There are loads of benefits when it comes to giving your toddler quiet time, like boosting imagination and focus. But not every toddler adapts to quiet time easily. In fact, the transition to solo quiet time can be a source of anxiety for toddlers who don’t like to be alone.
That doesn’t mean your little one can’t learn to love quiet time; he just needs your support to feel okay being out of your presence for a bit.
What to Do When Your Toddler Doesn’t Want to Be Alone for Quiet Time
All little ones have a temperament that’s all their own. That’s what makes them unique! Most babies and toddlers experience phases of separation anxiety, but those with a “slow-to-warm-up” temperament may be especially wary of spending quiet time alone. To help your toddler feel comfortable with even brief periods of solo quiet time, you can:
- Participate in quiet time with your child.
No rule says you can’t enjoy quiet time with your toddler. Not only will it make him feel comforted having you by his side, but he can still gain the benefits of quiet time without worrying about you not being there.
But, there is a catch: Try to focus on the quiet part of quiet time. Make a cozy spot for yourself in his quiet area where you can also settle in to do a calm activity you enjoy, like reading a book. Avoid distracting or noisy activities so that your toddler learns that this time is for quiet play, relaxation, and maybe even a nap. He’ll see what you like to do during quiet time, which helps him learn to follow your lead.
- Help your child engage in an activity.
Your toddler is less likely to be afraid of quiet time when he knows what he’s supposed to do. Help him understand what quiet time is by engaging him in activities that are suitable for a relaxing break. You can pull out a puzzle, look at the pictures in a storybook together, or lie down for some cuddles.
- Give your child a special item of yours.
After a few days of joining quiet time (or more if your child needs it), you can try stepping out of his quiet area, even just for a few minutes. Give him a warning, like: “In five minutes, I’m going to leave the room. But I’ll be back just a few minutes later.” It’s important to stick to the “just a few minutes” return time.
When you leave, give him a blanket, t-shirt, or something else that smells like you or can remind him of you. A picture might do the trick, too. It could be comforting enough to ease the transition between having you there and being alone.
- Make your child’s solo periods just a tad longer.
Once you feel that your toddler is comfortable enough being alone during quiet time, you can start to make his solo time slightly longer. Increase it by just one minute each day if you need to. The idea is to make it a gradual change to help your toddler feel more at ease being alone.
- Stick to a routine.
Routines help toddlers feel secure. As you establish quiet time in your home, try to make it a consistent task, however it fits into your schedule. When he knows what to expect with quiet time and when to expect it, it will become easier for both of you.
Following these steps can help your toddler learn to love quiet time. If it takes him months to feel okay with you leaving, that’s fine! He’ll still get the benefits of quiet time while getting some extra special bonding time with you, too.