Teaching solo play

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Teaching solo play

Playing alone. Getting your child to play alone is one of the biggest questions I hear all the time. There is a fine line because parents love to play with their child, and then it's like, "Okay. I need to get a few things done now. Go play by yourself." Just saying to your child, a one or a two year old, "Go play." It doesn't make a lot of sense for a child. It is not concrete. Take them into their toy area, plop them on the floor -- you can't squat. You can't just kneel over, because then they know you are going to flee. Sit down, hang out, start talking to them about their toys. Take a little train and run it along the track. As soon as you start to see your child modeling some of your behavior, back off. Sometimes parents get so excited in the play, that they take over, and the child ends up watching them. The goal is, you are teaching them to play so that you can go get something done. Another thing is, they will bring you something to open. They'll say, "open, open." Well, I don't want to do it so perfectly because then they are going to come to you every single time. So, I'll kind of grunt and groan a little bit. Help me? And hand it back to them and they feel the success of the moment. Once I see that my child is busy playing at the moment, I'm going to say to my child, "Okay. I'm going to go into the kitchen now and put the dishes in the dishwasher." Give them a lot of different ideas. It gets them more comfortable walking away from me. Then they will get some new ideas that they can do.

Watch Donna Holloran, MSW's video on Teaching solo play...


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Donna Holloran, MSW

Parent Educator

Donna Holloran moved to Los Angeles from Indianapolis in 1984 to pursue her graduate education and to continue building on her passion---working with young children and their families.  After attaining her MSW from UCLA, Donna also received a Certification in Infant Mental Health.  She practices as a parent educator and child development specialist. In 1996, Donna founded Babygroup in Santa Monica, California.

Babygroup provides guidance and insight to parents of infants and young children in small, intimate parent-child groups, inspiring parents to recognize and respond appropriately to their child’s developmental needs. Babygroup is also about developing strong friendships for parents and children, resulting in a true community of support.

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