Posts Tagged ‘Play’

You can only spend time

Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

Recently a few dads mentioned they are not spending enough time with their kids, or in other cases, they felt the time slipped past them since their children are now older.

As I noted in my book Because Kids Don’t Come With Manuals® time and money have much in common, but one very clear distinction: you can make money and you can spend money, but you can only spend time – you can’t make time.

Despite what you might think, if given the choice, children would much rather spend time with you as compared to you working harder or longer hours to make money to buy them things. The best plaything in the world is you.

I point this out as Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon Professor who gave the famous Last Lecture recently passed away. The famous speech, which is now a book, was really meant for his children, but the rest of us eagerly listened in.

The world wanted to hear more from Randy, but he didn’t want to miss any time that he could spend with his children, so he collaborated via cell phone with Jeffrey Zaslow of the Wall St. Journal as he rode his bike an hour a day for 53 days.

Putting myself in his shoes, I can’t imagine not being there for my children in their moments of joy and more importantly in their moments of need. But it comes down to being there, which is about the choices we make. As Randy reminded us, “We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand.”

If you don’t know how to play with your kids – find someone who does effortlessly and do the same things. If you think the time has passed where you didn’t teach your son to ride a bike or throw a ball, ok, but you can still talk to your grown son and learn about him.

The key to time is making the most of what you have.

It’s Just Background Noise

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

A new study proves what we may have suspected all along; just having the TV on distracts kids. You knew that already just as you noticed your own level of concentration increases when the TV is off.

A recent study reported in the journal Child Development suggested that parents who leave the television on all day are stunting the development of their infants. It goes on to say that even when babies appeared to pay no attention to adult programs, they spent less time focused on toys compared with when the program was turned off.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two should watch no television and older children should be limited to no more than two hours a day.

”Parents should limit their young children’s exposure to background television,” said Marie Evans Schmidt, who carried out the research at the University of Massachusetts. She said TV was a potentially ”chronic environmental risk factor” affecting most children.

Many studies have indicated that excessive TV in the early years of life can stunt language skills and contribute to behavioral problems.

The message is loud and clear. Expand the same limits to all forms of media and you will have a child with time to think, dream and play.

Jury Duty Compared to Working Little League Concession Stand

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Of all the wonderful memories I have of my children growing up, one of the worst was the rotation of working the concession stand at little league.

In order of preference I would put jury duty and root canal surgery ahead of that task.

A 7-year-old Massachusetts boy was benched during his Little League baseball game because his mother failed to show up to work the league’s concession stand, and the mother isn’t happy about it.

Jodi Hooper of Freetown said she was unable to fulfill her obligation at the concession stand because she couldn’t get time off from work, according to MyFOXBoston.

Dave Brouillette, head of the Freetown Youth Athletic Association, told MyFOXBoston that the concession revenues are necessary to fund the league’s programs and that he has to enforce the rules, which require parents show up for their assigned concession stand shifts or risk suspensions for their children.

Brouillette told the station that he wasn’t able to see his own son play because he had to cover the concession stand shift for Hooper, according to MyFOXBoston.

As usual, we’re focusing on the wrong things. Instead let’s consider:

1. We have too many adults involved in children’s sports which is taking away from the real objective; to have children learn a sport, have fun and team building skills without adult interference.

2. If parents sign up their child, they are there to see them play, not watch fries turn a lovely golden brown.

3. Why is the concession stand needed anyway? Don’t we have an obesity problem in this country as it is?

Adults, get out of the way and let kids play.

Another Reason Families Love Steven Spielberg

Monday, May 12th, 2008

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPTJ4v6KPrg]

Tell me a fact and I’ll learn,
Tell me a truth and I’ll believe,
But tell me story and it will live in my heart forever.

-Indian Proverb

One of the many happy memories I have of my children when they were little, was my son Michael walking around town with a Fedora as shopkeepers would call out, “Hi Indy.” My son loved the Indiana Jones movies so much, that at four-years of age, he wanted to be an archaeologist-adventurer.

A good story teller gets you to believe. As a family, together we enjoyed every movie Steven Spielberg made because you were told a great story and felt a part of that story.

Last night, with children now young adults, we went to the movies and saw the trailer for the new Indiana Jones movie with a fully grown Indiana Jones – and we can’t wait to once again enjoy it together.

Tina Nocera, Founder
Parental Wisdom

Happy Earth Day Microsoft!

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

Where do I begin? I just sent out an email to Parental Wisdom members (below) which talks about how we’re stopping our children from enjoying the most wonderful lessons on earth in a rush to excel. I came across a piece by the senior product manager at Microsoft that I have to share:

You helped her learn to walk. He’s totally potty trained at last. Just when it seems you’ve conquered the most angst-ridden issues faced by parents of toddlers, here comes another source of concern: In a world increasingly dominated by technology, familiarizing your child with a computer and online tools is more important than ever.

Parents can’t afford to wait until their children start school to introduce them to technology, says Craig Cincotta, senior product manager at Microsoft Corp.

“Schools are incorporating computers into their curricula at very early grade levels. It’s not unusual to find a computer loaded with learning software in preschool and daycare settings,” he says. “Children who have experience with computers at home will have an edge over those who first encounter technology in the classroom.”

Boy, is this person ever wrong. Children are becoming frustrated and angry, even at young ages because we are not allowing them to be children – children are meant to play, especially outdoors.

Have you ever tried to toilet train a child too early? It doesn’t work. When children are ready, toilet training is easy. The same is true of education, computers and sports. Let children play freely, and when the time comes for studies and computers and organized sports, they will come ready to learn.

Here is the email sent yesterday to Parental Wisdom members.

