• 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 and data points, but above all else her message derives from simple common sense: Children learn from having fun – and having fun leads to learning!          

    Main Takeaways:

    • A bit about Sarah’s 20-year career as a psychologist (with a special focus on attachment disorders) and children’s author of an interactive series of books for toddlers.
    • The concept of “play” as a core, quantifiable part of childhood development.
    • Covid19’s impacts on children and chronic over-scheduling as a block to free play.
    • The long-term impacts of helicopter parenting on children’s soft skills.
    • Reexamining your parenting style and considering an adjustment.
    • Balancing playing with our kids versus fostering play for our kids.
    • Cultivating tolerance in parents for somewhat riskier play among children.
    • Ways in which parents can provide the safety necessary for their kids to stretch and grow beyond their comfort zones.
    • Considering the spectrum from permissive to authoritative parenting styles and finding your place on that spectrum.

    Despite best intentions, parenting today can tend to be pressure-packed and overly involved with potentially long-lasting impacts on early childhood development. But there is a simple cure: Play! Research clearly demonstrates that unfettered, unstressed playtime confers enormous emotional, cognitive, physical and creative benefits on children. For “recovering” helicopter parents interested in changing their dynamic, Sarah offers some straightforward steps to consider:

    1. Assess your parenting style and ask yourself: Is this environment serving my child?
    2. Reflect and explore: Why the need to push my children so much? Is it helpful to then? What did my parents teach me about achievement? How helpful has it been?
    3. Be kind to yourself, recognize your best intentions and consider how you wish to move forward. Do you truly buy into the notion of play as a foundational value and priority? If so, commit to uncovering/recovering playfulness on a daily basis.
    4. Fostering free-time and play does NOT mean spending all day on the floor with your kids. It should be fluid and allow space for then to create and experience emotions, reactions and choices on their own.
    5. Fostering free-time and play DOES mean cultivating a certain amount of tolerance for risk. Children need to titrate challenging situations over time in order to develop judgment, decision-making skills and appropriate boundaries.
    6. Children who feel a consistent sense of safety in the container of their parents are poised to test boundaries in a healthy way. Cultivating freedom, space and unscripted play imbues children over time with resilience, self-confidence, prudence and joy.

    In the words of Maria Montessori: “Play is the work of the child.” In this week’s episode, Sarah and Alanna offer both wise perspectives and concrete suggestions every “recovering” helicopter parent will want to hear!

    Related Links:

    Sarah’s Website: http://www.Parentingthroughstories.com

    Instagram: @ParentingThroughStories

    Twitter: @Bartley_Bear

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/parentingthroughstories/

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  • 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, they’re going to have limited access to the skills that they already have.
    • Our understanding of dysregulation needs to change.
    • We don’t really need to worry about “teaching lessons” in the moment.
    • Use playfulness to redirect frustration.
    • Anything that involves a child’s body is where power struggles tend to emerge.

    Sheena is a responsive behavior coach. She helps parents to understand a positive-parenting approach. Sheena kicks things off by explaining that parenting in the pandemic is harder than normal. Our reserves are lower and our kids’ needs seem higher. We can get stuck in a power cycle this way—but there are still options. First is recognizing that most of us were raised in the behavior modification approach. This ultimately hurts our ability to recognize what’s happening when we see dysregulation. Parents tend to just react with consequences because people can’t fathom what it would look like to stay and support a person through their big feelings. Parents feel attacked when they’re questioned on this, but they should try not to take offense. They want to feel like they’re doing something to prevent bad behavior in the future.

    Instead, Sheena suggests using playfulness to redirect their frustration. Get them laughing. This way, your child feels understood and like they’re on the same team as you. Ask yourself: are your expectations reasonable for your children? There are lots of things that come before dysregulation that we need to recognize. And it seems that intentional connection with your children’s needs is what works. Parents need to help their children to “reset”—and they’re looking to you to help regulate. Theory is good, but we need to talk about tools. We don’t need to be right, Sheena says. We just need to be wacky.

    So what can you do as a parent? Try to remember that your children need you to help them regulate their emotions, and they’re not very good at it. Remember that consequences often have negative effects, and playfulness can often boost confidence in the skills they already have. And finally, remember that you are your child’s coach. You want to see them succeed in life, but it’s not always about teaching a lesson in the moment. Be compassionate and judicious about when it’s the right time for lesson learning. They are looking to you to guide them.

    Related Links:

    Instagram: @parenting_works

    Facebook: Parenting Works

    Check out Sheena’s website: Sheenahill.com

    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

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    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…

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  • Play and Physical Development

    Today’s episode features Dr. Allison Mell, PT, DPT is a pediatric physical therapist who has spent over a decade working with infants through grade schoolers.

    After recognizing the need for a place where parents can find answers to all their questions, Allison and her partner Maryann Deutsch MS, OT/,L co-founded Tots On Target, a community to bring parents and child development professionals together.

    Dr. Mell chats about the importance of floor time, what types of toys are best for physical development (as well as some recommendations for toys to avoid) and much more.

    Dr. Mell and her partner also have a Podcast called Talk with Tots On Target, and are social media platforms @totsontarget. You can sign up for their website community forum http://www.totsontarget.com

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  • Outdoor play + child development

    On today’s episode, Ginny Yurich from 1000 Hours Outside and I chat about the importance of outdoor play and how it impact child development from birth all the way through high school age (and beyond).

    We explore risk taking, slowing down family life, the education system and how it impacts kids natural development among other things.

    You can read more about the importance of outdoor play here and check out some of our must have outdoor toys to encourage play here

    Check out 1000 Hours Outside on their website here and get the free tracker here

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  • Play & Emotional Intelligence

    We now know that one of the biggest predictors of a child being successful and happy is emotional intelligence.

    One of our main goals as parents and caregivers should be to guide the child towards independence. As hard as it is to accept, our little ones will, all too soon, be off and dealing with life’s challenges.

    In order for true independence to emerge, kids need to feel confident and in control.

    Stephanie Pinto, an Australian based former speech pathologist and certified emotional intelligence coach, says that, simply put, emotional intelligence is “a person’s ability to be aware of their own emotions as well as others’ emotions, and how they can use this information to guide their actions and behaviors in day-to-day life.”

    Listen as we chat about play & building emotional intelligence.

    You can read the full blog article here

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