behavior · brain · children · cognition · emotion · environment · family · happiness · health · learning · mental health · play · psychology

Why I Play-Fight with my Kids

In some ways this seems like an overly obvious, unnecessary post. Of course parents play fight with their kids! Right? Yet I am surprised by how few MOMS play fight with their kids.

I do. And I love it! I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I do, but I do. Here are my top reasons why.

1. It teaches them body awareness – How hard do I have to push to make something happen? How strong am I before I get pushed over? How do I get myself back upright? How hard is too hard to hit? Also being aware of how strong they are now versus a month from now is important too as they grow and get bigger and stronger; I’ve known too many bigger little kids that don’t know their own strength.

2. It teaches them spatial awareness – How far away is that body I am playing with? Where are my legs and arms while I’m wrestling? Oops, now I’m upside down, how does that make me feel?

3. It makes them feel loved and given attention.

4. It’s fun! I’ll bet almost everyone at one time or another has played slug bug, tickle time, or wrestled with your sibling, or started a real fight with your sibling that by the end you two were both on the floor laughing.

5. They feel safe acting out being big and strong and knocking me down or punching me and knowing that I can take it.

6. Kids who play fight with their dads are being shown that men are big and strong. For somewhat feminist but mostly totally selfish reasons, I want them to know that women (i.e. ME!) can be big, strong, and tough too.

7. Along those same lines, grown-ups who play fight with kids are demonstrating that when people play or play fight, they are being respectful of each other’s boundaries, and if you don’t feel safe you can and should ask the other person to stop. If the other person doesn’t respect your boundaries then kids learn that’s not okay and they get time out or kids or grown-ups stop playing with them. This is a super-critical skill that is missing in so much rhetoric, both physical and verbal, in our society today.

8. As their mom, it is so fun to watch my kids get stronger, faster, more coordinated, and more creative in their physical play. They mix strategies, including saying silly things to catch me off guard, which is all part of the art of play.

9. Finally, I want to promote physical play of all kinds with kids and grown-ups alike. Whether that’s boxing, hiking, jump rope, tricycles, making forts, tree-climbing, or just going for an exploratory walk around the neighborhood, I support it.

I’m sure there are other reasons I’m forgetting, but those are my main ones.

My husband teaches natural movement classes, and before that parkour and martial arts. Slowly more women are joining the adult classes in all of those fields. But especially in the kids’ classes, the moms are just as likely to join their kids, but almost none participate given the opportunity. Why?! Some women (and men) don’t like physical contact activities. And that’s totally fine. But more often than not women are intimidated. I say no more fear! Get in there and push someone.

Why do you play fight with your kids? Or why don’t you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

UPDATE: I wrote a follow-up post about safe ways to roughhouse with your children that you can find here.

behavior · creativity · culture · happiness · Social

10 Ways to Make Your Life More Playful

As we start summer, remember to spend some time playing! Here are 10 tips how.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” ~George Bernard Shaw

I was 25 and traveling through Ireland by myself. I was in Cong, a rural small town outside of Galway. It was quiet. Very quiet. Even though I had met people on my trip, I was starting to feel lonely.

I was thousands of miles from home. I had nobody around who knew me well or cared for me, and in the days before cell phones or internet cafes, I couldn’t just get in touch with my friends or family at the drop of a hat.I went on a walk in a local park, along a wide stream that emptied into a small, pristine pond. The weather was grey and gloomy, the park was damp and romantic-looking, with its bending trees and dark water.

On a whim, I sat down by the edge of the pond and began to do something I hadn’t done in probably 15 years: I started to build a fairy village out of sticks, pebbles, and leaves.As a child I had practically lived in the backyard, building intricate tiny villages, exploring the spaces in between plants and trees, making tree roots into cottages and lumps of mud into hillsides.

It calmed me down and got me away from sometimes troubling thoughts. In Ireland, I found the same thing happened: My loneliness and anxiety vanished, and an hour or so later when I finished, I felt better: lighter, and less worried.

read all about the 10 Ways to Make Your Life More Playful.

behavior · children · disease · environment · happiness · health

Why adult hospitals should be more like children’s hospitals – FierceHealthcare

My hospital has a goat 120/365
One hospital has a goat on their property that patients can see. One way to keep things engaging and fun and not feel like “a hospital.” (Photo credit: Jen R)

It’s not as silly as it sounds; in fact it’s genius!

Hospitals could improve patients’ quality of life, satisfaction and even health outcomes if they simply model adult hospitals after the ones designed for children, according to an opinion piece written by a fourth-year medical student in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

Mark A. Attiah, who attends Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, writes in the piece, “Treat Me Like a Child,” that adult hospitals should take a page from pediatric facilities by creating surroundings that distract and reduce stress and making clinical practices more patient- and family-oriented rather than more convenient for caretakers.

Attiah was inspired to write the opinion piece after encounters with two pediatric patients during a rotation and another who transitioned into an adult hospital, according to an announcement about the editorial. The children’s hospital was bright, had longer visiting hours and allowed families to stay at the child’s bedside throughout the night. In addition, pediatric patients enjoyed the distractions of group activities, arts and crafts, and concerts. “If I ever get sick, I’d want to be taken here,” he writes.

more via Why adult hospitals should be more like children’s hospitals – FierceHealthcare.

