Anna is 8 years old and I have been working with her for nearly 3 years on playing independently. She likes to be close to me and her play skills are delayed but emerging. I’ve been using a sticker chart since mid-March for Dominic and Anna. They have a list of chores, tasks, and behaviors for which they can earn stickers. When they earn 5 stickers, they get 30 minutes of one-on-one playtime with mommy or daddy. When the entire chart is filled up (20 stickers total), they get to purchase a small toy from Target; Dominic has been buying Bakugan and Anna likes baby items like bibs and bottles for her baby dolls, George and Audrey.
One of the things they can earn a sticker for is independent time. From 4:30-5:00 p.m. every day, they are required to play independently, either upstairs or outside. They can play together but not with me. At first, Anna would sit at the top of the stairs and ask repeatedly, “Is independent time over? Is independent time over?” They would fight and bicker and tattle on each other. I would calmly and quietly direct them back upstairs or outside and remind them it’s independent time. This week, they are staying put for the entire 30 minutes!!! A few times, I’ve overheard them playing together, imaginary play, and it makes my heart soar. Dominic is so good for Anna, even though he causes her so much stress.
I’ve been enjoying my 30 minutes of solitude… it’s even worth the 30 minutes it takes me to clean up after them (with their help, of course). 🙂