On My Own

I can't leave my son to play on his own for 5 minutes. What can I do about his need for constant attention?

There is so much pressure on parents to provide constant stimulation for kids. Flashcards, educational games, math camp, art lessons, physics for preschoolers, the list goes on. But let's not forget a very valuable skill we can teach our kids: the ability to keep themselves amused (not to mention a few minutes for mom to brush her teeth in peace!)

1) Be realistic: The goal is not to leave little Billy down in the basement with his LEGO ® while mom naps for a couple of hours. The younger the child, the shorter the time span for independent play; 5-20 minutes is reasonable.

2) Turn off the tube: There's no question TV can be a convenient way to keep kids occupied, but they still need to learn to play independently without all that external stimulus. Try turning on a favourite CD during playtime instead.

3) Start small: Hang out in the next room for a few minutes at a time (throwing in a load of laundry, putting away groceries) where your child can see you but not interact. Always praise them on your return for having played on their own (even in the beginning when they’re more likely just to stand at the baby gate calling your name!).

Nanny Carrie's Tip: For the little ones, use dwindling naptimes to practice independent play. This works especially well if your toddler is still in a crib. Toss in a few toys and have designated 'quiet playtime.'

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Author: Nanny Carrie

Nanny Carrie always knew she wanted a big family, so she made it her business to borrow everybody else's children until she had her own. You can find her embracing the organized chaos of life with five kids and loving (almost) every minute!

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