Kid’s hospitals keep stuff light, upbeat, and optimistic. which is exactly what we need to get healthier, and want to go back to a particular hospital for our next ailment, since most hospitals care about that sort of thing.

brain · children · creativity · neuroscience

Photographer Takes a Boy with Muscular Dystrophy on an Imaginary Adventure | Colossal

Undoubtedly inspired by Mila’s Daydreams series, an awesome interpretation:

Slovenia-based photographer Matej Peljhan recently teamed up with a 12-year-named Luka who suffers from muscular dystrophy, to create a wildly imaginative series of photos depicting the boy doing things he is simply unable to do because of his degenerative condition. While he can still use his fingers to drive a wheelchair and to draw, things like skateboarding and swimming are simply not possible.

more via Photographer Takes a Boy with Muscular Dystrophy on an Imaginary Adventure | Colossal.

play · Social

Even the president of the U.S. makes time for play

Reposted from Hypable:

Though U.S. President Barack Obama is probably one of the busiest and most stressed people in the world, he still has time to show his fun side as seen in the latest photo released by the White House today in which he’s gets caught in a young Spider-Man’s web.

Check out the adorable photo of President Obama fighting Spider-Man below, which was released across the President’s Facebook and Twitter pages earlier today. If you look closely you can even see that the President seems to be making a battle-style sound effect of being caught in Spidey’s web – something all of us have to admit to doing when playing with kids in superhero uniforms!

We wonder which villain the President was taking on. With his hands in the air could he have been impersonating Doctor Octopus? We’re sure the youngster’s imagination was running wild as the President indulged the Spider-Man battle!

Nice to be reminded that there are always opportunities for play, and no matter how responsible or important or busy you are, play is important.

behavior · brain · creativity · happiness · health · mental health · play

6 Tips to Stay Playful Your Entire Life

Stella meets a friend on the trail.
A good way to stay playful: be open to new creatures and experiences. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Friday! Lately on Fridays I’ve been sharing my next great adventure destination, but this weekend that destination is staying put! And boy am I gonna have fun doing it! 🙂

For those of you who are also staying home this weekend and don’t know what to do about it, or maybe you had a loooooong week and you know you need to inject some fun into your day but your brain is so fried you can barely talk or type straight, here are some great suggestions from Remembering to Play. In fact, they recommend these tips for living an overall playful life, not just a playful day or two (although that is certainly a good start):

1. Play with movement:  Children have a wider range of body expression than adults.  We tend to move our bodies in the same, often rigid and predictable way. When walking down the street try moving your body differently. Start in small ways. Swing your hands in a different way, bounce your head from side to side, or shift your shoulders back and forth, one at a time. After a while try something bigger. Zig zag or walk backwards or sideways, or skip over the lines on the sidewalk. Or while walking in your office hallway twirl around one time…or perhaps more than once, tap the walls, or strut like you just made a million dollars for your organization!  Walk like you are the bees knees…because you are!
 
2. Play with perspective:  Instead of always looking straight ahead, or in your usual direction, look up or down, and in a direction you would not normally point your eyes. You may notice something different that you have never seen before.  A bird, a lovely coloured leaf, a funny looking cloud, a happy couple cuddling. It is easy, especially in big cities, to point our nose to ground and plow forward. Let’s remember that life is not about getting there but rather enjoying the ride. As you point your eyes in new directions, you never know what you might see, and what may come about from this new perspective.
 
3. Play with words/conversation: Whether it is, How’s it going, How was your day, or our conventional ways of starting a Monday morning meeting, we have many verbal or conversational routines.  It takes awareness and creativity to inject something new and fresh into the mix. For instance, instead of saying Hello to your friend, you could say Hey Hey, what do you say!?  Instead of calling your friend by their name, give them an unexpected nickname. Call them Sunshine or Peaches. (For over three years, a friend and I have consistently called each other Steve. It still brings us and others a good chuckle!) Or start your meeting off by having everyone share the last time they had a really good laugh. Read Creative Connections for more ideas.
 
4. Play with your surroundings:  What you surround yourself with either feeds or depletes your creative, authentic Self.  How often do you watch the news? Is the TV blaring in the background? What books do you read?  Do they inspire you?  What colour are your walls and what pictures do you hang from them. What music do you listen to?  Could you play more music in the background, say when cooking dinner or cleaning your home?  Do you have plants, or earth coloured tones in your home? Who do you spend your time with? Do your friends support your playful, authentic Self?  Can they hold space for the fullness of You?  Part of living a playful life is creating the container for playful living, and this means being clear on what supports or does not support authentic living.
 
5. Play with diverse activities:  As creatures of habit, it is easy to always order the same food, buy the same groceries, visit the same theatre and run the same route. Play means looking up when we normally look down, turning left when right is our regular choice. As we expand our range of choices and travel down new paths, we improve our brain functioning by building new neural pathways, and open to new possibilities. So instead of always seeing a movie, go to a live show instead. Instead of always eating the same meals, try to make one new meal a week.  Join a class, take a spontaneous road trip, visit a local museum, volunteer your time for a good cause, talk to a homeless person, pay for your friend’s meal, stop to smell a flower, play with a dog that is waiting for its owner, organize a games night, or start a book club. Do one thing different and you never know who you might meet or what adventure may unfold!
 

6. Play with your smile:  A single smile can change someone’s day for the better. I have experienced this when feeling a bit down, someone offers me a warm smile and suddenly I can feel my heart again. Life is not so bad anymore. In the same way that a picture is worth a thousand words, so too is a smile. So share your smile freely and fully. And share your smile with You as well. When feeling down, close your eyes and imagine a soft, warm, loving smile slowly appearing inside you. Allow it to get brighter, filling you with joy and light. Let your inner, playful spirit smile at you from the inside.

Read the original article.

Have a play-filled day! It will help you be more productive at work overall.