Horseplay is developmentally beneficial for our growing children. If you have a kid who plays rowdy, then you need to hear this. We need to find a way to encourage this behavior rather than discourage it. In today’s episode, I am chatting with Frances Carlson, the author of the book Big Body Play. I found Frances’ work to be eye opening and I think you will too.
For some children, the need to move is just too much. They just have to let that energy out. And unfortunately they get labeled as misbehaving children, when what they are doing is what they need to develop. It’s like saying “if you get up and eat, you are misbehaving” – Frances Carlson
This year I flew solo with my kids from NYC to Norway. I wanted to be sure that we survived the voyage. So we invested in two Amazon Fire Tablets for my kids. My two-year old daughter received the coveted pink rubber device and my four-year-old son got the blue. They were pretty excited to say the least.
Warning: The following message contains sarcasm + tough love.
These tablets come with a lot of awesome perks. But here are two that stood out to me.
You can’t break it. Even though you will want to because this thing is as slow as molasses in January. These devices are housed completely in rubber and will withstand any abuse. This is an important message for young children: it’s totally okay to chuck expensive electronics across the room without risking repercussions. And in the event that your child has a Major League throwing arm or decides it’s cool to use it like a trampoline–a broken device will be replaced free of charge. #norules
It comes with a complimentary year of Amazon Freetime. Clearly I misunderstood what Freetime was before we bought these devices. I was under the guise that free time was an important part of childhood. A time that was meant to imagine, create, dance, and frolic freely. But alas, this is a different type of Freetime. This Amazon Freetime provides your child the opportunity to fill all his free time with infinite options for entertainment from the comfort of the sofa in the air-conditioned living room.
But you might argue, it’s educational–right?
Wrong. Young children are not meant to be educated by screens, they are meant to be educated by humans.
I don’t keep it a secret that I hold strong feelings about excessive screen use in early childhood. This information is not meant to shame–but instead to bring awareness that scaling back on the amount of time your children get each day is important.
Here’s the heart of the issue: Free time has become feared among parents. I am talking about the real free time, not the Amazon version. Over the past generation parents have developed the sense of responsibility that we are on the hook for entertaining our children all.the.time. We are now responsible for filling the free time.
And, y’all…that’s a lot of pressure.
We are parents, not entertainers. When we try to be entertainers, we are robbing our children of valuable opportunities to learn, create, explore, plan, and problem solve. There isn’t definitive research that shows screen time is harmful for young children. Because the screen itself is not the issue. The issue is what they are missing out on while watching screens.
With this dramatic change in free time, our children aren’t playing. Childhood disorders are on a rise and childhood play is on the decline. Research has shown us that we are seeing more childhood obesity, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, stress and sensory integration challenges. Play is decreasing and childhood disorders are increasing.
Without play, our children are suffering. Here are seven things your child is missing out on when they are watching screens:
Brain Development. Sometimes we use screens because we just want our children to sit still. But the truth is, our kids need movement for brain development. The brains of our children will suffer without significant amounts of running, jumping, playing, and nature every.darn.day.
Physical Activity. Our kids are becoming inactive. Rates of obesity in childhood are rising as our children are consuming more technology. When they are watching screens, they are still. Movement is a virtue of childhood, not stillness. The brains and bodies of the next generation depend on it.
Learning the Right Things. Did you know that ABC Mouse can teach a 2-year-old all of her letters? That’s great, except the only value of this skill is bragging rights that your 2-year-old knows her ABCs. In the first years of life the right brain is under major construction. It rules our language, social skills, creativity, trust, and intuition. These first years provide an important window of time for developing these skills, which are best nurtured through human-to-human interaction and hands on open play
Sensory Input. When our children spend most of their days inside in temperature-controlled environments, they are losing vital sensory exposure. They miss the feeling of wind on the face. The sensation of sweat beading on the forehead. The surprise of a loud firetruck rumbling by. Humans have evolved to be outside and the implications of nature-deprivation that our children are facing are still yet to be understood fully.
Socialization. Our children need to socialize with us and with other children. They rely on these interactions to build social skills for future relationships. The development of their language and future relationships relies on strong socialization that starts in childhood.
