parenting

  • The Benefits of Boredom

    The Benefits of Boredom

    “I’m bored.” Of course, you have no doubt heard this phrase from your kids. It’s an all too common chorus at home that causes parents to sigh and sometimes scramble for things to do. However, boredom is not a bad thing. In fact, there are many benefits to boredom. Especially in today’s age of instant gratification, it’s important for your kids to be bored. In fact, having that feeling of boredom allows for creative exploration. Here are some ways boredom fosters play.

    Here are 3 benefits of boredom

    Benefit of Boredom: Kids Start Pretending

    First, role playing, acting, and other types of pretend play is one of the best benefits of boredom. Encourage your children to play house, school, or other games where they act and become their own characters. One way to do this is organizing your home play space intentionally. Having a pretend play area is as simple as having a box or bag of costumes or props. Listen to the creative stories and ideas your children come up with as they pretend play. Refresh your pretend play bin with old Halloween costumes or shirts or outfits you’ve outgrown (in style or size). If you’re comfortable, throw in some safe make-up to let your kids have fun with their own unique styles. Next, have a building play space with boxes, blocks, or loose materials where your kids create and pretend. Believe it or not, big kids love doing this too! Pretend play is one type of play to come out of boredom.

    Benefit of Boredom: Art is Created

    Have you ever let your child use your phone or an electronic device with a camera? Look through the camera roll and check out the unique views they have of the world when they seemingly are bored with nothing else to do. Another awesome benefit of boredom. Photography is also art, and some of the coolest pictures on my phone are when my kids snap what they see from their own vantage point. In addition, having art materials accessible and ready in your home (even small simple things like recycled paper and pencils) is an outlet for those moments of boredom. Of course, playing with different mediums and art helps your students discover more about themselves and take that boredom into creation mode. Overall, artistic play is definitely a way to turn boredom into imaginative exploration.

    Boredom Give The BrainTime to Imagine

    Research from Doctors Erin and David Walsh in Psychology Today show that the parts of the brain which engage in creativity and imagination activate when we’re bored or seemingly unengaged. This unfocused “bored” time is the perfect channel for play and new ideas. Since kids’ brains are thrown external stimuli, another benefit of boredom is that it gives kids a chance to take a break. They think about things they are passionate about, want to create, and explore new ideas! Boredom is the fuel for creativity. Overall, boredom is not a bad word when it comes to your kids! Look at these ways that boredom fosters play. By organizing your play space and allowing your kids to be bored, their imaginations can engage in activities they may not normally explore. How can boredom become play time in your home?

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    How to effectively teach a child to entertain themselves

    How to teach play skills & What to do when a child can’t entertain themselves One of the reasons children struggle to entertain themselves is because they don’t have the play skills they need. Play is not just a way for your child to have fun, but it is how children integrate ideas and concepts…

    Episode 4: Responsive Parenting + Play to Address Child Behavior

    On this episode of Play Learn Thrive, Alanna speaks with Sheena Hill, psychotherapist and sleep coach. During their discussion, they touch on how to engage in responsive parenting over behavioral modification, and how to better connect with your young children when they’re struggling with right choices. Main Takeaways: Any time your children are under stress,…

    Read More

  • Why big kids need play, too

    Why big kids need play, too

    Renowned educator Maria Montessori described 12-18 year olds as budding social justice advocates. Children in this stage are developing who they are and how they can be of service to the world. Pre-teens and teens are deep thinkers. These adolescents are very serious and dedicated to figuring out what the world is about and how they fit into it. Physical and mental changes make this can be an exciting and challenging time for youth. They need opportunities not only to blow off steam, but to play and develop their creativity. Yes, big kids need play, too!

    Socialization and Play

    Many teens and tweens have their own devices to connect to others digitally. Unless it’s during structured activities, clubs, or organized sports, teens rarely have unstructured “play” time. As kids become more independent, it’s unlikely for parents to push this free play. Although big play groups may not be appropriate at this time, encouraging your older kids to connect with their peers offline when it’s safe to do so is so important for their mental health and well-being.

    Exercise and Play

    In our current pandemic society it is even harder for young people to have opportunities to play with their friends, and it is increasingly important for the adults in their lives to make space for them to let their play muscles get exercise. Getting kids off their devices can take a little maneuvering or persuading sometimes, but it’s not always hard to distract them from their digital presence. Encourage your tweens and teens to get outside, hang out with neighborhood kids (when it’s safe), and explore. Let go of the fear that they will get in trouble or get hurt. Riding bikes, taking a walk in a nearby park, or going fishing are playful activities that get the body moving and teens playing! Play some music at home and have a dance party. All of these activities will help your older children play and move.

    Tinker and Play Like a Child

    It is pretty hard for anyone to eschew bubbles. In addition, it would be a challenge for a teen to ignore dry ice in a kiddie pool and a few PVC pipes and a hose. A refrigerator box and a can of paint, a giant piece of wood and spray paint, stickers and an old dresser, and water squirters are all things that would likely captivate a teen if a willing adult started in on it, quietly…and offered encouragement. There are few young adults that wouldn’t be ready to start creating and playing with materials if you started a Rube Goldberg machine with some ping pong balls, dominos, cardboard and masking tape. A tray with some nuts and bolts and magnets on the coffee table might be enough to get a digital addict to put the device away for longer than you might think possible. Fill a kiddie pool with sand and pretend you’re at the beach. Spray each other with the hose. Or simply run through a sprinkler. Sometimes all it takes is permission to encourage sensory and constructive play.

    Pretend Play

    Youths are often natural dramatists, we see this as parents when their hormones rage and their feelings are strong. Kids are also so creative and want to put on a show. There’s a reason TikTok is so popular! Channel this ability into doing some fun drama games. Charades can be corny for youth sometimes, so have the kids come up with some guessing games that incorporate creating characters and personalities based on celebrities or family members. Make your own rules to make it personal and laugh together. Finally, have them just act out their own skits or plays. Parents know how important it is for children to be children. Older kids can have a hard time remembering this, especially with the weight of the world on their shoulders during the pandemic. Make some time to bond with your big kids and make PLAY a regular part of your DAY.

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    How to effectively teach a child to entertain themselves

    How to teach play skills & What to do when a child can’t entertain themselves One of the reasons children struggle to entertain themselves is because they don’t have the play skills they need. Play is not just a way for your child to have fun, but it is how children integrate ideas and concepts…

    Episode 4: Responsive Parenting + Play to Address Child Behavior

    On this episode of Play Learn Thrive, Alanna speaks with Sheena Hill, psychotherapist and sleep coach. During their discussion, they touch on how to engage in responsive parenting over behavioral modification, and how to better connect with your young children when they’re struggling with right choices. Main Takeaways: Any time your children are under stress,…

    Read More

  • Social Emotional Learning In Your Home

    Easy Ways to Incorporate Social Emotional Learning Into Your Home Routine

    Now, perhaps more than ever, the letters S-E-L are on everyone’s lips. Parents, teachers, students, children, and families are experiencing stress and anxiety at this time. It’s often hard to know where to begin. Social emotional learning can help the whole family manage feelings, maintain relationships, and adjust positively to change.

    We know that kids learn best through play. their development hinges on active involvement. So how can we bring social emotional learning into our home routine?

    Gratitude helps social emotional learning

    So much research has been done on the power of gratitude. People who practice gratitude experience the following:

    • better physical health
    • more optimism
    • increased resiliency

    To begin, gratitude is a mindset, and it may or may not require a shift in your family dynamics. A great time to practice gratitude is before a family meal.

    Coming together and talking about your day and what you’re thankful for is perfect social emotional learning practice.

    Like everything our kids learn, modeling is powerful. Check your own words and actions. First, make certain you are saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in your daily activities. Next, be specific when you thank someone. For example, say “Thanks for making dinner!”

