“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” — Ann Landers, American advice columnist.
As children start growing up, their dependence on parents decreases and eventually, they become independent, fully functioning adults. Every parent wants to raise an independent adult who is capable of decision-making and self-control as these are essential skills for a successful, happy life. Studies have also shown that a gradient of childhood self-control has an effect on outcomes later in life when they become adults.
Independence can be fostered in children in multiple ways such as:
These may seem pretty basic but if introduced in the wrong way can come across as a punishment. In this article, we will cover how to introduce ‘alone time’ for children to start exploring independence. Alone time is not about neglecting a child and will require you to put in significant effort into making it an enjoyable time for your children while they learn to be independent.
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’Alone time’ can be introduced to most children above the age of 3. Before you introduce alone time to your children, you should create a safe environment for them to practise alone time. Select an area where alone time can be implemented.
Note: You should be able to see children and ensure they are safe.
Here are a few things you can do to create a safe space:
Now that you have an inviting safe space ready for your child, create a schedule for an alone time such as Sunday morning from 10 am to 11 am will be alone time for everyone at home. Ask them if they would like to add anything else to this safe space.
Like every other planned activity that you do with your children, set an alarm for the duration of alone time. Invest in a visible timer or sand timer for better results. Ask your child to set off the alarm so that they feel in control of their alone time. It will reduce the parent-child conflict. Pick your battles while negotiating alone time rules such as no noise but can have snacks etc. Keep a maximum of three rules so that children can remember them easily. You should observe what your children are doing from time to time without interrupting them.
Here are a few things to keep in mind during this time:
Congratulate your children on completing alone time. Reward them for being by themselves for that duration and solving all their problems on their own. Ask them about how they felt and if they would like to add or remove something in the next alone time. It will help you understand how they are coping with this change and make the necessary changes.
As your children start enjoying alone time, you can increase the duration of the session and introduce more complex activities with fewer rules. We recommend that you take one step at a time and use your parental discretion while making these decisions.
Are you excited to try this out? Have you used the alone time concept or something similar before? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Moffitt, T. E., et al. (2011). A gradient of childhood self-control predicts health, wealth, and public safety. (2011). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the U.S.A. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1010076108
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