Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

What do you want for Christmas?

Thursday, December 17th, 2015


Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.

Yoda to Obi-Wan about the purity of innocence and the insights that can be gleamed from listening to fresh ideas. – Episode II: Attack of the Clones

While wrapping my gifts I noticed empty paper cardboard rolls and ribbon spools.  Rather than toss them out, I looked at them differently; almost as if they would be treated as treasures for children with wonderful imaginations. If you are looking to gift something educational to your kids check this guide

My thinking was heightened as I had recently spent time with such a little boy.  He seemed to be able to make a game out of any object, and included adults as part of the game.  That gave him time to get to know and appreciate us. When we left his house, he turned and said, “I want to give you one more hug.” I thought how priceless it is for family to hear that from a child.

I suspect that was largely due to the creative freedom he had to make up his own games.  Since he was a four-year-old boy, naturally the games involved a lot of physical movement.  But that might be why he was so happy.  I remember an interview a number of years ago with Dr. Vicki who talked about little boys and anger.  Please listen to her complete broadcast on dealing with anger, but the message is that little children, especially boys, need to move and play.  If they don’t have such opportunities, their pent up energy is displaced as irritability and anger.

When buying your children presents for Christmas, remember that playing with them makes the game so much better and far more memorable.

See how these toys from the past 100 years jar your memory.

During this holiday season, remember it’s more than the gift or the toy.  Be part of the fun and include extended family as well. The time you play with them is what the kids will remember.

Merry Christmas

Happy Hanukkah

Happy Kwanzaa

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®



Can we possibly fix everything through play?

Friday, March 20th, 2015

Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.  Plato, 427–347 BC

The best thing about the arrival of spring is the chance to get out and play.

For years, I’ve written about the transformative power of play and truly believe that play fixes all things.  Through play children learn through how to share, take turns, and negotiate. They learn how teams are supposed to work, and select players because they are the best players because the objective of the game is to win. For children at play it isn’t that they aren’t obeying the rules, it’s just that there aren’t any rules.

Every child should have an opportunity to play.  For this reason, Parental Wisdom® is supporting One World Play Project and a campaign to provide the One World Futbol to the Althea Gibson Early Childhood Academy in New Jersey; when you buy one, another is sent to the school. The ball is ultra-durable, never goes flat, and never needs a pump even when punctured.  Watch this video to learn more.

From the One World Play Project website:

Where Play Happens, Change Happens

Research indicates that play is a biological imperative. Children need to play to learn, grow and be healthy—physically, psychologically and emotionally. Play helps individuals and societies recover from trauma, cope with challenging situations and create bonds that transcend race, culture, gender and ideology.

“From an evolutionary point of view, research suggests that play is a biological necessity. There is evidence that suggests the forces that initiate play lie in the ancient survival centers of the brain–the brain stem–where other anciently preserved survival capacities also reside. In other words, play is a basic biological necessity that has survived through the evolution of the brain. And necessity = importance.” Dr. Stuart Brown, MD Co-Author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, 2010.

Please support this campaign which starts today on the very first day of spring.  Remember play is in our DNA.

Have a great week!


Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

[1] A mission-driven B Corporation

Aren’t we just big kids?

Saturday, February 21st, 2015

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. ― Plato

In Feb 2006, Sir Ken Robinson presented a very popular TED Talk.  Seen over 31 million times “How schools kill creativity” suggests that schools treat children’s bodies as if they are only there to support their little heads.  It is a funny and compelling talk, but sadly not much has changed since then.

Since children aren’t in a position to change the situation, we must.  The challenge is that we are in the same boat.  While we would love to rescue children from constant preparation for tests, the stress associated with constant test taking, and disappearance of childhood, we are too busy working harder with less.

The answer is play.  Play is in our DNA.  If we understand the need for children to have recess, aren’t we just big kids with the same needs?

The airlines tell us to put on our oxygen masks before we do the same for our children.  Let’s get those masks on now.

Do less and you will do more.

  • Less email and more in person conversations.
  • Less meetings and spending more time walking around and building relationships.
  • Less heads down in work, and more time making sure we are doing the right things.

Give yourself recess and time to play.  The result will be a clear head and the happiness that comes from simply having fun.

With that, there’s no telling what you can do – perhaps even teach your kids a game or two.

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Where do babies come from?

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

If you think you know, there are actually several right answers including adoption, surrogate, IVF and others.

There are usually several right answers to questions which is why I am so thrilled about the success of a collaborative work that launched on September 1st and hit #15 on Amazon in the parenting category on September 2nd.