    Practicing gratitude as you go about your day is a great example for kids and will feel natural after a while. Notice your surroundings in the backyard with your kids. Are you grateful for your trees that give you shade? Your tomatoes that are growing so well? Make a point to say it out loud!

    Kindness is Key

    Have a kindness contest. Download a pre-made kindness printable or make your own and hang it on the fridge. Kindness activities might include things like ‘let someone else go first’ or ‘do an extra chore’. Set an individual and a family goal for how many acts of kindness you want to complete each day. Even better? Try to do an act of kindness without getting caught!

    Turn Taking and Patience

    Patience is a challenge for many of us, regardless of our age. Playing a game of Monopoly, Candyland, or UNO is a fun way to incorporate a host of skills, including taking turns. Board games also offer opportunities to practice winning and losing gracefully, as well as having conversations and maybe even using strategy. Taking turns is a great way to practice social emotional learning.

    Mindful Breathing

    Children can benefit in so many areas of their lives by practicing mindful breathing.

    Among other things, mindful breathing can:

    • strengthen self-control
    • lower anxiety
    • improve emotional regulation skills

    One way to practice mindful breathing is to ‘cool off the pizza’. To do this exercise, tell the child to pretend there is a hot slice of pizza in front of him. Have him take a deep breath in through his nose (to smell the pizza) and then slowly and steadily blow on the ‘pizza’ to cool it off.

    The behaviors currently filed under ‘social emotional learning’ have been around forever, in the form of manners, good citizenship and self-awareness. Regardless of what these skills are called, life is much easier when they are worked into our home routine!

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    How to effectively teach a child to entertain themselves

    How to teach play skills & What to do when a child can’t entertain themselves One of the reasons children struggle to entertain themselves is because they don’t have the play skills they need. Play is not just a way for your child to have fun, but it is how children integrate ideas and concepts…

    Episode 4: Responsive Parenting + Play to Address Child Behavior

    On this episode of Play Learn Thrive, Alanna speaks with Sheena Hill, psychotherapist and sleep coach. During their discussion, they touch on how to engage in responsive parenting over behavioral modification, and how to better connect with your young children when they’re struggling with right choices. Main Takeaways: Any time your children are under stress,…

    Read More

  • How to Learn About Your Child’s Interests

    You’re so busy doing the maintenance work – changing the diapers, making the meals, bandaging the knees. But do you actually know what makes your child tick? What do you know about your child’s interests?

    Let’s talk about why you would need to know these things. The thought behind Child-Led Learning is that when a child is in charge of her own learning, her engagement is much higher. This increased engagement results in more motivation and ultimately better learning.

    Knowing that play is the work of the child, it’s helpful to acknowledge that what may look like play to most of us, is actually how the child is learning about the world around her.

    You as the parent know your child better than anyone else. So how can you get a handle on what your child’s interests are? In short, be present. Often we as parents are pulled in so many directions we find it difficult to stop multi-tasking long enough to take in our surroundings in any more than a cursory way. So, take a deep breath. Look around you. Is your child there? Great. Focus.

    Observation

    Taking time to observe your child can provide lots of feedback in terms of your child’s talents, interests and motivation. How is this observation done? Sit, be still, and be quiet. If you look hard enough, without multi-tasking, you will learn so much about your child.

    What does she enjoy playing with? Does she prefer playing alone or with others? How might she integrate herself into a bunch of children – or does she prefer to hang back from the group? Besides giving you information, this intentional observation can strengthen your relationship with your child.

    Learning About Your Child’s Interests By Spending Time Together

    Besides observation, just spending time together with your child can give great insight into her potential hobbies and interests. Together you might read a book, watch a program, or try an art project. The feedback you get from these activities will be valuable in planning next steps.

    Try Something New!

    Expose your child to a broad range of experiences – trying something new might ignite a spark in her and send her in a new direction! One area that is often popular for children to explore is art. Providing a sensory rich environment will encourage your child to explore and possibly find great enjoyment through art.

