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Why It's Important for Children to Play by Themselves

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A picture of a girl hosting a tea party for her dolls

Imaginations are always in motion when you encourage your children to play by themselves.

Photo © Jamie Grill / Getty Images
When children play by themselves, they're learning many valuable lessons they'll carry with them throughout their lives. Solo playtime helps your kids become well-rounded individuals who are happy whether they're in small groups, large crowds or alone.

Teach Them to Have Fun Independently

Kids who play by themselves learn to have fun on their own. They don't count on others for their happiness and entertainment.

As your children grow, they understand that they won't always have someone by their side every waking moment. They'll be more confident and satisfied individuals.

Bring Out Their Imagination

You may already feel like your child is full of imagination. Just wait until you step back and let them play by themselves.

The time alone will draw out superheroes, princesses and other play situations you wouldn't get to see if they weren't engaging in solo playtime. They'll be quick to think on their feet and their creativity will really shine.

Develop Their Social Independence

Kids who play by themselves develop a strong sense of independence. They don't have to be around another person or a group of people at all times. This social independence will help them feel comfortable in any situation.

Playing alone doesn't encourage your children to shy away from others with this newfound independence. It actually prepares them for whatever your day holds, a morning of solo play, an afternoon with your playgroup or an evening sleepover with a friend.

Encourage Calmness

Playing outside gets them riled up. Playing with others gives them a lot of interaction.

Playing by themselves brings a sense of calmness to your kids. This time playing alone takes their mood to a different level as they peacefully play with their toys.

Show Them How to Soothe Themselves

Kids want to know we're there for them when they need us. That won't ever change.

But learning how to play by themselves also teaches them to self-soothe. They count on you always but they also learn to look inward to become their own problem solvers. Your children begin to understand their own emotions better and can start communicating those feelings with you too.

Let Them Feel Comfortable When Alone

As much as you would like to, you can't interact with your children 24/7. You have chores to do and meals to put on the table.

When your kids know how to play by themselves, they don't rely on you as much to be their entertainment director. They also realize you're not ignoring them by not playing with them. They'll soon look forward to their time for individual play.

Get Them Ready for School

For preschoolers, you're probably the number-one playmate your children have ever known. As you back away and show them how to play by themselves, they understand that you're not always physically going to be there with them.

Playing by themselves gets them ready for school since you won't be able to go sit in the back of the classroom with them every day. They don't feel abandoned because one day you drop them off at school, making them feel like you've left them alone for the first time. Instead, they've developed those calm and self-soothing feelings and can feel comfortable taking on a new adventure without you there.

Give Yourself Some Downtime

Everyone deserves time to themselves. Even the grown ups.

Another perk of teaching your kids to play by themselves is that you earn a much-needed break. This isn't your primary goal, of course, but the time you spend alone is also a good example to your children. Your kids can see you enjoy doing the things you love alone and that you don't need someone else's attention 100% of the time to be happy.

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