My Child Prefers to Play Alone: Should I Worry?

The fact that your child prefers to play alone doesn't have to be a problem. Find out when you should be concerned in the following article.
My Child Prefers to Play Alone: Should I Worry?
Ana Couñago

Written and verified by the psychologist Ana Couñago.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

What if your child prefers to play alone rather than socialize with other children? Is this a problem? Should you be concerned? We’ll address this issue below, although there’s no single answer to these questions. It all depends on various factors related to the child in question and the situation they’re in.

Independent play is essential for the proper development of every child, especially during the first years of life when children begin to explore the world and the environment around them. Generally, at the age of three, the dynamics of play change. In this sense, in addition to playing alone, children begin to show interest in playing with others.

Keep reading to find out when you should be concerned if your child only wants to play alone.

My Child Prefers to Play Alone: Should I Worry?

The benefits of individual play

Children who play alone often tend to develop a high level of creativity and imagination. This is because they’re used to inventing stories in which their toys or themselves experience a multitude of adventures.

In addition, through individual play, children get to know themselves and discover their own interests. What’s more, they learn to build a wide and diverse inner world to enjoy every day.

Another advantage of this type of game is that children acquire greater autonomy and independence by relating to their environment alone. Furthermore, they’re always the ones who make all the decisions and assume the consequences of them. All of this is very positive for the development of responsibility and problem-solving.

In short, individual play is very enriching for child development, but this doesn’t mean that children should play alone all the time.

As we said, this type of play is fundamental for the growth and learning of the little ones. However, so is playing in the company of other children of the same age. That’s because playing with others is the best way to acquire certain social skills and values such as empathy, cooperation, negotiation and teamwork, among others.

“Play is not a break from learning. It is endless, delightful, deep, engaging, practical learning. It’s the doorway into the child’s heart!”

– Vince Gowmon –

My child prefers to play alone, should I be concerned?

If your child prefers to play alone rather than play with their peers, in principle, you shouldn’t be overly concerned. It may simply be a phase.

Keep in mind that every child is different and goes at their own pace. Right now, your child may not be enthusiastic about relating to others. However, over time, they may not have difficulty socializing.

However, the situation may be considered a problem when the child is continually reluctant to play with other children, whether at recess, the park, birthday parties, etc. In these cases, it’s important to find out why this happens. It may be because of shyness, lack of social skills, or another more serious reasons that need to be addressed immediately.

Therefore, if your child has a preference for individual play, as long as they’re well-balanced and don’t frequently show negative behaviors toward the idea of playing with others, you shouldn’t need to worry.

My Child Prefers to Play Alone: Should I Worry?

Importance of playing alone and with others

In short, as we’ve seen so far, through play, children acquire numerous competencies and skills that are useful for life. In fact, as the famous Italian thinker, psycho-pedagogue and cartoonist, Francesco Tonucci, states:

“All the most important learning in life is learned through play.”

As a mother or father, you should always keep this sentence in mind and make sure that your child enjoys both individual and group play. Neither type should replace the other; rather, both should complement one another.

Therefore, it’s important to encourage both types of play. That way, your child can benefit from the advantages that each one offers to their correct cognitive and emotional development.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Meneses-Montero, M. y Monge-Alvarado, M. Á. (2001). El juego en los niños: un enfoque teórico. Revista educación25(2), 113-124.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.