Parents Ask, Experts Answer: Nurturing Happy, Healthy Children provides multiple answers to questions for parents of children age’s two to six.  A panel of thirty-five experts offers advice on some of the most challenging issues faced by parents:

discipline bullying behavior
sleep caregivers play
family relationships siblings separation
special needs education friendship
technology peer pressure money

The best part about this work is that you get to see all expert answers in one place (all questions have at least three expert responses) so that you, the real expert in knowing your child best, gets to choose which response fits best for your unique child and situation.

This concept is so unique it is protected by US Patents 6193518 and 6482012.

Thank you for supporting this work!

  • Please write a review if you’ve purchased and read the book
  • Share the book information with your family and friends via Facebook, Twitter, or email.

After all, it’s much easier on your relationship to suggest they read the book rather than giving advice!

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

The pendulums sweet spot

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

There is something to be said of settling in the middle.  I don’t buy in to the nostalgia of how great it was in the 1960’s where every mom was home and kids were out all day playing, only coming in for dinner.

But I was a kid that experienced that kind of childhood, which was the greatest childhood in history.  Not opinion but fact.


People had more kids (baby boomers are those born in 1946 to 1964) so there were more kids around.  More kids around means more opportunity to play.

Then in 1964, 40% of the population was under the age of nineteen which created the opportunity/explosion of marketing to and for children.  Before all the toys, books, entertainment and activities, kids entertained themselves.

The biggest challenge we face today is a child’s lack of ability to play

I’m talking about the kind of play that is non-supervised, no fees or uniforms involved, where the kids themselves figure out what they’re going to play today.  The kind of play where kids get so dirty, at the end of the day the bath water is black, and they go right to sleep because they are exhausted from having fun.

That doesn’t happen anymore.  Why?

We are afraid

Instead of locking up the bad guys, we lock up our children and keep them inside and in front of electronics.  This holds back their ability to move and play, and argue and make up, and be friends again.  It is important to be cautious, and be careful, but don’t be afraid.

We are competitive

We put them in every kind of summer camp that will help improve their math scores, reading scores and batting average.  So not only are there fewer children these days, but the ones that are around are not available to play because they are scheduled, but you are still on time to change this, the summer camps for kids la is where kids can live the the moment, be themselves, and discover new talents!

We are overwhelmed

We have so much to do, that we put our kids in front of electronics as a means of babysitting and/or entertainment to give us time to get tasks done.  Include them in the tasks, because they are part of a family, and that should be cooperative.

We are Julie the Cruise Director

We fill their lives with activities and events, so there is no time for boredom. Boredom is good, as Mr. Rogers famously said, “You can grow ideas in the garden of your mind.”

 What can you do right now so the pendulum swings back more toward the middle?

Notice I’m not suggesting that we go to the 1960’s.  I believe the sweet spot is in the middle.  Life is different today and many moms need to, or choose to work, and having a choice is a good thing.  The electronics are not bad, and in fact teach our children interesting things that take them to incredible places.  It is the moderation that we need to better manage and focus on free play, because we are not doing much of that at all.

  • Can you get the ball rolling with some unstructured evening activities?
  • Is there a community basketball court?
  • Can you get your kids to organize a baseball game?
  • Can they have a marathon board game event?
  • Break the record for the most hula hoop players?
  • Are they able to do any of these things without adult intervention?
  • And parents, instead of sitting in those sports chairs that have a holder for a cold beverage, get moving yourself!  Bring a bocce game or bean bag toss and play with the big kids, aka the adults.
  • Take up a community cause to help other children.  There is no feeling as wonderful as helping someone else.

The best way to begin is to run the idea by your kids, and ask them what they think.  Get them to organize it, and then when you get enough momentum, be a voice in your community.  If it takes off, ask the school to open the gym on Friday nights for Family Game Nights in the fall.

Then, we can get back to the best part of the 60’s – the village that we all so desperately need and miss.

“You can’t stop the future
You can’t rewind the past
The only way to learn the secret
…is to press play.” 
― Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why


Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®


Follow me on Twitter

Screen free week is here!

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Lost time is never found again. – Benjamin Franklin

I’m so excited!  As I previously wrote in my earlier post, Party like it’s 1914, Screen Free Week begins, and I just planned play tweets for the entire month of May.

As a reminder, Screen Free week starts this

Monday, May 5th and runs through May 11th 

In reading the bubble over the heads of my snarky friends and followers, “How do we read tweets if we’re going cold turkey?” The screen free part is family time; after all you most likely have to work!

The arrival of summer often brings the buzz of heightened activity, with families engaged in sports and less time in front of screens. It’s much like how a fire watch company in Hillsboro Beach operates; they are actively on-site when needed, providing immediate response services that don’t pause for seasonal changes. Just as we eagerly saunter into summer ready to set a pattern to enjoy each other’s company and bask in the great outdoors, my friend who works at the local fire watch service talks about their commitment to being perpetually prepared, their vigilance ensuring safety so that families can relish these valuable moments without worry.

My prediction is that after a single week of less screen time and more family time, your stress will significantly drop and fun will dramatically increase.

Here are some guides/info to help:

Thanks to the folks from Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood for putting this together!

Hope you find this helpful at the very least, and life changing at best.

Let’s give our children back a childhood! 

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®

Follow me on Twitter  #justplay
















Party like its 1914

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

The weather today is amazing!

Until recently, we didn’t believe that we could do without coats and boots, but spring has finally arrived and the prison of outerwear is behind us.

Now what…after a deep breath and squinting glimpse of sunshine, have we learned to appreciate the beautiful outdoors, or will we sink back to the lethargic habits of hiding behind screens of various forms?

Two interesting things might change your perspective:

1.       Today, April 12th is National Big Wind Day

On April 12, 1934, Alex McKenzie wrote about the wild day on Mount Washington in New Hampshire.  Between noon and 1 p.m., the wind was 220 mph with gusts up to 229 mph. Then at 1:21 p.m., the wind out of the southeast was recorded at 231 mph. It is still the highest natural surface wind velocity ever recorded in the world, according to

 What a great day to fly a kite!

2.     May 5 through 11 is Screen Free Week, which is the reason for the headline.  The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has a complete organizers kit to kick it off.

I love this concept and I love this kit!

In case you need to think about this idea, ask yourself these questions….

  • Do you see your child more agitated and aggressive when he is in front of a screen?
  • Do you see middle-schoolers texting the same friends they are standing next to?
  • Have you witnessed a lack of social skills and increase in obesity?
  • Do you struggle getting your kids to complete homework assignments?
  • Do you find it hard to engage them in conversation?
  • Does the discussion center around what’s trending, rather than what really matters.

But the biggest challenge hasn’t yet materialized 

This generation of children believes everything on the Internet is true.  This is without thinking it through, experiencing it, or discussing it with you.   The Internet is the authority.  It’s as if you’ve opened your front door to a world of strangers who are talking to your kids.

Take it back and Just Play

In support of Screen Free Week, I’ve committed to tweeting play ideas beginning May 1st running through May 31st.   Initially I thought it might be a good idea to indicate age ranges for play ideas, but since they are all fun, let’s just say the ideas are appropriate for kids ages 1 to 100.


Play is so essential to children’s health and well-being—and so endangered—that the United Nations lists it as a guaranteed right in its Convention on the Rights of the Child.  We owe it to our kids to have a childhood like the one you remember.

“Play is the highest form of research.” 
― Albert Einstein


Have a great week, and more to come!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®


Spring awakening – Our children need to explore

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014

As I read the article The Overprotected Kid in The Atlantic Monthly, I couldn’t help but think of the joke:

What do you call 500 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean?

A good start.

Have we let our litigious society stop us just short of bubble wrapping our kids to the extent that we have taken the very joy out of childhood?  Five-year old Kyle said to his Nana, “I’m never allowed to play outside with my friends.”

They know they are always being watched.   Each generation of parents wants their children to have a better life.  Unfortunately when it comes to play, we are the ones standing in the way.  This video demonstrates that.

In 1994 I joined others in my community to build what is called a creative playground.  The event is similar to an old fashioned barn-raising.  The school children were asked to make sketches of what they would like in a playground, and the drawings were turned over to architects.  Parents and local businesses raised money for materials which lead to a five day playground build.  It is still to this day one of the most awesome experiences I ever had.  The playground was fun and popular for many years.

But as I read this article, I realize the playground was sterile.  Missing was adventure and the ability for children to imagine and reinvent fun.  The only playgrounds they knew were out of the box yet we expected them to think out of the box – not possible!

Children are supposed to move and play and learn and honestly express themselves.  Some time ago, I interviewed Dr. Vicki Panaccione on the topic dealing with anger.   She suggests that we have a lot of angry children because they aren’t allowed to be little children.   We are in control of everything they do.  On the one hand we say kids grow up to fast, but on the other hand they don’t get the space and freedom to grow up at all.

Here is an excerpt from the Atlantic Monthly article.  I encourage you to read it and hope it inspires you to make change in your own community.  It might be a change as simple as starting with “playworkers” which the article references, and I first learned about from the International Association of the Child’s Right to Play. This concept is brilliant because playworkers are professionally trained to keep a close eye on kids in public parks but don’t intervene all that much.

To see the full article, visit The Overprotected Kid in The Atlantic Monthly:

The Land is an “adventure playground,” although that term is maybe a little too reminiscent of theme parks to capture the vibe. In the U.K., such playgrounds arose and became popular in the 1940s, as a result of the efforts of Lady Marjory Allen of Hurtwood, a landscape architect and children’s advocate. Allen was disappointed by what she described in a documentary as “asphalt square” playgrounds with “a few pieces of mechanical equipment.” She wanted to design playgrounds with loose parts that kids could move around and manipulate, to create their own makeshift structures. But more important, she wanted to encourage a “free and permissive atmosphere” with as little adult supervision as possible. The idea was that kids should face what to them seem like “really dangerous risks” and then conquer them alone. That, she said, is what builds self-confidence and courage.

