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 actually 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.
Yet 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, with exploring and finding out for themselves. When we take this step back - we nurture their independence; allowing your child to become self-reliant, to learn from their mistakes, to explore new environments at their own pace – resulting in them immensely developing 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 through taking a step back and letting them be in ‘charge’ sometimes 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: