As important as it is for kids to learn to play with other kids, it is equally as important for kids to learn to play by themselves. The 1st born obviously has no choice but to play by themselves at 1st, but as more siblings come along all your kids basically have built in playmates often causing the younger siblings to never develop this necessary skill & causing older 1s to lose the ability almost completely. Why is it important for children to have time by themselves? Playtime is essential, almost therapeutic for kids. It allows them to play through things they may be feeling or experiencing. It gives them the oportunity to be creative & let their imaginations run away with them. It raises their emotional quotient as well. ("Emotional Intelligence, or EI, describes an ability or capacity to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of one's self, and of others" according to The Institute for Health and Human Potential).
How should you go about accomplishing this? Dedicate a chunk of time each day (1/2-1hr at least) that you have all your kids spend time playing by themselves. You don't always have to give them toys to play with, sometimes give them some books to read or puzzles, turn on some music for them to enjoy, etc. Just change it up every now & then minus television. For younger kids who are used to having their sibilings around constantly, they may have a lil' bit of a hard time dealing with it at 1st & beg you to come play with them. Over time, you will start to see positive changes & improvement. As they get better with it, sometimes you can start taking 10 minutes of time to play with them special (one on one), but make sure they also get that alone time still. It will definitely payoff in the end!
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