As a parent, there’s a good chance you already know a little bit about the value of letting your children play with other kids. Playing with others helps kids develop social skills, learn the power of teamwork, and, quite simply, make friends.
Those are all major benefits worth remembering. However, you should also keep in mind that giving your children a chance to play on their own is also important. Solo play offers unique advantages that group play can’t. The following points will help you better understand how.
Developing a Sense of Self
During the first few months of life, children are entirely dependent on their parents. Playing with your kids at this stage is crucial to their development. However, child development experts also point out that eight months is the age when babies start to understand that they are separate individuals. Giving them opportunities to play by themselves (while you supervise, of course) helps them cultivate a sense of identity that will lead to greater independence later in life.
This ensures the relationships children form later are healthy. Babies who aren’t given the time to play on their own can grow into children and adults who seek friendships and relationships solely because they aren’t accustomed to being alone. On the other hand, kids who do get to explore their identities are more inclined to become friends with people who accept them for who they are. They don’t settle for poor relationships.
Play often involves striving towards some kind of goal. Whether it’s a board game, a sport, or a scavenger hunt, play is about achievement in many instances.
This is another major reason solo play is essential for young children. They need opportunities to learn that they are capable of reaching goals on their own. If they are always playing with others, they can’t develop the confidence that results from knowing they are fully responsible for their achievements.
Exploring Their Own Creativity
Childhood development experts also point out that playing with others, whether they be parents or friends, can place a degree of restriction on a child’s creativity. When other people are making the rules, they don’t have the freedom to decide what exactly occurs during play.
Solo play gives them this freedom. Instead of following the same set of rules as everyone else, children playing alone create their own rules and activities, developing their creativity while also exploring their personal interests.
It’s worth noting that kids will grow up to have boring experiences from time to time. Most people learn fairly early in life that having fun isn’t something that happens every minute of every day. When your child has downtime, they might rely on others to keep them occupied if they haven’t engaged in frequent solo play earlier. On the other hand, if they do get to play on their own from time to time, they’ll learn to keep themselves occupied in productive ways.
Again, playing with parents and friends is important. Don’t dismiss its value. Your children need chances to socialize. That said, they also need chances to be alone. When they get both, they’ll be far more likely to develop into happy and healthy people