Hints and tips on how parents can nurture and support this age & stage
Unsurprisingly, encouraging independence in young children takes time and patience. Some children are naturally more content in their own company but for others, playing independently can be a bit of a struggle, particularly if they have had play done for them from an early stage.
The point I’m making here is that unfortunately, without meaning to, we often inadvertently teach our children that their own play is not good enough. Through our own excitement, we play for our babies instead of trusting in the contentedness they often have at that age. We play little games for them, rattle things in front of them and show them how the things they are playing with work rather than letting them explore their toys and environments for themselves.
When we trust that they really don’t need to be entertained by us, we actually teach them to be content with their own discoveries - through their own excitement, while exploring and finding out for themselves. When we take this step back, we nurture their independence; allowing our child to become self-reliant, to learn from their mistakes, to explore new environments at their own pace – resulting in them developing faster and boosting their confidence and self-esteem.
This is not to say that I am I advocating for you to not be involved in your child’s play but sometimes taking a step back and letting them be in ‘charge’ really does have some wonderful benefits.
Here are some tips on how you can develop and encourage your 18-month-old’s independence through play: