Monthly Archives: September 2015

we all fall down

I noticed at Friday’s Play Shoppe that there was the perfect assortment of children playing Ring Around the Rosy at circle time.  There were a few older ones who could keep the circle strong and moving – some younger ones who were very tuned in to follow along – and some very young beginning ones who were doing their wide-eyed best to keep up.

And then, of course, there were the adults!

We often play Ring Around the Rosy at Play Shoppe ( and yes, I am aware of the historical context) because little children always like it.

And why wouldn’t they?  The anticipation of “We all fall down” is high – and then, the actual falling down – the heap of children on the ground,  the joy of being silly, adults and children – just like that – falling down together.

Hilarious – actually – when you think about it!

Because falling down – on purpose – as part of the game – is silly, is zany, is just plain fun.

And more and more we are learning from experts like Lawrence Cohen, PH.D, author of Playful Parenting and his new book, co-authored with Anthony T. DeBenedit M.D., The Art of Roughhousing, that this type of shared silliness and roughhousing is one of the very best ways for families to connect.

And in a way we already know that, don’t we – from our own experiences both as a child and as a parent?

Just try saying to a child/children “You can’t catch me” and see what happens.  Become a parental jungle gym. Hide and seek and shriek together. Watch tensions and stress melt away.

In addition to releasing stress and providing laughter and joy, these experts say that playfulness and roughhousing offer shared adventures and memories, develop cooperation, self-regulatory skills, trust, strength, tenderness and  provide connection.

Plenty of connection.

So if you find yourself knocking heads with your children far too often, a little fun, a little slapstick, a little roughhousing might be in order.

Try it!

As easy as “catch me if you can!”

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“home work”

If I were in charge (and I’m not!), homework for children from K through 8 would be listening to/reading a continuing chapter book every single night for one- half an hour.

That’s it.

A  large variety of books would be provided at school for children to take home to read/to be read to/to share.  Instead of homework struggles, there could be imaginations and thoughts exchanged, anticipation shared, minds enriched.

Simplistic – perhaps – but the tales I hear about the struggle in getting kids to do their homework begs for some simplicity.

Parents battle with this homework issue as much as children do.  Resistance is high – and so to make sure it’s accomplished, children are often expected to do homework immediately when they arrive home before getting to do anything else.

And in the two families I spoke with this past week, that scenario was not working well.

One of the moms shared that she was trying to be a responsible parent and didn’t most responsible parents insist their child do their homework right away?

Yet both she and her son were frustrated and felt disconnected.

I’ve been enjoying observing a young boy who gets picked up and brought back from school to The Parenting Place while his parent finishes working.  I feel as if one can sense an inaudible release of tension as this little guy eats his snack, colors, draws, looks at books, ponders, imagines with a toy car, pretends to “work”, day dreams – all in his own very relaxed, dreamy world, very personal, very connected way – secure in a spot near his parent.

Empty space – a snack – that’s what I would suggest to these two struggling parents -the time for a child to refuel, to trust each child to find what she needs most – to concentrate and encourage their personal “home work” first.

The mom of three that I spoke with feels her children only want to play.  I say – let them play – let them shed the stress of the day, release their pent-up energy, go outside, laugh,  run and chase and use their outdoor voices.

And then, well-fed, de-stressed, reconnected,  their personal “home work” satisfied, everyone might be ready to face sitting down and doing their school homework.

I believe so.

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We’re into our third week of school now and this is sometimes the point where children start to question, “You mean I have to go back every day this week too?”

  And as parents, we start to have some questions of our own – like just what really goes on at school  and what are our children  really like at school?

This is even more so when a child makes a comment about something he/she doesn’t like or a situation he’s bothered about at school.

Author Janet Lansbury in her blog, Elevating Childcare encourages parents to give your child space when she/he is sharing personal information with you.  She says the missing element in most of our exchanges with our children is silence – our silence.

We are often too quick to jump in with advice and “shoulds” and “maybe’s”.

Lansbury says it is enough for us to just listen – to say “that sounds hard for you”  or “you didn’t like that” – and then be  still, stay near,  be silent.

Allow your child the time and the gift to absorb  your words, appreciate  your understanding, confidence and trust in him.

A parent just told me that her young daughter had shared with her  something that was happening that her daughter didn’t like.   Her mom listened and reflected back her daughter’s feelings and then let it be – for her daughter to think about, to integrate,  or to share more when she’s ready.

For now I believe this little girl felt “held” by her mom’s quiet empathic response.

Silence – often says more than a thousand words.

It says I heard you.



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not too late

It’s Labor Day today – a traditional declaration of the end of summer as we know it.

But I say it’s not too late for another spontaneous picnic or two.

Picnics have changed a bit over the years, it seems. We go out to bigger, more planned events and festivals to eat and have fun- we do a lot of barbecuing in our own back yards.  But I’m talking about the simplicity of packing up some sandwiches, fruit, cookies and lemonade from home and heading off to the beach or the park for some spur-of-the moment fun.

This is just what the doctor ordered.  After a day at school, home or work it will soothe tired brains, frazzled nerves, refuel emotional connections for everyone.

So as the early fall weather treats us to clear blue skies and bright sunshine, make it a point to steal the time for a simple no-fuss “supper picnic” at the park – to just play, run, eat and remember the moment that “what’s for dinner?” was a surprise picnic in the park, right this very minute.


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