Let him play.

This isn’t a new concept.  It isn’t a new subject.  It may have been driven into the ground by heavy handed enthusiasts like myself.  But it matters…at least to me.

My good friend has the care of her 6-year-old grandson for several days.  When we were talking on the phone she expressed her exhaustion with the constant care and concentration required.  There is no room for reading a book while he vroom-vrooms his trucks.  He wants her attention.  He wants to play games with her or have her read to him.   Her grandson doesn’t go and play.

He is a city child.  He is the child of working parents.  But, more importantly, he is the product of a new era in which children cannot be set out safely to play on their own for various and sundry reasons which are all rational and reasonable.  But he, along with millions of children, is cheated of free play.  He doesn’t run around the grass chasing butterflies.  He doesn’t lie on his back watching clouds and dreaming.  He doesn’t haul rocks from one side of the yard to the other to build a wall or a fort or a mountain unattended.

On the other hand he is privileged.  He has golf lessons, art lessons, music lessons, play dates, and will soon have organized sports.  His time is filled with learning and structured play.  He can read well, speak well, write well and communicate easily with adults.  After all, he’s an only child.

I have a request.  If you recognize this child or are raising one like him,  begin early allowing him to entertain himself.  If you must be with him for his own safety, then lie down on the floor or on the grass and let him wander about exploring.  Pretend you are asleep.

Let him be captivated by a dandelion puff or a dust bunny.  Let him taste dirt and draw pictures with a stick.  Let him figure out how to get the ball out from under the porch and the toy car from under the couch. Let him imagine what the pictures in his books mean.  He will make up stories of his own or re-tell those he has already heard.

Let his imagination run wild and his play be free.  For his sake and for ours.



  1. Great post and so true. I have two only children, since they’re 19 years apart. I resist entertaining my 4 year old, and he usually does pretty well on his own. He’s zooming around the living room right now, playing with his fighter jets without any interference from me. I hope as he gets older that he gets better and better at entertaining himself. I think it’s essential to enjoy one’s own company, and the only way we learn that is to be left to our own devices sometimes.


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