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Why Kids Need Risk, Fear, and Excitement in Play

“Be careful!” “Not so high!” “Stop that!” Concerned parents can often be heard urging safety when children are at play.

Recent research suggests that this may be overprotective and that kids need more opportunities for risky play outdoors.

Risky play is thrilling and exciting play where children test their boundaries and flirt with uncertainty. They climb trees, build forts, roam the neighborhood with friends, or play capture the flag. Research shows such play is associated with increased physical activity, social skills, risk management skills, resilience, and self-confidence. Read more

“Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory of the Burning of the School”

This article is part 8 of 8 in the column Flights of Fancy

As little ones gather up their school supplies and head off to school this September, what are the attitudes about school that they bring along with their backpacks?  In meeting kids during research, I have heard plenty of young ones say that they only like two things about school:  gym and recess.  It’s disarming for a college professor to consider this; we don’t have either gym or recess in college. Read more

School: Motivate Your Child to Embrace Learning

This article is part 5 of 5 in the column Two Peds in a Pod®

“What will happen if your grade drops from an “A” to a “C”?” I sometimes ask during a check-up.

Many kids shrug and say, “Try harder next time, I suppose.” Others look shocked and anxious about the possibility and are speechless.

Still others will point at their parents and say,”THEY would kill me.”

Observe a toddler learning a new skill. You will see him repeatedly try to fit a ball into a hole until he is either successful or wanders way. He is not anxious or afraid of failure. He is not “stressed” about trying to learn. Although all children start this way, too often toddlers become big kids who end up in my office discouraged and worried about school performance. Today’s guest writers, based on the work of Dr. Carol Dweck, discuss ways parents can influence their children so that they embrace learning.

– Drs. Lai and Kardos

Read more

Kindergartners Get Little Time to Play: Why Does It Matter?

Being a kindergartner today is very different from being a kindergartner 20 years ago. In fact, it is more like first grade.

Researchers have demonstrated that 5-year-olds are spending more time engaged in teacher-led academic learning activities than play-based learning opportunities that facilitate child-initiated investigations and foster social development among peers. Read more

How Childhood Trauma can Affect Mental and Physical Health into Adulthood

Stressed Woman

For millions of children in the U.S., poverty, neglect or abuse is a reality of everyday life, though these struggles are often hidden from view.

Adult survivors often feel ashamed about and stigmatized for their childhood adversity. This makes it difficult to recognize that these events occur.

While it’s easier to turn away than to face these issues, we can no longer afford to do so. Stress, Read more

The Upside of Playful Risk

This article is part 7 of 8 in the column Flights of Fancy

Summer is here, time for kids’ action adventure.

Reread that opening sentence. Did you think of movies released in the summertime?

Or did you think of the adventurous active pastimes that kids engage in during summer? Did you think of: Diving off the high diving board into the deep end of the swimming pool? Climbing toward a tall tree’s top and perching there for a while looking down at the world? Crawling in through the window of a homestead that nobody has lived in for years? Riding a bike with no hands on the handlebars down the steepest hill in the neighborhood? Read more

Study Shows Childhood Emotional Abuse Linked to PTSD and Opioid Abuse in Adults

This article is part 10 of 15 in the column Kid's Capital Watch

Children who experience emotional abuse are more likely to struggle with post-traumatic stress and opioid misuse as adults, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Vermont.

Though previous studies have shown there is a relationship between abuse of all kinds and substance misuse, this is the first to specifically connect emotional abuse and opioid use, the researchers said. Read more

Mom, You’re Not So Good at Danish Yet

This article is part 2 of 4 in the column American Mom In Denmark

Our family is about to celebrate the two-year anniversary of our arrival in Denmark, known to the expat community here as a “Danniversary.” So here we are, two years into this Danish adventure, and I’m sorry to say that the following is the most successful unscripted conversation in Danish that I’ve had with a stranger yet (translation mine).

Cashier: Oh, I see your cats very well like to eat.
Me: Yes. Yes. That they do. Read more

Play With Me

This article is part 1 of 4 in the column American Mom In Denmark

In January 2015, I moved to a small town in rural Denmark with my husband and two young sons. Only two weeks before, we’d moved from Somerville, Massachusetts, out of the only home our kids had ever known. Our life there had been relatively happy and satisfying: We lived within reasonable walking distance of a subway stop, a lovely Indian takeout place, a decent Mexican restaurant, a lovely bakery, the Tufts University campus, six parks, two groceries, and a beautiful walking path along the Alewife and Mystic Rivers. We had nice groups of friends from various stages of our adult lives scattered around the area, and we had a small, modest apartment with wonderful upstairs neighbors and a vegetable garden in the back yard. The Boston area had been good to us and I wasn’t exactly itching to leave. Read more

“My Voice”

This article is part 1 of 3 in the column Youth Voices

Wagner Middle School

There are many different ways writing gives me a voice. For example in writing I can say what I feel and I can say it how I want, some stuff I say in my writing I cant speak it. Meaning I cant like say it, I don’t know why but writing just lets me show my feelings better than I can speak it. Lot of people might say if you can write it you can speak it but that’s not always true. Read more

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