development.
What are some tips to foster independent play?
Parent's are sharing what worked for them.
Check out our video with tips.