152: What Happens When Kids Don’t Get What They Need? Talking With Early Childhood Education Professors Miriam Beloglovsky and Lisa Daly

Welcome! To listen to today’s episode, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post and hit the triangular “play” button. Enjoy the show!

Rarely am I speechless – in life or podcasting – but today’s guests took my breath away with their observations of real young adults who grew up without open-ended play in their lives.

Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky, authors and professors, know a lot about how easy it is for a child growing up today to have zero practical knowledge. It’s because their lives were spent preparing for, and taking, tests.

Now as adults, these young people score really well on tests… But cannot accomplish simple tasks such as using screwdriver. Imagine not having the mechanical knowledge to use a screwdriver!

Thankfully, Daly and Beloglovsky spend their days teaching tomorrow’s teachers, and have a wonderful go-around for this burgeoning problem. And, it is burgeoning – more and more young people leave high school without any practical knowledge, move out into the world looking really well-prepared on paper, but lacking competence and confidence in many key areas of their lives.

Go to weturnedoutokay.com/152 for show notes and key links to this mind-blowing conversation with two thoughtful, engaged people!

Thankfully, human nature being what it is, Daly and Beloglovsky report that even grown-ups can learn these important mechanical, physical concepts.

But there’s only one way: through play.

It’s the tinkering, investigating, and coming up with “I wonder” questions that educates people about gravity, velocity, mechanics, and every other science or engineering concept.

So my question for you is: how are you incorporating play into your young child’s life?
The answer may be more important to their well-being and happiness than you imagine.

Key Links:

Check out Daly and Beloglovsky’s book, Loose Parts, here – it’s a great resource for incorporating open-ended play into your child’s life.

Also, their website, Reflective Perspectives, discusses more about open-ended play and loose parts. Click here to check it out.

Click here to read the Alliance for Childhood’s great paper, Crisis in the Kindergarten.

For my conversation with Tanya Trainor, nursery school owner and a woman who has seen the transformative nature of giving kids loose parts, go to weturnedoutokay.com/036.

If you’re seeing aggressive behavior, or sadness, or passivity in your child – and you’re worried that it’s due to the lack of open-ended play – the Ninja Parenting Community could be just the place to get help.
It’s where I help parents just like you figure out how to handle all the tough stuff our kids throw at us.
Click here to learn more about the community!

137: How to Help Your Child Curb Stress and Anxiety: A Conversation with Mom and Mental Health Counselor Janine Halloran

Welcome! To listen to today’s episode, scroll all the way down to the bottom and hit the triangular “play” button. Enjoy the show!

Lots of things can happen over the course of a day to make us all feel anxious…How does your child handle anxiety?

Today’s guest is a true play specialist.

Today licensed mental health counselor, play expert, and mom-to-2 Janine Halloran gives us some wonderful – and very specific – tools to help our kids handle stress.

True to the nature of We Turned Out Okay, my hour-long conversation with Janine covers lots more than this! Janine and her family are spending the year in California, clear across the country from their home in Massachusetts; we talk about how and why the Hallorans took on this move. We also dig into the concept of fidgets, devices to help people concentrate better – and this podcaster realizes that fidgets are more of a thing – in her own life – then she realized.

To read about Janine’s stress-busting advice, get links to some great books about play and her websites on encouraging play and teaching children coping skills, and to listen to the show click weturnedoutokay.com/137!

Today’s episode is brought to you by the Ninja Parenting Community:

Do you struggle to manage your child’s behavior at home?
Is she in trouble at school or child care?
Is he starting to think of himself as a “bad kid” – even though you know he’s not?

Get the expert advice, training courses, and support you need

To help your children, but especially to help yourself.
The Ninja Parenting Community teaches moms and dads just like you to get into their best parenting mindset and thus be happier, less stressed, and more confident in parenting and beyond.

Click here to learn more about the Ninja Parenting Community, and start worrying less and enjoying more at home!

“Trust your gut… Go with it… Help your kid.”
– Janine Halloran, in today’s conversation

As parents we often don’t realize the kind of power we have to help our children surmount the anxieties and stresses they may be feeling.

