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5 Tips for Starting a Preschooler on Independent Play

5 Tips for Starting a Preschooler on Independent Play

Once a child is preschool-aged, do parents still have to provide constant supervision? asks Circle of Moms member Lexi C. "My son is 21 months now. Our house is safe and child proofed, including the front door...Is it ok to let him watch TV while I shower with the door open just across the room?"

Lexi's question, or variations on it, pop up frequently on Circle of Moms. Others have asked, for instance, is it okay to leave my preschooler in the living room while I mow the lawn outside, or do the dishes inside? Other moms, like Vicki D., just want their kids to to learn "to not need me every second."

While the answer will be different for every child, many Circle of Moms members find that by the time a child reaches the preschool years, they can play semi-unsupervised for short periods of time. Here, they share five tips for helping both you and your preschool-aged child gain a little independence.


1. Leave the door open while showering

For short spurts of time, such as when you are taking a shower, there are some ways to keep your child near and safe, suggest Circle of Moms members. "I don't watch my 2 year old while I shower," says Theresa J. "I leave the bathroom door open and she comes and goes. I think as long as the door is open (so you can hear him calling, or any crashes, etc.) then it should be OK for 10-15 minutes."


2. Use a baby monitor

Some moms have found creative ways to safely leave preschoolers semi-unattended for short periods of time. Becky L. suggests using a baby monitor. "Put a baby monitor in the living room with the receiver in the bathroom with you so you can hear him. If your house is child proofed you should be fine."

3. Establish rules

Some Circle of Moms say it is important to create situations where a preschooler is semi-supervised to help them transition to independence. But many, including Rachel D., say she creates rules and explains them to her 3 ½-year-old daughter.  I have semi supervised her since the time she was about 2 1/2. I feel that children need time to themselves as well, instead of a parent always hoovering around. They will become more independent, and learn some things for themselves instead of someone telling them what to do, how to do it. I laid down basic boundaries and she follows them. She knows what is right and what is wrong. Talk to your child about it. Let them know what will happen."


4. Play in an enclosed yard and watch from inside

Several moms suggest giving your preschooler a taste of independence by allowing him to play in a safe play area in the backyard while watching from an window inside. "I have always let my kids play what I classify as semi-unsupervised" says Rachael P. "Our back section is baby-proofed and fully secured so I have no worries of them escaping. They have toys, bikes and a sand pit that they love to play in so they are good as gold out there. I am often inside doing jobs while they are out there playing."

5. Play in the bedroom and check periodically

As long as the room is child-proofed, many Circle of Moms members and moms of preschoolers say they let their children play for short periods of time in their rooms. "I of course let them play in their room by themselves and checked on them often from the time they slept in a real bed and not a crib," says Colette.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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