Monday, December 11, 2017

This is an open question that doesn’t have just one answer (like most parenting questions we all have). This time, I would like to continue our conversation on the importance to provide quiet time for our children. In my previous post we briefly talked about the generation with too much entertainment. We all agree that it’s great to start this alone time routine from the beginning of our child’s life, ideally from day one. But what if your child is four, and he is not used to play by himself. I am pretty positive, he will greatly benefit from starting at this age as well. The same goes to a mom of a ten year old that always wants an adult by his side. 

First, I will share with you some tips you can try with a newborn baby. As soon as they are born they want to be with their moms most of the time. But not ALL the time. Our job as their parents is to figure out when is the best time we can let them be on their own. It doesn’t mean you can’t be in the room with them. You can be in a quiet corner just observing and not interrupting their alone moments. The best tool I have ever seen or used with the little babies is a wall mirror. I have mine next to their floor bed (basically mattress on the floor). The little one can lay down next to the mirror and study his own face, moves, and other things that might grasp his interest. You are more than welcome hang a real image mobile for the child to observe. Soon he will try to reach it, and later on he will be able to make it move! What an exciting achievement you can set up for him to experience. Notice, none of the above will require your participation. Your job is to prepare that “environment” for the baby, and he will do the rest by himself. This is his first step to trusting the world around and to feel safe and secure in his own room. Later on, this child will most likely enjoy being in his own room (and sleeping there too). If you feel ready and the nursery room is safe, step aside for a few minutes to let your child do his observations without your presence. If he cries, come back and talk to him, pick him up if needed. I don’t believe in “cry it out method”! It might work for the parents, but it never works for the child’s emotional health. (One day I will probably write an article about this, but not today). With each day, repeat the same “quiet time” routine and increase the time you leave your baby in his safe place. Both of my kids liked to be alone after their nap or morning play time. Of course, it changes. For example, my daughter would play on her own and fall asleep right after that. She did it for up to six months. Then, when she learned to crawl, she would change her “schedule” and prefer being with her mommy in the morning  but would take her time in the evening to play quietly by herself. Some days she would refuse to be left alone even for a minute. Those are the days when you take them with you even to use the bathroom. We all know those “special moments”. Another thing to keep in mind is your child might not feel well, or is too tired to play by himself. And that’s fine. We are not there to “train” our children to do something against their will. We are there to provide the opportunity for them to learn and experience something they actually like and want to do. 
Vasilisa's favorite exercise!  
Next part is for those of us that have toddlers and would like to help them enjoy their quiet time. Each child is an individual and what works with one might not work for another. I am sharing some tips that helped my children. Toddlers that refuse to play on their own, most likely don’t have that experience yet. There is a big social impact in playing with other kids, and it requires lots of learning from our little ones. But it’s important for their development to know how to be alone as well. Start by offering a new game or a toy that your child can play on his own. Make sure it’s not too challenging and not too simple. Introduce it with an enthusiasm and excitement. Spend a few minutes by child’s side and then step a side for some time. If your child is old enough, you can tell him that you will be in the other room folding laundry. Don’t worry if he runs to get you right away. This experience is new for him, so it’s normal to be nervous. Come back and spent some more time with him. You can try to leave later. The same can be practiced at the park. Find nice and safe place your child can enjoy, and be a few steps behind. This will let him experience a new feeling of nature around him, observe a bug in the grass, or chase a bird. Ask him to collect rocks, sticks or leaves and then he can come up with a game to use these “toys”. Children's’ imagination is limitless, if we don’t interrupt them and let them be free (within limits, of course) they can surprise even themselves.
Rodion's quiet time choice
If we are consistent, little by little our kids can get used to their quiet time and you will be surprised to observe how much new they will discover! And most importantly how much they will like this new feeling of being a little more independent. 
Next week we will talk about safety tips to keep in mind, while you prep your home for child’s quiet time. 
You can find some of our favorite tools for children's quiet time here (also, check out Shop With Us page for more ideas and activities):

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