The playgrounds were novel, but they were in tune with the cultural expectations of London in the aftermath of World War II. Children who might grow up to fight wars were not shielded from danger; they were expected to meet it with assertiveness and even bravado. Today, these playgrounds are so out of sync with affluent and middle-class parenting norms that when I showed fellow parents back home a video of kids crouched in the dark lighting fires, the most common sentence I heard from them was “This is insane.” (Working-class parents hold at least some of the same ideals, but are generally less controlling—out of necessity, and maybe greater respect for toughness.) That might explain why there are so few adventure playgrounds left around the world, and why a newly established one, such as the Land, feels like an act of defiance.

If a 10-year-old lit a fire at an American playground, someone would call the police and the kid would be taken for counseling. At the Land, spontaneous fires are a frequent occurrence. The park is staffed by professionally trained “playworkers,” who keep a close eye on the kids but don’t intervene all that much. Claire Griffiths, the manager of the Land, describes her job as “loitering with intent.” Although the playworkers almost never stop the kids from what they’re doing, before the playground had even opened they’d filled binders with “risk benefits assessments” for nearly every activity. (In the two years since it opened, no one has been injured outside of the occasional scraped knee.) Here’s the list of benefits for fire: “It can be a social experience to sit around with friends, make friends, to sing songs to dance around, to stare at, it can be a co-operative experience where everyone has jobs. It can be something to experiment with, to take risks, to test its properties, its heat, its power, to re-live our evolutionary past.” The risks? “Burns from fire or fire pit” and “children accidentally burning each other with flaming cardboard or wood.” In this case, the benefits win, because a playworker is always nearby, watching for impending accidents but otherwise letting the children figure out lessons about fire on their own.

Let’s make it wonderful to be a kid again.

“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play”

― John Cleese

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®


Why we all need to play

Sunday, November 25th, 2012


 Do not keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play. – Plato, Greek philosopher 427–347 BC

 When given the chance, children love to play.  

I’m not talking about playing video games or handing your child your iPhone so you could shop sort of play, but the real old fashioned kind of play where children actually connect with each other.   The kind of play you did as a child. 

As you shop this holiday season, please think about more than the instant gratification of your child ripping off the wrapping paper, and think about the value that toy will bring as you play with your child.  It truly is relationship building to play with children and they learn so many of life lessons through play.

Here is my attempt at the ABC’s of play:                       

Play is…

Active, adventures & art

Bonding, busy & boundless

Captivating, collaborative, & creative

Divine, delicious & development 

Energizing, emotional & engaging

Fun, freedom & familiarity

Games, gizmos & glory

Honest, healing & hilarious

Imaginative, inventive & inquisitive

Joining, jolly & jumping

Kinetic, kindergarten & know-how

Laughter, loud & listening

Making mistakes, music & magic

Natural, nimble & nonsense

Open, obvious & optimistic

Physical, peace & positive

Quests, quality & quid pro quo

Resourceful, respectful & revealing

Silly, social & skill building

Timeless, tactile & teaches

Unpredictable, ubiquitous & universal

Valuable, virtuous, & vocal

Wonder, whimsical & work


Youthful & yearlong



Have fun, and please feel free to add your comments on play.

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®




We are still here

Sunday, June 5th, 2011

 A few weeks ago, the world didn’t end on May 21st as Harold Camping predicted.   His forecast caused some folks to stop paying the mortgage and bills.  I imagine they are now trying to recover from that decision.

Most things we spend time worrying about just don’t happen.  Parents create anxiety about things that can happen to their kids, and that anxiety keeps them from just being kids. 

I’m not saying there aren’t dangers in the world and it is your job to protect your child from real danger.  But let’s distinguish danger from anxiety.  Practice safety in all aspects of life, from the use of car seats, to child-proofing your home, to cyber protecting your kids to prohibiting alcohol to minors.  These measures all make sense and do protect our children from real danger.

And then lighten up.

Allow your kids to play the way you used to play – outside and unstructured.  Look for ways to celebrate life’s small milestones which help to shape what is in your control in this seemingly out of control world.  What would you like your children to remember about their childhood?

One of life’s milestones is the last day of school.  Each year I would leave work early to pick up the kids, and they knew I would be armed with water blasters.  Of course, one was for me. 

Why should they have all the fun?

 “We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable.  It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends, and living our lives.”  – Maya Angelou

Have a great week!

Tina Nocera, Founder

Parental Wisdom®