Just stop wondering about what your Parenting Style is, or trying to figure out what to choose for your kids based on a label that you’ve adopted.
Take a breath. Yes, some decisions are huge and can have lasting impacts for your child and your family. Of course. But some are less important. And it really all comes down to what you want their Childhood to look like. To feel like. What do you want them to remember when they are grown?
Kids need time to play.
It is the language of childhood, and it is how they learn. Children learn through play naturally, and only stop when we decide we want them to learn something they are not interested in learning.
Play is how children work through their stresses, fears, humiliations, grief and anger. It’s when they develop their emotional regulation skills, like how to manage their anger, how to navigate their anxiety, how to assess risk and push past it on their own time.
The play I’m talking about happens freely, naturally, and when parents or other adults are not intervening, watching, and supervising.
I remember leaving home after breakfast and coming home for dinner. In the middle I was playing. Riding my bike, trading small toys and cards for other treasures from my friends, making dams in the gutter, playing with dolls, board games, and coming up with kid-versions of adult day to day life: Teacher/school, house, running a zoo, manning a spaceship, pirates sailing the seas. Legos didn’t come with a kit, or directions. Toys didn’t beep or sing or buzz.
Increasingly, the only time kids get to play actively is when enrolled in a program (gymnastics, sports, dance). These are fantastic options, and can be very enriching. But because of our busy adult schedules, they do often cut into free-play time.
And when was the last time you allowed your kids to play freely, out of your sight, with a group of mixed aged children?
Natural, Playful Childhood is disappearing.
And while I don’t want to rid our culture of technology, or reduce the participation in organized programs, we need to understand how free, unstructured play – or lack of it – is impacting the ability for kids to learn to emotionally regulate themselves, to develop the systems of the body (vestibular and proprioception) that assist with focus, sitting without fidgeting, and body-movement regulation.
Our kids are showing us by the high rates of depression, anxiety, attention and behavioral problems, and by their inability to cope with stress, that they are suffering from the lifestyle we’ve given them.
Let’s fix that.
Contact me to discuss programs for your daycare, preschool or school that will help children learn emotional regulation skills, and help teachers strengthen their skills to respond and manage emotional and behavioral outbursts in more effective ways.
Contact me for speaking engagements for your organization, workplace or conference!