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Playing Alone Time

by Ronald A. Rowe | August 11th, 2010 | Preschool

Somewhere along the way, progress started to interfere with our children’s ability to entertain themselves.  Somewhere between the advent of the hand-held video game and the introduction of 200 channels of on-demand programming, kids have lost the knack for playing with plain, old fashioned toys.

Don’t get me wrong.  It’s great that my children have options I never dreamed of when it comes to their entertainment options.  The Nintendo DS is a tremendous blessing on long car rides and in waiting rooms.  But I feel like the boys are missing out on a wonderful world of imagination if they’re continually entertained by some sort of outside stimulus.

It is a battle to get them to play by themselves for even a little while.  You’d think I was sentencing my four year old to eat broccoli and read Tolstoy when I ask him to spend 15 minutes alone in his room playing with his massive cornucopia of toys.  The older one will invariably choose reading a book when sentenced to a little alone time.  And while reading is essential and I don’t want to dissuade him, a little time exercising his imagination wouldn’t be so bad, either.

Studies have clearly shown that children who are constantly entertained will not develop the skills to entertain themselves.  Children who have the ability to entertain themselves generally do very well in social interactions as others will seek them out as a substitute source of entertainment.  While the link is less conclusively shown, it seems clear to me that children who know how to keep themselves entertained will grow up to be creative and entertaining adults.

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