Advice on helping kids be OK by themselves

Posted: June 05, 2013

D EAR ABBY: I would like to respond to "Solitary Woman in Ottawa, Canada," the expectant mom who asked how she could raise her child to enjoy "periods of quiet, reflective fun by himself."

When my son was born, I felt it was important to give him confidence and the ability to be self-sufficient. Therefore, we have him help us with chores and encourage him to make healthy, responsible choices. When he was 2 and stopped taking naps, we told him that he had to have "quiet time" and that reading to himself was one of the options.

As a result, our son is self-motivated, an avid reader and writer, and has an intellectual curiosity most adults don't have.

I am concerned for people who are afraid of silence. I suspect it's a sign of sensory bombardment. The human mind needs moments of clarity brought on by reflection. - Dad Who Gets It

DEAR DAD: I received many thoughtful comments from people who identify strongly with "Solitary's" point of view:

DEAR ABBY: "Solitary Woman" should provide stimulating crib and playpen toys to teach her son at an early age that he can control some aspects of his environment. Having this ability is the key to enjoying solitude.

- Smart Mama in El Cajon, Calif.

DEAR ABBY: When an infant cries, wait a few minutes and listen before reaching out. This gives the baby time to learn how he feels with himself, and to deal with it emotionally. After five minutes or so, if the baby has a real need, then you can reach for him. Doing it too quickly prevents this crucial process of learning to be with oneself.

- Another Solitary Canadian

DEAR ABBY: Introverts get their energy from quiet time alone; extroverts get energy from being with other people and sensory activities. Wise parents will learn their child's personality traits and tailor their parenting to help him/her have the best learning situations possible.

- Mary in Texas

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