No more Cling On: Independent Play in a YES space

Note from yours truly: It’s a special post coz you get to watch clips of Alia play! 🙂 

Do you also have (or had) a Cling On at home? Wait, what’s a Cling On? It’s a term my husband and I came up with to describe Alia when she’s super duper clingy! We went through a phase where she wanted to do nothing but attached herself onto me, literally! I couldn’t leave her side without her crying. Forget about leaving the room to cook or go to the bathroom, she’d cry if we’re a few feet apart. And there were days when she’d play with her toys WHILE holding onto my shirt. I’m not kidding… On Cling On days, I was very exhausted by 11 a.m.! Forget about naptime, I was definitely ready for bedtime hehehe! 

This happened quite often when Alia was around 11-13 months old. I asked around (aka Google “Why is my child very clingy?”), and people said that it’s a phase. Honestly, for awhile I thought that this Cling On thing would never ended… 

Not only it was physically and emotionally draining, but this Cling On phase got me worried that she wouldn’t develop the ability to play independently. Independent play means that a child is able to  explore the objects and space in his environment without an adult assistance. In other words, the ability to entertain him/herself. Let’s be honest, we all need some downtime during the day, and it’s almost impossible to have one when you have a clingy child who decides to strap him/herself onto you all day. Sigh… 

Fast forward a few months later, we saw a BIG change in Alia. She’s now able to play independently in her play area (YEAH!!!). A few things happened: first, she’s older (she’s 20 mo), and second, she has a “YES” space which allows her to explore and engage in activities that she enjoys. I learned about the term yes space at a parenting workshop. It’s a space for children where they hear much more yes than no – an environment that is inviting, age-appropriate, and allows for freedom and independence. In our current unit, we converted the dining area into her play area. And we arrange the space so everything is accessible to Alia. This is her current yes space: 

With her increasing ability to play independently, I’m able to do more housework during the day and have some downtime (aka check Facebook and Instagram while sipping a cup of tea heheheh). Some parents have suggested that I let her watch TV so I can get some stuff done. Alia does have some screentime (mostly Youtube Kids), but only for 30 minutes a day while I do meal prep. And we only have the TV on in the morning to watch CBS Morning (mainly coz I heart Charlie Rose :p). I feel that she has her whole lifetime to become tech savvy and explore the Internet. So I’m very happy to see her develop the skills to use her space to explore and be creative and imaginative. At this age, I expect her to play independently for 10-20 minutes at a time. Lately, I’ve been encouraging her to play independently after lunch so I can do the dishes and do some dinner prep. 

Okay, now do you want to see her in action? 😀 

(Song: Play Together from Music Together) The video above was taken in the evening after we spent the afternoon outside. I was in the living room reading. 

The second video was taken sometime this week. This is her routine lately after we finished eating lunch. 😀 

I think every now and then I’m going to videotape her when she’s playing independently. It’s fun to see what she does when she’s alone. Plus it’s a great learning tool for me as a mom and teacher to see how she explores her space. Yeah to no more cling on days! *knock on wood

4 thoughts on “No more Cling On: Independent Play in a YES space

    • Thanks, Betsy! 🙂 I posted our diy toys that I made up until she was 12 months old. I’ve some catching up to do – so much to write, yet so little time.


  1. Asti says:

    I’ve been in your shoes mbak.. I was even thinking there’s sth wrong in my parenting activities or else.. I followed suggestions to let my daughter watch TV. The result? we wasted our time by doing nothing except watching TV together for almost a whole day 😦
    Now, in her age of 29 months, she can do independent play for almost an hour


    • Hi Mbak Asti. I’m amazed by what I see in her everyday! Tapi iya lho, aku sampe mikir kalo anakku bakalan lengket terus sama aku kayak amplop sama perangko. :p


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