Feb 062008

Time Alone For Your Only Child

If you are one of those parents who feels guilty about an evening without a playmate or a play-engagement for your only child- then this article is for you.

An example

Consider the case of Rachmans. The couple could never agree on the issue of time alone for their only child. While Judy, the mother, could never rest easy while watching her child play alone, Donald believed that their child Laura would indeed benefit from time alone. Which one of them is right?

A common feeling

Many parents of only children feel unease and unrest while watching their only child play alone. Either they immediately try to fix up play engagements for their child or pitch in and offer to stand in as playmates themselves.

While playing with your child can indeed be an enriching experience for both parent and child, one cannot really match up to being a child’s peer. On the other hand, one should not shy away from giving the only child some time alone in the name of keeping loneliness at bay for him. “I think it is guilt,” says Laurel. “When I see my only child play alone, I wonder to myself- ‘if only I had given my son Michael a brother or sister to play with, would he have been so alone?” The key word here is guilt. Many parents of only children feel guilt over not giving their child a sibling to play with.

Sibling rivalry is real…

As mentioned in other places, in many families, siblings don’t even see eye to eye- leave alone play together. And it is an impractical idea to bring forth another child just so your child may have ‘someone to play with and not be lonely’. What studies repeatedly drive at is that a sibling is hardly a solution to the problems the only child may face.

Being alone is not bad

Parents have many means of filling up a child’s time- like enrolling him in various classes, getting him to participate in team activities and so on. But more often than not, parents fail to value a child’s “time alone”. What is time alone? It is a time the child gets at his disposal to use how he pleases. (It does not mean the child is left alone in the house without parental attention!). During time alone, the child learns how to fill the time at his hands, without seeking aid from parents, peers or friends. It is not the same as being lonely. Rather, it is an opportunity to “be with oneself”.

The Only Child can enjoy time alone

Very often, children and adults alike sparkle in company but fail to make the grade when they are left on their own. On the other hand, studies indicate that children who know how to fill their time alone learn to engage themselves and rarely feel isolated or lonely.

It is a capacity they build for themselves to be content with the situation at hand and be able to use the time in a way that gives them pleasure and joy. “It is heartwarming to watch my child Bonnie play on her own. She celebrates imaginary birthday parties with her toy friends, has fun with her paints and serves us tea in her tiny cups. She has a way of keeping herself engaged. It is good to see that,” says Mona, proud mom of a five year old only child.

Important skills only children learn from having time alone

  • Your only child will get creative when he finds that he has to find a way to fill his time. He may find joy in play-acting or creating games he can play alone.
  • He will learn not to complain of boredom. Many children expect to be entertained all the time. Children who have their time alone know what to do with themselves and not get bored.
  • It is an acquisition for a lifetime, wherein the child will not seek continual emotional or peer support and knows how to ‘be with oneself’. As he grows older, this ability to be with oneself will stand him in good stead.
  • Time alone will help him appreciate time with others. He will truly relish other’s company and learn to treat his friends and peers more tenderly. He will truly understand the value of companionship as he has experienced time alone.
  • The most important benefit of having time alone is the child will never feel ‘lonely’ now or as an adult when he has to be alone. He will in fact find creative ways to fill that time.



 Posted by at 7:51 am

Only Children Forums Only Children and ‘alone time’

This topic contains 5 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  MADS 5 years, 9 months ago.

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    Time Alone For Your Only Child If you are one of those parents who feels guilty about an evening without a playmate or a play-engagement for your only
    [See the full post at: Only Children and ‘alone time’]

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    I remember loving alone time! I never thought of it as a punishment, in fact I was hoping for it. That was the time when I would invent games or be a little more creative than I used to be around my parents. I guess it all boils down to the strategy you use; my mother made it clear that alone time wasn’t a punishment; it was my chance to do things as I wished and to learn to appreciate small things.


    Lana Chapman

    They’re both right actually. The reason why is because everyone needs alone time some time, especially an only child. Even though and only child gets more alone time, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. It is still good to get them to spend time with other kids their age, but sometimes alone time will help them, it gives a child time to think and imagine. Being an only child was rough, but it felt great at times. To be not deal with a screaming brother or sister was a joy for me. I knew kids who had little sisters and brothers who were always crying or screaming and alone time was hard for them.

    With that said, an only child still needs to get out there and meet other children. It may be hard, but it must be done. They can’t have alone time forever.


    Brenda W.

    I think it is a benefit for an only child to be alone during the day at some point. That time is when they unwind and are able to be there own little person. If they cannot have friends around them all the time, having alone time is just as important.



    I am a kid who loves alone time. It rocks. I can do whatever I want, craft, read, meditate, and do a vast variety of other things. Being an only child, I am raised to enjoy the company of adults, which I enjoy more than a conversation with my 7th grade peers, who are very insecure, immature or both. I prefer the intellectual stimulation and cool stories that I get from talking to adults. Introverypted isn’t bad, it is creative and smart, but you have to learn to be like ” judge me I dare you” instead of being shy. I have never been shy, but introverted and calm like my father. I believe that the introverted and those who spend more time alone are more philosophical and calm, which in my case leads to happiness




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