How Play Helps Children Cooperate

As I’ve written about before, play is so much more than meaningless fun for kids.

Just as independent play is an important part of your child’s development, play with you facilitates a greater bond between you and your child, and deepens his trust in you. 

Play is one of the main ways our kids connect with us—their most important grownups. It offers your child some of the warmth and closeness he needs a good healthy dose of daily.

In addition to all of these benefits, play is also an amazing tool to help increase our kids’ cooperation, improve their behavior, and decrease the struggle that we often face with everyday tasks.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

How to Get Your Kid to Play Without You (and Why You Should)

I often say to parents that play is like the blood that runs through your child’s veins. He absolutely thrives on it—in fact he needs it to grow, develop, understand the world, and process his experiences.

 Play helps your child discover what he can do, as well as what he can’t (yet) do. It gives him a chance to experiment (will this ball fit into this container? How about this one?), to practice building his skills (if I jump off this sidewalk 100 more times, I will do it without stumbling!), and through this process of discovery, experimentation, and practice, develop his self-confidence.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

From Play Yards to Yes Spaces: Creating a Safe Play Space for Your Child

New parents often tell me that they struggle to get any kind of self-care once their baby arrives. I can relate—after my son was born I felt totally disconnected from the habits that had nurtured me before his arrival.

Here’s a little secret. One of the best things you can do for your young baby also comes with a bonus: it’s self-care for you, too.

That thing that is so good for both of you is simple (and yes, hard too): put your baby down.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

Want a Self-Confident Kid? Try This.

One of my favorite RIE® Basic Principles is “trust in the infant’s competence.” Starting from birth, we trust that our baby is capable of—and interested in—learning and exploring the world to the degree she is ready. This means we allow her ample space and time to reach milestones on her own, or even to do things like grasp a toy without our help.

The big idea behind this principle is that, if given the space and time to learn and explore on his own, our child will not only develop beautifully, he will also cultivate a sense of his own capacity and capability from a very early age. 

I think this principle is applicable to our children long past infancy—indeed, throughout their developmental years. Here’s how trusting our kids’ unfolding can look as they grow.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

What True Quality Time With Your Child Feels Like

Recent studies have shown that parents are spending more time with their kids now than they did half a century ago—a lot more.

This is cause for celebration in my book, but I must admit that it leaves me with a bit of a nagging question.

What is that time really like? 

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

What if You Stopped Teaching Your Child?

My son recently got it into his head that he HAD to try ice-skating. So, over the holidays we took him to one of the seasonal rinks set up around the city at this time of year for San Francisco kids who otherwise might never see a real ice-covered anything.

The rink was, as my Irish friends say, chock-a-block with kids and adults of all ages. I’d say the average skill level was Dangerously Unsteady, with a couple of Just-Starting-To-Get-It folks thrown in the mix. One very thrilled, Approaching-Intermediate-Level Dad was zooming around the rink, narrowly missing taking out an unsuspecting skater with each lap.

I took one look at this scene and immediately went into Professor Mom mode. We got my son’s skates on, and I started coaching him on how to walk over to the rink without breaking his ankle. We secured one of those skater-assistance devices that’s a bit like a walker on blades, and bravely hobbled onto the ice.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

Help Your Child Sleep Better With Bedtime Rituals

Ahhhhh, sleep.

It’s one of the first things people ask new parents about, and the focus and source of a lot of our time, energy, and stress during the first years of our kids’ lives.

I recently visited with close friends and their week-old baby. One of the first things Dad said to me was, “wow, the sleep deprivation finally caught up with us. We were fine for a few days and then…” he trailed off. Then: “This is hard.”

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

The Best Gifts You Can Give to Your Child This Holiday Season

It’s upon us: the holiday season! Thanksgiving is around the corner for those of us in the U.S., followed by the winter holidays, which usually means one thing for many of us: time with family.

Before we have kids, this time of year can feel like a lot, even if we have healthy and uncomplicated relationships with our family (ha!).

But when we add kids to the mix, the things we weather during this time of year—travel, delays, long meals, family dynamics, big feelings of all kinds, and increased stress due to all of this—can make us want to put a pillow over our heads until January 2nd.

While we can’t necessarily change our complicated family dynamics or remove all the stress from the holidays, there are a few things we can do as parents to make this time of year easier on all of us, especially our littlest members.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

How to Weather Big Transitions

My son starts at a brand-new school tomorrow. At 4.5, he’s starting preschool later than a bunch of his peers, but it was the right decision for our family to keep him in his sweet, small daycare for an extra year.

These kinds of transitions are part of parenting for all of us, whether it’s a move to a new school, a new home, or to becoming a sibling instead of an only child. Here are a few tips for weathering these kinds transitions with respect for your child’s process and your own.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF

4 Ways to Meet Your Child's Resistance

I happen to know that my child is not the only one who resists the normal, everyday aspects of his existence with a kind of endurance that would be admirable were it not so darn aggravating.

Here are a few tips for managing your child’s resistance respectfully, and with an eye toward deepening her sense of connection (which—you guessed it—also can help lessen the resistance). All of these tools work well with babies, toddlers, and older children as well.

Read More
Print Friendly and PDF