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How To Use Alone Time To Foster Independence In Children

Team StoryWeavers|June 21, 2022, 17:57 IST| 2

Fostering Independence In Children

“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:

  • Giving children the responsibility of a couple of household chores
  • Allowing children to make their decisions sometimes such as choosing a toy within a certain budget
  • Encouraging children to pick up after themselves
  • Appreciating children’s effort when they try doing things on their own without external help

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. 

(Click to read the section)

Before Alone Time

’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:

  • Babyproof the designated area. Remove everything that can potentially hurt your child. 
  • Make it cosy. Put in rugs, pillows, and blankets. 
  • Keep lots of books for your child to explore. You can keep picture books or fabric books for younger children. 
  • Place a few toys that your child loves in this corner. Children love colouring so ensure that your child has access to a colouring book and crayons. Place a small whiteboard and markers for them to draw or write. 

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. 

During Alone Time

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:

  • Repeat the duration of this alone time. Write it down. Let children see how much longer the alone time is going to last. 
  • Reiterate basic safety rules such as no eating chalk, call for help in case you get hurt, etc. It is always better to provide explicit instructions that are clear and short to younger children. 
  • Let children know if they are allowed to leave the designated alone time area. 

After Alone 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

About the Author

“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She wholeheartedly believes in the quote by Arthur Rubinstein that says – “if you love life, life will love you back”. She is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grades 2 & 3, as a part of the Teach For India Fellowship. These little girls have a special place in her heart, and when she writes for children, she writes for them!

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November 17, 2020

I had done this before …. Without parents , I had gone to a room that I have selected and keep all the best things I would like to have….and enjoyed dt that alone time,


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