Help! My toddler sucks at independent play!

Something I’ve been grappling with for some time is Tristan’s inability to play alone when he’s at home with me. At school I’m told he plays well alone and with others so it’s not as if he can’t. But when we are at home and I need to get things done, whether that be cooking, going to the toilet or just sitting watching him play, most of the time he can’t and won’t play alone. I say most of the time because as I sit here writing this post he’s playing merrily with his trucks ON HIS OWN! Yes I’m in the same room as him and occasionally help by putting a truck back together or whatever, but he’s entertaining himself and it’s actually a joy to watch! My toddler sucks at independent play.

My toddler sucks at independent play

Personally I feel that kids of stay at home & work from home moms have a harder time learning to play alone as they are very fortunate to have us around all the time and we as these moms (well I sure do) feel guilty if we aren’t entertaining them all the time. But actually I think I’ve gone about this the wrong way. Being available to Tristan all the time and always playing with him has maybe made him believe that he needs me to play with him when we’re together.

So in order to encourage alone play time I try and start playing with him then slowly extract myself from the activity. I never leave the room completely (not just yet) and engage when he asks me. But it’s a slow process; some days it works and it’s wonderful to see him playing independently and his imagination come to life, and other days he stops playing and whines as soon as I remotely look like I’m not actively participating in the activity. Swings and roundabouts!

But persevere I shall because as much as I love playing with Tristan, it’s vitally important for him to learn to play alone and use his budding imagination!


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