    Regardless of the field trips, materials and experiences, it’s important to keep a couple of things in mind. First off, don’t pressure. When you put intriguing materials in front of your child, get out of the way. This is child-led learning. Second, be sure to nurture your own passion for learning. Children learn what they live. If your child watches you joyfully knit a sweater, create a collage, or sing a song, she will be more inclined to dig in, as well!

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    How to effectively teach a child to entertain themselves

    How to teach play skills & What to do when a child can’t entertain themselves One of the reasons children struggle to entertain themselves is because they don’t have the play skills they need. Play is not just a way for your child to have fun, but it is how children integrate ideas and concepts…

    Episode 4: Responsive Parenting + Play to Address Child Behavior

    On this episode of Play Learn Thrive, Alanna speaks with Sheena Hill, psychotherapist and sleep coach. During their discussion, they touch on how to engage in responsive parenting over behavioral modification, and how to better connect with your young children when they’re struggling with right choices. Main Takeaways: Any time your children are under stress,…

    Read More

  • When Do Kids Start Sharing?

    When do kids start sharing? Think about that as you imagine this scenario. There you are, at a pool party with your new friends. This is great you think to yourself. Susie and Beth are my new best friends! I finally met some nice moms at the park!

    Then you hear it – a blood-curdling scream. Definitely your kid. You scramble to your feet to see what’s going on, only to see your just-turned-three-year-old wrenching his pool toy out of the hands of Beth’s son.

    Beth beats you to the scene of the crime, though, and when you arrive you can hear her imploring voice saying, “It’s okay, honey, he just wants to borrow it. Can you share?” Uh oh.

    You think to yourself when do kids start sharing?

    What’s Really Going on Here?

    It seems that parents start encouraging (or forcing) sharing before children can even crawl. What’s the reason behind this insistence?

    The cause of much of the parental angst accompanying the push to share is that we parents want to avoid being judged. We want to hear “What a well-mannered boy you have!”, not “Your child knocked my child down.”

    Parents want to raise likable children. We want conflict-free parenting interactions, regardless of where we are. We try to raise generous, selfless humans who genuinely care for others. Okay, great. But none of those adjectives apply to a two-or-three-year-old child. 

    What Is Sharing, Anyway?

    The word ‘sharing‘ does not mean to a young child what it means to an adult. To a very young child, ‘sharing’ is when he has to give his very favorite toy to another child. This may be for a few minutes, or it could mean forever – the child never knows.

    The idea that ‘sharing is caring’ simply doesn’t apply to toddlers. They don’t understand the concept, and are completely unable to put it into practice. ‘Sharing’ actually may as well be stealing from a toddler’s perspective.

    But MY Toddler Shares!

    No, he doesn’t. Yes, maybe he gives you a bite of his donut. Perhaps he brings you a block from time to time. This is not sharing. More likely, the child is seeking approval and looking for the positive feedback that comes when you enjoy a morsel of Krispy Kreme. Some children will even hold out a toy and then withdraw it, testing the waters during social interaction. It’s not sharing.

    When Do Kids Start Sharing?

    Around the age of two, most children recognize the concept of ownership and will protest if someone tries to take their toy away. But empathy? Fuggedaboudit. The two-year-old has no concept of others’ feelings – heck, he barely knows he is a separate person at this age. Still working on that.

    Another thing the two-year-old does not recognize? Time. So when you take his favorite lovey and give it to the enemy (read: another child), your toddler knows that rotten child will keep his prized possession FOR. EV. ER.

    Lastly? Impulse-control, for the win. The toddler’s creed tells all you need to know: “If I want it, it’s mine. If I give it to you and change my mind later, it’s mine. If I can take it away from you, it’s mine. If I had it a little while ago, it’s mine.” At the first inkling of ownership, the toddler snaps, screams, demands, hits, kicks……you know the drill.

    Moving Along the Continuum of Sharing

    Like all stages of child development, you can expect to go two steps forward and one step back as your child begins to share. It’s not like Tuesday your child won’t share, but then on Wednesday he magically will. When do kids start sharing? There is no precise age, but here are some tips for moving your child towards the act of sharing.

