Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Won't Stay in Independent Playtime

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I think just about every child goes through a time period when he or she tests the waters of getting out of independent playtime over and over again. Reasons can vary from not wanting to play to testing the boundaries when something new like potty training comes along. The question parents have is, what do you do about it?

Make Sure Time is Right
There are times of day that are better for independent play than others. Right before a meal is not good. Right before a nap is not good. Some children are fussy in the evenings, making evening not a good time.

Make Sure Length is Right
If independent play is longer than is appropriate for your child, your child will get restless toward the end of independent play and want to get out. See Independent Playtime Lengths for more.

Make Sure Toys are Age Appropriate
A toy that is too young for your child (not stimulating) will not be of interest to your child. Your child will then not want to stay in independent playtime. Conversely, if the toys are beyond your child's ability, your child will become frustrated and seek help to use the toy. 

Along the same lines, keep toys rotated. Even an age appropriate toy can get boring after too long.

Teach Acceptable Behavior
Once you are sure the timing is right and the toys are right, explain to your child what is and is not okay. Explain that your child is not allowed to get out without permission. Do explain when it is okay to get out. I would suggest you have a monitor in with your child so you can hear (and see if you have a video monitor) if your child needs you. 

Return Child Immediately
When your child gets out, return the child to independent playtime even if it is time to get out. If it is time to get out, return your child, reminding her that she needs to wait for Mommy to get her out. Then wait a minute or two and get her out. You want the precedent to be that the child gets out when you get her.

Use the Clock
You can tell your child the time on the clock when she can get out or you can use an "okay to wake" clock.

Work on Obedience
If your child obeys you, your child will stay in independent play until you come and get him. If you find your child is not listening to you well throughout the day, then you will not fix independent play issues by changing toys or time of day will not fix the issue.

Praise Obedience
When your child starts to stay in independent play until you come get her or until it is time, be sure to tell her she did a great job and thank her for obeying you. 

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AnnDee said...

I'm wondering how you explain to others about IP. How do I explain without it sounding like I lock my kid in their room for an hour? :) I understand the benefits, and have seen how it has helped, but I have a hard time explaining it to family/friends who have never heard of or done it.

J.R. said...

hello there...first of all, I really want to thank you for this blog...it's been a life saviour many times, but coming to business...my son is 1 year and two weeks old...I've used baby wise methods since he was a newborn, but never tried independent play...I want to start it because he is getting really attached to me lately...he doesn't want to play alone and is getting very disobedient...he sleeps great, but doesn't handle disruptions very well...my question is: how do I start IP with him? He sleeps in a camp cot so I don't want to use it but find it cruel to close the door of his room to leave him there (because otherwise he will just follow me when I leave)...I've read you started IP with Braiden when he was around the same age...can you please help me with some good tips??? thank you so much again for your blog...ahhh sorry for any grammar mistakes...I'm a missionary from Brazil but live in South Africa, so English is not my first language...God bless you!!!

Plowmanators said...


I just tell them they play in their room alone each day. Most people are just impressed and jealous :) If they ask further, I give them more information about why.

I think it is best in answering questions to keep the answer basic while answering, and if they want more info, they will ask for it.

Plowmanators said...


Check my post on starting late. Do you have access to a baby gate? You could try that.

Essentially, how I did it with Brayden was we started by playing in his room together at the playtime each day. I slowly removed myself from playing and just observed him playing. I then started him out for five minutes alone. We added five minutes at a time. I think it took us about a month to go through this whole proces and have him up to 15 minutes at a time.

johnpeterjohn said...

you are so damn good looking..
cool math 4 kids


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