Connection. It is difficult to be emotionally connected to a human when you are physically connected to a device. The emotional well-being of our children is dependent on the face-to-face human connection and presence that the parent-child relationship provides. Even though your child might look busy when they are on their device, they need you.
Confidence. When children have ample time to play freely, they are able to practice independence and develop confidence. As adults, we know how easy it is to disappear behind a screen. Removing screens will give our children the practice they need to start “showing up” confidently in the real world.
Children need more free time to get back to the basics of play, but it doesn’t happen overnight. If your children are in need of a screen detox, be prepared they will likely pass through the Kübler-Ross Five Stages of Grief.
Denial. They may not believe you at first.
What? Is this a joke? You aren’t serious are you?
Anger. There will be volatility.
How could you do this to me? You are ruining my life!
Bargaining. They will try to negotiate and sweet talk.
If you just let have my tablet for 20 minutes, I will clean up my room.
Depression. There will be tears.
You are the worst mother ever. I miss my tablet. Do you want to see me sad?
Acceptance. They will move on, grow, flourish and play.
Hey Mom, look. I just built a teepee out of some sticks in the backyard and now we are using these cotton balls as marshmallows on our pretend campfire.
So there it is, the reasons your kids might need a screen-detox and how to get it started. I am here to say it’s possible. You can reduce screen time in your home, even if the task seems daunting.
But it’s not just at home. As I wrote this article my children were at story time in the public library. When they emerged I discovered the librarian had been showing them musical YouTube videos on her tablet during the 30 minutes session. We could absolutely just sing songs without video accompaniment. But it is becoming second nature to add this additional stimulation into our children’s lives.
But can we change that? Can we reduce screen time for the sake us our children’s health and well-being?
What are the challenges of setting boundaries around screen time for your children?
Never underestimate what your children are learning through play. In the early years, play is the main vehicle for learning and education. In today’s episode, I will be introducing you to the importance of play. We chat about stages of play, types of play, and what role that adults may have in play.
He was gone for only a minute, I swear. But when I found him, my 4-year-old son had gathered every bottle of herbs and spices that we own. They were intentionally lined up across the kitchen counter from one end to the other. He was in the process of scooping and blending a special concoction and when I walked into the kitchen. My eyes grew large and my teeth clenched as I mentally calculated the grandiosity of mess that was about to go down.
Deep breath #2. Relax shoulders. Unclench jaw. “Hey buddy, what are you doing in here?”
He looks up, “I am surprising you and making your favorite drink.”
In previous days, he had in fact, helped me to make my favorite detox drink out of turmeric, ginger, and cayenne. But due to the fact that he can’t decipher the difference between between ginger and garlic powder–he was just winging it. With the best of intentions, of course.
I took a third breath, a breath of gratitude. Grateful that I didn’t spew out obsenities about the hypothetical mess. Grateful that I didn’t shame his thoughtful efforts. Grateful that I am raising a creative, helpful boy that is far from perfect but has a heart of gold.
Our kids rarely behave exactly as we expect. That doesn’t make them bad. It makes them typical not-yet-mature humans who are fumbling their way through life, attempting to figure out what is and what isn’t socially acceptable. In fact, many of us adults are still doing the same–am I right?
So let’s figure out our goals. Are we raising little soldiers to stand in a straight row? Or are we raising children to be passionate, innovative, and independent humans? If you are interested in the latter, read on for 10 tips to raise well-behaved humans.
Children “do as you do, not as you say”. That means they are learning behavior directly from you. They will model your attitude, your responses, and your frustration. The #1 tip for raising well-behaved kids is to behave well yourself. Easier said than done, I know.
2. Empathy is your friend
Walk a mile in your child’s shoes. The more you understand about how a child develops, the more you will be able to find the extra dose of calm and patience and allow the process to unfold. Imperfect behavior is part of growing up. We must make mistakes to learn from them.
3. You are your child’s first teacher
A child isn’t misbehaving, they are learning how to behave. Discipline isn’t about rewards and consequences, it’s about education and connection. Don’t feel the pressure to dole out consequences for every indiscretion. Instead, trust that your good behavior and relationship with your child is educating and disciplining your children in far-reaching ways that are beyond immediate comprehension.