    Give a Play-By-Play

    Tap into your inner sportscaster as you narrate what’s happening between playmates. Using a calm tone, describe the actions of the children relative to the desired object (“You want the truck, but Timmy has it now.”) encouraging and praising the waiting child. By giving language to the situation, you may help both children to process the incident.

    Bring a Timer

    Even though the result is no better, ‘taking turns’ sounds better to a toddler than ‘sharing’. Armed with your timer, you can adequately supervise these turns, ensuring both parties get a fair shake. Your child will begin to learn that when someone else has a turn, it isn’t forever. As a bonus, the timer is the ‘bad guy’, not the parent!

    Ensure Safety

    If and when your child’s frustrations turn to hitting, kicking, or other violent actions, take a consistent stand. Make it clear that you will not allow him to hurt other people. If this requires you to hold him still, do so. Despite your upset, speaking and acting calmly will encourage your child to remain calm, as well.

    Edit Toys For a Playdate

    If you know that more than one child will be dying to play with a particular toy, put it out of sight for the playdate. If your child just isn’t ‘there’ yet about sharing, why ask for trouble? Be sure to make clear to your child that the toy in question is off-limits during the playdate.

    Model

    Children are constantly watching and listening. When having a bowl of ice cream, ask your husband if he’d like to ‘share’. Make a point of ‘sharing’ the couch with your child and reading a book or watching a show together. Make this language prevalent in your home.

    Also make a point of using the phrase ‘take turns’, and demonstrate this for your child. “Dad and I are taking turns watering the garden.” The more he hears these phrases and sees peaceful actions alongside them, the more normal sharing and taking turns will seem.

    Wait

    Our kids develop on their own timeline. Be patient, and know that stomping your feet and insisting your child share will likely have the opposite of your intended effect. Your child will learn to share. Eventually. While you’re waiting, take a deep breath and enjoy him for who he is right now.

    Interested in getting your little one to play independently?

    Check out my Purposeful Playspace e-course to learn how to create a space for your children that invites them to playin ways that are more engaging, purposeful and independent.

    Want more information about how play impacts your child’s development?

    Check out my e-book: Simply Play: Everything You Need To Know About The Most Important Part of Childhood

    Love this post? Check out some of the articles below.

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely

    Are Pikler triangles worth it? abso-freakin-lutely So what is this magic triangle that seems to be in every playroom on Instagram?  It’s a Pikler triangle and there are some great reasons why so many moms are falling in love with them.   You may be wondering if Pikler triangles are worth it? And I say abso-freakin-lutely. …

    Episode 5: The Psychological Importance of Play + How to Recover from Helicopter Parenting

    On this episode of Play. Learn. Thrive., clinical psychologist Sarah Mundy shares with Alanna insights about the importance of play in the development of confident, self-motivated, independent kids. In addition to being a core element of emotional and intellectual growth, play has been recognized internationally as a fundamental right of children. Sarah highlights clinical experience…

    Risky Play: What Parents NEED to Know

    Risky Play Children have an innate need for risk-taking. In addition, children who are encouraged to take risks at a younger age are able to better manage risk once they have gained more independence. A lack of ample opportunity to take risks may increase fear and inappropriate aggression, as well as limit the ability to…

    How to effectively teach a child to entertain themselves

    How to teach play skills & What to do when a child can’t entertain themselves One of the reasons children struggle to entertain themselves is because they don’t have the play skills they need. Play is not just a way for your child to have fun, but it is how children integrate ideas and concepts…

    Episode 4: Responsive Parenting + Play to Address Child Behavior

    On this episode of Play Learn Thrive, Alanna speaks with Sheena Hill, psychotherapist and sleep coach. During their discussion, they touch on how to engage in responsive parenting over behavioral modification, and how to better connect with your young children when they’re struggling with right choices. Main Takeaways: Any time your children are under stress,…

    Read More