Does play really matter? Do children get anything out of it? Or is it just messing around; time that could be better spent preparing our children for success in life?
Today we talk with Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, about the benefits of play for both children and – I was surprised to find – adults.
This is the first in a series of episodes on play – lots more to come on outdoor play (and how to raise kids who love being outdoors), risky play, and imaginative play.
I hear a huge crash.
It’s my favorite glass vase. I hear “I didn’t mean to hurt it, Mommy! It just fell!” as I run full-pelt from the other end of the house.
It was a family heirloom passed down by my grandmother. I’ve asked her not to touch it a hundred times. I am beyond furious. “Please don’t be mad, Mommy. It was an accident.”
I clench my teeth. “I’m not mad.”
What does my daughter learn from this exchange? How does my own emotional regulation affect what she learns about how to regulate her own emotions? We’ll learn about this in today’s episode.
Note that this episode is the second in the ill-fated experimental short episodes – we’ll be back to the regular length hereafter! In case you missed it, the first episode in this series was Three Reasons Not To Say You’re OK.
Is your child ‘spirited’? Even if they aren’t spirited all the time, do they have spirited moments? You know exactly what to do in those moments, right?
Well then we have a treat for you today. Dr. Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of Raising Your Spirited Child, walks us through the ins and outs of her book on the same topic. Best yet, we do the interview as a consult with a parent, Kathryn, who has read and loved the book, but struggled with implementing the ideas.
Warning: we spend quite a bit of time brainstorming very specific problems that Kathryn is having with her daughter. You may not be having exactly the same problem with your child, but the brainstorming method we use is one you can do with a friend – take the approach with you to address your own problems, rather than the specific ideas.
Read more about Dr. Mary’s books and other work on her website.
“I hear parents on the playground all the time saying “You’re OK!” after their child falls over. Often it does make the child stop crying…but doesn’t it invalidate the child’s feelings?”
It turns out that this question is related to a skill that psychologists call emotional regulation, and learning how to regulate emotions is one of the most important tasks of childhood.
This to-the-point episode is a trial of a shorter form of episode after listeners told me this show is “very dense.” It’s hard to back off the density, but I can back off the length. Let me know (via email or the Contact Me, page – not the comments on this episode because I get inundated with spam) what you think…
“HOW DO I GET MY CHILD TO SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT?!” is the thinly-veiled message under the surface of many of the emails that I get about sleep. And I don’t blame you. I don’t claim to be a magician in this regard, although I did get incredibly, amazingly lucky – my daughter put in her first eight-hour night at six weeks old, and has regularly slept through the night for longer than I can remember. I’m really genuinely not sure I could parent if things weren’t like this.
But today’s episode is about the data, not about anecdata.
Zoe in Sydney wrote to me:
A hotly debated topic with my friends has been “sleeping through the night.” My daughter never was great at napping and still wakes up once a night, coming into our bed. We have never been able to do controlled crying etc – I would love to know what science says about sleeping through the night! And what is best for your child (vs the parent). My close friend is a breastfeeding counselor and said they are taught that lots of children don’t sleep through until 4 years old! Other mothers I knew were horrified if their child wasn’t sleeping through by 6 months – and the French talk about their children ‘having their nights’ much earlier…
As I started researching this topic it became clear that sleep is driven to an incredible extent by cultural preferences. Some (Western) psychologists advocate for letting children Cry It Out, while people in many cultures around the world see putting a child to sleep in their own room (never mind allowing them to cry) as tantamount to child abuse.
So: can we get our children to sleep more? Is bed-sharing inherently bad? Does Cry It Out harm the child in some way? Let’s find out!