This Is Why Your Kids Need Alone Time
Let’s face it: Solitude has a bad rap, and we completely underestimate its power. In fact, most people are afraid of solitude because of the misconception that it’s the same as loneliness.
Loneliness is a negative state, characterized by isolation. There is a marked sense of emptiness, which has the potential of leaving us feeling hopeless and vulnerable. Solitude on the other hand, is the state of being alone without feeling lonely. It’s a comfortable and content state of engagement with one’s self.
If we watch our children play alone, they seem happy and totally oblivious to the concept of loneliness. It’s only when we begin to suggest that there’s something wrong with spending too much time alone that it’s an issue. Only then do they start to disconnect with the part of themselves that’s not afraid to be separate from others.
What do we fear about being alone and how might we help our children relish the healing and meditative powers of solitude?
Why choose solitude?
Solitude is a powerful tool for every human being. It’s a personal space for inner-reflection, personal growth, thinking, imagining, dreaming, and creating. It’s a state that we should be nurturing within both ourselves and in our children.
In learning to be comfortable with our solitude, we gain a wealth of ideas to entertain and comfort us – a huge inner world opens up that makes us less likely to ever be lonely.
Learning the power of being alone
How do we teach our children to be comfortable within their own silence and learn to honor the time that they spend apart from others?
- We need to let our children know that being alone is a positive and natural state. When they are happily playing alone or quietly reading, don’t assume that they are lonely and ask them if they are okay or want to have a friend come over and play. Instead, make their alone time a positive thing and a sacred part of who they are. Let them know that it’s a perfectly natural to spend quality time alone.
- We have to learn to make time and create space for ourselves to be alone so that our children can view alone time as a positive thing. Statements like, “Mommy is spending some alone time with herself right now and she really likes this time,” can help our little people feel positive about having their own alone time and recognize it as a natural process and healthy state.
- It’s never too early to teach our children the power of meditation. Enough studies on the human brain have shown us that meditation has the ability to create an overall sense of well-being. Encouraging our child to go within and connect with themselves on a very intimate and personal level will help them to find comfort in being alone, and teach them to rely on themselves during stressful or difficult times. Put on a CD of the ocean waves crashing and let them be lulled by calming sounds of nature.
- We can also encourage our children to create special rituals, such as keeping a diary or journal, and make that alone time a special part of their daily routine. Whatever activity brings joy to our child, we should encourage them to spend some time alone each day imbued in what gives them pleasure.
- Until our children cultivate a healthy sense of solitude and learn to feel comfortable being alone, exiling them to their room as a form of punishment may send out the message that when they are “bad” they are expected to be isolated from others. Imposing a “time out” in the same room with us can help preserve their alone time as a positive thing. As they become more confident in being alone, we can then introduce the option for them to go to their room. That always worked with my own little ones.
As we grow and evolve within our own personal journey toward solitude, we teach our children the difference between choosing to be alone (solitude) and allowing themselves to feel alone (loneliness). This knowledge could easily be one of the most valuable and powerful lessons that we will ever pass on to them in their journey toward becoming “conscious” human beings.
How do you feel about giving your children alone time… and do you seek solitude yourself? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.