How can children be encouraged to play alone?

Play is a process in which all senses are actively stimulated for the child. For this reason, the child acquires the most permanent experiences of his life through play. Observation alone is not sufficient for a child’s learning, but the child must re-experience what he observes through play. However, the game is very important not only for the cognitive development of the child, but also for the emotional development. Children express all the emotions they feel through play. Sometimes it’s hard for them to talk about a bad memory, but through play they freely express their anxiety, fear or anger. In this context, play is spiritually healing for the child. In addition, the game has a great role in the realization of secure attachment, which is our most important defense shield in life. It is not enough for a mother to love her child sincerely, she has to show and feel this to her child concretely. Staying in the moment with the child during the game, accompanying all the emotions he feels strengthens the emotional bond between the child and the parent. Every child desires to play with their parents. In fact, play is a way of establishing a relationship with the child’s parent. However, it is very important for parents to encourage the child to play alone. Thanks to the game, the child will learn to produce new ideas independently from others, to develop hypotheses to solve the problems they experience, in short, to cope with problems through trial and error. Encouraging the child to play alone is very important for gaining these skills.

Developmentally, the child starts to play alone at the earliest age of 3 years and later. In earlier years; The child needs the parent to accompany him during the game. The main reason for this situation is that the child is not yet at the cognitive development level to play independently. For free play skills, the child must have reached the stage of symbolic play. The symbolic play period starts with the age of 2, but it starts to gain its most qualified state at the age of 3-5.

As in the example below, the parent should offer him the opportunity to manage his own game by asking questions and leaving the choice to the child.

An Example of Dialogue

Come on, let’s line up their cars, shall we?

What color car would you like to put next to the blue car?

Where should we take the cars? To the zoo or the playground?

As children’s attention spans get longer and their imaginations develop, they are ready to play alone. When they play together, the parent should give the child the right to choose, encourage him to produce new ideas, and enable him to become active.

However, sometimes the parents do not take over the leadership role in the game and do not give the child the right to choose their own game. Playing games under the constant leadership of parents causes children to not develop features such as making decisions on their own and solving their problems independently. In addition, this attitude can lead to parental dependence in children. Under these conditions, the child has difficulty in playing alone. The child has difficulty in controlling his negative emotions and finding solutions by being patient in the slightest crisis he encounters during the game. Therefore, he expects his parents to accompany him at all times. The ability to play alone is an indication that the child is separated from his parents and is on the way to becoming an individual. In this context, the main task of the parent is to support the child in making decisions and producing new ideas in the game.

Children begin to become independent in the game step by step by the age of 2;5. In earlier years, they can continue their games mostly with the guidance of their families. Completely independent play is observed in children after the age of 3.5. As of the age of 2; 5, children should be encouraged to take the lead in the game, and by the age of 3, 5, children should be encouraged to play alone.

As Ann Pletshtette said, the biggest supporter of children’s early development is the way people who take care of them play with them.

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