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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/