What I’m Reading: “Bringing Up Bebe,” Alone Time

There are so many commonalities between Ezzo parenting and French parenting. Bringing Up Bebe discusses the need for children to have alone time. The Ezzos suggest that we have a daily structured alone time in the form of room time. The benefits to the child are plentiful.

Off the top of my head, I can think of several benefits of alone time. The child:

  • Learns to play independently and doesn’t rely on a parent or sibling to show him how to play. The intellectual and academic benefits of this are far-reaching.
  • Gets some quiet time, well beyond the age when naps are outgrown.
  • Learns to be happy being alone. I know of some adults who find it difficult to be alone. I can’t imagine not having my alone time!
  • Sleeps and self-soothes better. The baby who is never alone will wake up and cry if he realizes he’s in his bed alone.
  • Learns important focus and concentration skills, playing contentedly without distractions.
  • Is secure in his own skin, comfortable in the quiet with nothing but his thoughts and a few toys to occupy himself.

French parents and psychologists agree with the benefits of alone time:

“A psychologist quoted in Maman! magazine says that babies who learn to play by themselves during the day–even in the first few months–are less worried when they’re put into their beds alone at night. De Leersnyder writes that even babies need some privacy. ‘The little baby learns in his cradle that he can be alone from time to time, without being hungry, without being thirsty, without sleeping, just being calmly awake. At a very young age, he needs alone time, and he needs, to go to sleep and wake up without being immediately watched by his mother,'” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 53-54).

Such alone time is reportedly very important to French parents. The author discusses one mom’s story:

“Martine also teaches her kids a related skill: learning to play by themselves. ‘The most important thing is that he learns to be happy by himself,’ she says of her son Auguste…. It’s a skill that French mothers explicitly try to cultivate in their kids more than American mothers do. In another study, of college-educated mothers in the United States and France, the American moms said that encouraging one’s child to play alone was of average importance. But the French moms said it was very important,” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 65-66).

French parents and the Ezzos are alike in their description of “helicopter parents.”

“Walter Mischel says the worst-case scenario is for a kid from eighteen to twenty-four months of age is, ‘the child is busy and the child is happy, and the mother comes along with a fork full of spinach. The mothers who really foul it up are the ones who are coming in when the child is busy and doesn’t want or need them, and are not there when the child is eager to have them. So becoming alert to that is absolutely critical,” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 66).

So whether you leave a child alone during free play or schedule room time every day (or both!), make sure your child has enough time to simply play and to play by himself. Make alone time a priority!