We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.
-Ancient Proverb

Global climate change, pollution and how large a carbon footprint you leave behind may seem like many issues parents face – overwhelming.

The answer is actually quite simple and lies in the ancient proverb that states we borrow the earth from our children.

Unfortunately, we take our children from the very thing they gravitate to, the wonders of nature. We put them in schools too early, in front of computers too early, in organized sports programs too early, all because being inside and educated means they will be safe, smart and ready for a cutthroat world.

According to a recent article in the Wall St. Journal, the birthplace of kindergarten is returning to its roots – quite literally. Children ages 3 to 6 walk into a forest outside Frankfurt Germany to sing songs, build fires and roll in the mud. To relax, they kick back in a giant ‘sofa’ made of tree stumps and twigs.

Fredrick Frobel, the German educator who opened the world’s first kindergarten actually called it a “children’s garden.” He suggested that children of this age learn far more by playing in nature than they do immersed in letters and numbers.

Let’s move from ‘No Child Left Behind’ to ‘No Child Left Inside’ and stop our 5-year-olds from what some educators call ‘early academic fatigue.’ If you can’t change the education system, at least you could give your children the gift of spending time with nature. Take a walk with your child and see what he sees, it’s amazing what a young child can teach you.

Perhaps if we made this a habit, there wouldn’t be a need to set aside April 22nd to remember the Earth; everyday would be Earth Day.

Mud pies anyone?

There’s a reason for everything

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

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An outbreak of the flu is hardly good news, but there is a reason for everything. We find that we can clear our schedules, slow down and cuddle up. Why do we need to wait for the flu or a snowstorm to do something that makes so much sense?

Our generation of parents is so involved in our children’s lives that we have taken on the role of ‘Julie the Cruise Director.’

Let’s take a look at where that has gotten us:

• When they are very little, we register for mommy & me gym classes. Reality check, you can do that at home for no cost at all. Mommy, are you the one that needs the play date here?
• When they are toddlers, we’re registering them for soccer and pee-wee tee ball camps. Reality check again, this costs money and more importantly children actually get less time to play than if the parents played with their kids at the park or in the backyard. Also, the kids aren’t learning how to form their own teams.
• In grade school, we add music and tutoring to the sports schedule which leaves no time for play or family. The mini-van is well stocked with food and beverages as we have no time for dinner. And, by the way, no time for conversation since the mini-van has DVD’s playing in the head rests.
• We check our calendars to find free time for play dates that we’ve selected.
• High school comes around and by this time the kids are burned out by the politics of sports so they’ve stopped playing. Since they never started a game on their own, they don’t know how. Technology has taken the place of making real friends, again something they’ve never had to do.

Back to today’s lesson. Parents – do less and you’ll do more.

Too Many Toys

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

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The KISS principle (which stands for Keep It Simple, stupid) relates to just about every area of our life. Not surprisingly it begins when our children are little.

Visit the home of any family with little kids and you see toys, toys, and more toys. The overabundance of toys makes each toy less special, less noticed and less valued. I have often found that putting toys away for a while and rotating them offered a better chance for the kids to appreciate them more.

But, as often happens the problem that many of us experienced, was resolved a mom.

Lori Pope launched Baby Plays, a web-based company that rents toys, think of it as a Netflix for toys.

Customers pay $28.99 a month to get four toys a month for three months and $35.99 a month to get six toys a month for three months. Families willing to sign a yearlong contract can get six toys a month for $31.99.

Baby Plays’ inventory includes popular toys by brands such as VTech, LeapFrog and Playskool as well as more obscure European manufacturers. Pope keeps at least seven of each kind of toy in stock so she can fulfill almost every request. She plans to double her inventory over the next two months.

Pope mainly stocks sturdy, easy-to-clean toys with few parts or parts that are easily replaced. She searches Web sites and catalogs for popular toys that are appropriate for small children and meet all European and American safety standards.

Guess the kids would really look forward to a visit from the UPS driver!

Connecting the dots – obesity, behavior and the media

Friday, January 25th, 2008

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As I read my daily papers, The Wall St. Journal and USA Today, I cut articles that might be of interest to Parental Wisdom members. There is a pattern emerging where experts are trying to figure out what is going wrong with kids today. Three recent articles shed some light are where they are headed:

• In the January 14th edition of USA Today an article entitled ‘A lifetime of danger in childhood obesity’ paints a bleak picture of the medical issues that could result in overweight children and then explain how parents can create a healthful environment.

• USA Today on January 15th tells us of a ‘new direction’ on the part of PBS to create an online subscription based education website aimed at 3 to 6 year-olds.

• The January 17th edition of the Wall St. Journal asks ‘what’s gotten into kids these days’ and wonders why three-year-olds are being expelled at such an alarming rate.

Finally during a Parental Wisdom tele-seminar held this week on peaceful parenting, a caller asked what she could do to calm down her five-year-old at school because the teacher said he wasn’t sitting still. The teacher suggested the mom consider signing the boy up for a soccer team. The mom is already stressed about just returning to work and trying to keep it all together. Just what she needs, another to-do added to her already over-scheduled to-do list.

The solution to these seemingly unrelated problems is easy. Lighten up and let kids play. I mean real play, not online play, or signing them up with teams at such a young age they spend more time in the field picking their noses rather than listening to yet another round of instructions from adults running their lives. Involve them in your lives and the work that you need to do. Relationship building isn’t forced.
• Talk to your children when food shopping about healthy choices
• Have dinner together every night (or as often as possible) and talk about your day
• Give children chores such as setting or clearing the table
• Shoot baskets – no team shirts needed

Behavior problems will disappear, healthy living and family fun will be a way of life.

Is it this easy? Try it and prove me wrong. I would love to hear back from you.