13 - 15 Months

Toddler independent play tips

Toddler playing with the Wooden Peg Drop by Lovevery

When your toddler plays on their own, they develop concentration, problem-solving, and autonomy. But your toddler likely needs help from you to learn to play independently ❤️

4 tips for supporting independent play

1. Stay close

Different children have different levels of comfort with separation, which can vary day to day and hour to hour. Simply remaining close, quiet, and still is a great place to start for toddlers who aren’t ready to play by themselves. Once your child seems content, you can try quietly scooting behind or beside them and out of their direct line of sight. You can gradually move farther away, but most children at this stage will want to visually check-in with you.

2. Trust their process

Resist the urge to swoop in and show your child the ‘right’ way to do something. Their play is all about trial and error, and they need to investigate their own way as they figure out a plaything. This helps them learn to trust their own process, which is an important part of learning to play independently. 

3. Narrate to keep them going

As long as they’re occupied in safe, solo play, try to encourage them to keep going on their own. If they make eye contact or show you what they’re playing with, describe what they’re doing and wait to see if they really need you. For example, if they’re playing with pegs, you can say, ‘I notice you tapping those pegs. Tap, tap, tap!’ Then wait to see if they will do it again on their own.

4. Let them struggle before you help

If they’re struggling to fit a peg into a hole, for example, try this: 

  1. Observe them first, then offer only the smallest amount of help. Point to the hole and say, ‘Try it again! The peg fits in the hole.’
  2. If they get more frustrated, help them just a little bit more—this may mean orienting the peg the right way or sliding the very end of it into the hole and inviting your child to tap the rest in.
  3. If they start to move on to something else, you can demonstrate how to put the peg in the hole, and then let them try again. Try it with your hand over theirs so they feel what it’s like to be successful.


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Posted in: 13 - 15 Months, Problem Solving, Concentration, Lovevery App, Independent Play, Child Development

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