4. Approach with inquisition
I could have approached the kitchen mess with “What the #$%^ are you doing in here!?” But instead, I chose to approach with inquisition. My son’s intention was in the best of places, but he needed support to execute his project. Try to avoid shame and accusations and instead take a look at the intentions and help to provide the guidance needed to grow and develop.
5. Never hesitate to hug
The physical and emotional connection that a hug provides can bring calm to both the adult and child. At times, parents are hesitant to hug because they feel like they should be “firm”. But for real, just HUG. As our children grow, their small bodies experience overwhelm and stress that is often beyond their control. This small touch and gesture can go far in bringing us all back to baseline.
6. Playfulness changes everything
When you have small (seemingly irrational) beings in your house, they can go from 0 to 100 quickly. They can be smiling one moment and screaming the next. A little bit of playfulness can turn-that-frown-upside-down and keep the day flowing. The next time your child refuses to put on her pants, put them on her head and put her shirt on her legs. Chances are that both you and she will laugh, soften, and cooperate.
7. Don’t get comfortable
Children change like the wind. What works one day will inevitably not work the next day. Accept that and be willing to grow and change with your children. Just when you feel like you have them figured out, they will surprise you. Spoiler alert: You will never figure them out. Instead just listen, learn, and be present.
8. Simplify your explanations
Do you ever find yourself talking and talking and talking and no one is listening? Then stop. Young children will respond better when you say it in a Tweet rather than a novel. If you want to use your words to explain why a behavior is inappropriate (or even better, explain what a more appropriate behavior would look like)–then keep it simple.
9. Pick your battles
Sometimes kids are annoying (is there a more polite way to say that?). Try to pick your battles, breathe and let go of annoying behaviors and save your energy to intervene with unsafe behaviors instead. The act of letting the little things go isn’t neglectful, it’s smart.
10. Choose your language wisely
“Have you been a good boy?”. There are few phrases I loathe more. What does that MEAN anyways? As an adult, I am unsure of exactly what the terms “good-boy” and “good-girl” mean. If we have a certain behavior we want to see, we need to be specific. Telling a child to “be good” is vague and confusing. The result is that children spending their days wishing to be good yet unsure of exactly what that means or how to reach that unattainable goal. Since young children think in concrete ways, their black and white thinking may lead them to the following conclusion: “If I can’t figure out how to be good, I must be bad”.
The words we use with our children become part of their inner voices and dialogue. Think about those common expressions…”you are old enough to know better. Act your age.” The way you speak to your child is, in part, programming the brain and thought patterns. Choose direct, shame-free, language when possible.
As they grow, our children are going to surprise us in the most beautiful and frustrating ways. How we react to those surprises will form an intricate part of their inner peace and decision-making skills. So let’s love our wholly human and imperfect children unconditionally.
Child behavior is anything but straightforward. My children are well-behaved, but as humans–they have their “moments”. As parents, we can feel powerless when our kids aren’t cooperating or being respectful. Today on the podcast I am explaining how we blend positive parenting methods with some strategies and techniques. One technique in particular that we are discussing is “time-out”.
Time-out is often overused and misused. I give you 5 tips for using it successfully, as well as 4 shame-free ways to execute it (you might be surprised, none of these involve sticking your kids nose in the corner).
Do you ever use time-out? Have you found it to be successful?
The words that we speak to our children become their inner voice. And the average woman speaks 20,000 words per day. While we can’t always be intentional in the way we speak to our children, we can do better.
In today’s episode, author Tracy Cutchlow and I are discussing how to speak to our children. We talk about the impact that our words have and strategies for improving our language to encourage a “growth mindset” (+all about what that means).
What does it mean to “raise successful kids”? Today I am chatting with Krista from A Life in Progress. I knew I could rely on Krista to bring some excellent perspective to this topic and she comes through in this episode. When it comes to life, Krista thinks outside the box and walks off the beaten path. She has raised three young adults and considers her kids to be her greatest teachers. Krista and I are diving deeper into the idea that there is more than one path to successful parenting and perhaps raising “mediocre” kids might not be so bad after all.
Parents spend a great deal of time and money baby-proofing the home. But how does this process impact our kids? Today, I am chatting with Nicole from The Kavanaugh Report.Nicole and I are both passionate about creating a home that is child-friendly rather than child-proof. That means that we are thoughtful to design our homes with both the children and adults in mind.
How have you created a home that is child-friendly?