Non-interference in Free play
Isn’t it a treat to watch a toddler play! Although, it might not be a treat for a toddler when we watch them play.
Let’s assume that the toddler is playing in a physically safe space. Let’s say the child is building a tower. Have you felt the urge to tell the child to build the tower in a particular way and which parts go first? Usually we end up instructing the child with “how to play RIGHT”. We may instruct them on how to play, what to play with, when to switch to another toy, what not to do and so on. Some of us may not be able to hold ourselves back from physically entering the toy-child dynamic. Some of us also feel uncomfortable when our child doesn’t play with a toy in the way it is meant to be played with but makes use of it in another way. We do all these things simply because we want our children to learn and make the most of their play.
But then it stops being FREE PLAY.
If we allow instruction-free play, over time we might get to witness some extremely creative things.
Allowing space for free play nurtures the roots of self confidence, autonomy, self efficacy, creativity, concentration, focus, openness and simply the space to be oneself.
Note: After the child has explored a toy, it’s okay to teach or nudge the child towards playing with it in a certain way without insistence that it’s the correct way to play.
- Sit next to your child while they indulge in freeplay.
- Observe the minute details about the play.
- Watch out for an internal urge to interfere or instruct or react.
- Instead of acting on it just breathe and remind yourself to relax and be patiently open.
- Observe how frequently and intensely this urge arises in you. Breathe and let it go every time.
- Let the child play with a particular toy for as long as the child likes.