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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

7 Reasons Why You Should Encourage Your Kids to Play Alone

Photo by Andy Buckingham (Flickr)

Most children experience dozens of daily opportunities to play with siblings, friends, and parents. For example, my girls can play with peers at school, friends from the neighborhood, and their siblings and parents at home each day. These social play times are important for our kids' development, but children need time to play alone, too, as they develop into well-rounded individuals. We can encourage our children to play alone for seven important reasons.

Solo Play Teaches Independence

I want my kids to learn how to play nicely with others and interact appropriately in social settings. However, they also need to be comfortable spending time alone. Solo play teaches kids to make their own entertainment, rely on their abilities, be content alone, and develop independence. With these skills, our kids experience less boredom and become more confident and well-rounded.

Solo Play Improves Concentration

During a recent play date, I noticed how my girls and their friends flitted between the art supplies, building blocks, and basketball hoop. They had fun but really only spent a few minutes on each activity. Alternatively, when they play alone, my girls can spend hours perfecting a drawing, completing a puzzle, or practicing their jump shot. Solo play definitely gives our kids time to improve their concentration, a skill that's important in school and daily life.

Solo Play Develops Emotional Regulation

Sometimes, my girls wake up cranky, have a rough day at school, or feel upset about something that happened to them. In those moments, I encourage my kids to spend time playing alone. In their personal space, my girls unwind and relax with a calming activity like sketching, reading, or meditation, or they process their emotions as they jump rope, pound a drum, or ride their bike. No matter which activity they choose, my kids use solo play to recognize and regulate their emotions, which will help them in every area of life.

Solo Play Advances Imagination

Imagination opens doors of possibilities as our kids discover new solutions to problems, exercise their creativity, and expand their worldview. While playing with other kids can advance our kids' imaginations, children also tap into their creative side as they play alone. Solo play produces time and space for our kids to explore their interests, create appealing imaginary worlds, and nurture their creativity in unique and fulfilling ways.

Solo Play Builds Self-Confidence

As parents, caregivers, and teachers, we want our kids to feel secure, resourceful, and confident so they understand their value, stand firm against peer pressure, and create a fulfilling life. We can offer solo play time to enhance and build self-confidence. As our kids play alone, they explore their interests, values, strengths, likes, and dislikes. Solo play also helps our kids feel accomplished. With these tools, our kids become secure, confident, resilient, and successful now and for the future.

Solo Play Enhances Self-Discovery

Every kid is different, and this uniqueness is exactly what will set our kids apart as they fulfill their life's purpose. We enhance self-discovery when we give our kids time to play alone and explore their interests and passions. As they write stories, create art, and invent games, they learn more about what's important to them. Through solo play, we equip our kids to discover their inner worlds and what makes them tick.

Solo Play Boosts Academic Success

After school, my girls often sit together at the kitchen table to do homework or read, but they each focus on their own work. I see the same scenario at school as my kids sit near peers but complete their assignments independently. This ability to work alone is developed during independent play and sets our kids up for success in school. Solo play also equips our kids with improved concentration, emotional regulation, and confidence, additional factors that are essential for academic success.

Solo play is important for a child's development. Of course, our kids need to play with peers and adults, too, but let's provide plenty of opportunities for independent play as we help our kids mature and grow. In addition to the seven reasons I've listed here, what other benefits do your kids experience as they play alone?

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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