The Importance of Play + Wisdom from the Workplace + The Parents We Mean to Be

[amazon asin=0465025994&template=thumbnail&chan=default]Guest 1: Peter Gray, author of Free to Learn
Topic: Unleashing kids’ instinct to play
Issues: How play makes kids happier, more self-reliant, and better students for life; play’s crucial role in children’s intellectual, social, and emotional development; how play has changed in today’s tech-filled world.

[amazon asin=0470381310&template=thumbnail1]Guest 2: Jamie Woolf, author of Mom-in-Chief
How wisdom from the workplace can save your family from chaos.
Issues: When to step in and when to step back; why working with your spouse is crucial to team happiness; how to maximize learning opportunities that come from mistakes; how to feel less like a maid and more like a skilled leader.

[amazon asin=0547248032&template=thumbnail1]Guest 3: Richard Weissbourd, author of The Parents We Mean to Be
How well-intentioned adults undermine children’s moral and emotional development.
Issues: The difference between morality and religion; what a child’s behavior on the sports field says about his or her character; how organizing our children’s lives around achievement is harming them; how to regain our influence as moral mentors.

Need help getting the kids outside?

So Zoe and I rode our bikes to a movie theater last weekend to see “The Lorax.” When we came out, my bike had been stolen. Aside from being extremely inconvenient, that suddenly made it harder for me to get Zoe to spend time doing physical stuff outside.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, there are a lot of other obstacles that keep kids inside: [Read more…]

Does it matter whether you’re smiling while you change that diaper?

Great article by Tara Parker-Pope in the NY Times Magazine this week. It talks about whether women like childcare more than men. The answer, according to the researchers is, Yes.

But here’s my question: What the hell difference does it make whether you enjoy it or not?

Guys are doing more and more around the house—more than double what they were doing in 1985. The stats show that women are still spending twice as much time with the kids than men are. But those studies are notoriously flawed. They don’t take into account that men spend an average of 7 hours/week more than women commuting to and from work. They don’t count playing with the kids at “spending time” with them, and they usually don’t count the many other tasks men do in the general service of the family: plumbing, lawn mowing, dish washing, etc.
That said, the Times article raises some interesting points. Some excerpts:
“Researchers from the University of Virginia recently asked 181 academics with young children how much pleasure they experienced from various child-care tasks.”
“On 16 out of 25 child-care tasks — like changing diapers, taking a child to the doctor or getting up in the middle of a night to attend to a child — women reported statistically significant higher levels of enjoyment than men. The only parenting issue that gave women less pleasure than it gave men was having to manage who does what for the child. Over all, women’s scores were 10 percent higher than men’s.”
The whole article is here.
In addition, you can take the quiz yourself here.

Want smarter kids? Have them play with dad.

One of the most classically dad things is playing–physically–with the kids. Now along comes another study that proves that imaginative play with dad is good for kids’s brains too. When you encourage your children’s imagination, their vocabularies are larger and they do better in math.

What’s unique about this particular study, which was done at Utah State University, is that the researchers went to the trouble of, gasp, including dads. Most previous play studies had looked at mom-child interactions.

So how do you boost the amount of imaginative play? Start by encouraging make believe and fantasy. Then, when your reading stories, don’t be shy about acting out some parts or talking about what’s happening in the illustrations or why particular characters are doing what they’re doing. Plopping your kids in front of the TV (or even watching silently with them) or reading books straight through from beginning to end without any commentary won’t help.

A bit more detail on the study here:


Is there a perfect time to have kids?

21 years ago, when I was a young, first-time dad I thought it was a perfect time to be a parent. A few years later, when my second was born, I thought that was a perfect time. And then 10 years after number two, that was perfect too. I was right all three times. And wrong.

First time ’round I may have had better knees and backs and can bowl their kids on the slip-n-slide faster and farther than older dads. But I was preoccupied with career, scraping together down payment money in the insane Bay Area housing market. As I got older, my relationships with the kids changed. By the time my youngest was born I wasn’t as worried about career and money and could actually take time to just watch all the amazing things she did. We still do plenty of physical things together, but we also spend a lot of time just playing–board games, Barbie–yes, I admit it, I have actually brushed Barbie’s hair and slipped her out of her tennis togs and into an elegant evening gown).

Still, a new study from UCSF found that overall, parents think the 30s are the ideal time. What do you think?

Interesting piece on the study here:

Fitness equipment for kids? Naaa

We often talk about how important it is for kids to get enough exercise–60  minutes every day–but what they really need is play. What’s the difference? According to Dr Tony Okely, associate professor at the University of Wollongong in Australia, “Exercise is defined as physical activity that is structured, planned, and repetitive with an aim of increasing one or more components of health-related fitness.”  The problem is that a lot of parents get their kids all sorts of mini exercise equipment–stuff like treadmills and weight benches. But what they really need is to be sent packing to ride their bikes with their buddies around the neighborhood, or to just go to a park and run around like loons.

Reminds me of what a dog trainer once told me: “A tired dog is a happy dog, and a happy dog is an obedient dog. Same goes (well, almost) with kids. A tired and sweaty kid is a healthy kid. What they need to be doing is having fun. gym memberships are over the top.
Read more:

Does your child really need fitness equipment–treadmills,