Janine suggests:
– spend time with kids and observe their behavior; kids don’t say to us “I am worried… I am stressed out…” The only way to truly understand the cause of their anxieties is observation.
– kids might be anxious for any number of reasons; even if it’s tough to determine the cause, we can still help… We can teach coping mechanisms, we can listen if our kids are able to talk about their fears, we can support them by spending time with them, talking to them, reading with them, showing them in our behavior how to best handle stress and anxiety
– we can encourage the use of fidgets! The idea of a piece of Velcro under a desk, putty or play dough to squeeze, or a small ribbon or piece of felt to hold – specifically to help people concentrate – is new to me.

Fidgets were a true revelation: it turns out I use them for myself all the time!

Maybe you do, too.
(If you’re a hair twirler, you most certainly are using a fidget : )

Key Links

Click here for Janine’s Coping Skills for Kids website; click here for her Encourage Play website. In both places you’ll find more resources and suggestions for alleviating stress and encouraging curiosity and creativity.

To listen to my first conversation with Janine, click here.

Click here to check out Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Every Temper Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life With Your Young Child in Amazon; you can even read the introduction for free to determine if my book will be helpful to you.

Here is the link to Not A Box; click here for Not A Stick; click here for the Loose Parts book; and here for the book about Owen and his blanky.

036: Happier and More Engaged Kids – Just By Changing Their Playground! With Nursery School Director/Owner Tanya Trainor

Today’s episode was super fun to record because I got out of my usual studio and hung out at what’s easily the most amazing playground I’ve ever seen. All of the equipment we see on a typical playground – huge climber, big slide, jungle gym – was gone, and in its place were loose pieces. Bricks, cement pavers, wooden siding, bales of hay, an 8 foot long rowboat, tree stumps suitable for sitting on, or rolling around, a rain gutter with a hose near the top were some of the many things that replaced more typical playground equipment.

It’s not a huge space, and today’s guest, nursery school director and owner Tanya Trainor of Miss Tanya’s Nursery School, knew that typical equipment would no longer work when, in spring of 2014, she found out that the fall zones around each piece of equipment were expanding. So, Tanya and her staff did an amazing thing: they asked the children, “when we get rid of the climber out on the playground, what should we replace it with?” Their answers created the wonderful results spread out before me.

Listen to hear more about:

1) the improvements in how the children relate to one another and play together in going from more conventional equipment to this new kind of playground

2) the dramatic drop in frequency of negative behaviors; Tanya reports far fewer incidents of conflict or need for redirection since moving to the new kind of playground

3) how engaged the children are in both the creation of this new outdoor play space and their use of it

If you take just one thing from this episode, I hope it is this: play with “loose parts,” as this kind of outdoor play equipment is called, is a critical part of every child’s development and fosters all the important things that children will need to take into adulthood (social skills, problem-solving skills, creativity and curiosity.) Has your son or daughter’s preschool adopted the loose parts philosophy yet?

Podcast Episode 033: Play Is The Key With Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Mom Janine Halloran

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From the moment I first read her article on The Many Perks Of Play in the October 2015 issue of baystateparent, I knew I was going to have to talk to Janine Halloran. She explains everything there is to know about play and how it can benefit kids, in a really well-written and entertaining way.

Janine graciously agreed to come on to the show, and our interview is really one of my favorites so far!

Today, Janine shares that play is:

1) critical to the well-being of every human, and even many animals – the skills learned through play are uncountable, our reasoning and thinking skills are honed through play, we even learn how to get along with other people through play

2) endangered in our culture; the average kid’s time is way too structured, which crowds out the potential for open-ended play; since open-ended play is where so much of the magic happens, it’s downright dangerous to have so little of it in a child’s life

3) cheap, and/or free – think about how entertained your kids are just by the boxes that the stuff we buy comes in… we do not have to spend all kinds of crazy money to provide great playthings to our kids

If you take just one thing from today’s episode, I hope it is this: a thriving family needs play, and lots of it. How are you playing with your kids today?

Connect with Janine at her website, encourageplay.com, where she has great advice about helping get more play into your child’s life.