Is Reblogging like Regifting? Here is Teacher Tom: Eleven Things To Say Instead Of ‘Be Careful’


Forgive me for reblogging someone else’s great ideas today. But Teacher Tom’s words and images of children enjoying “risky” outdoor loose parts play moved me. And he has such great suggestions for how caregivers can help kids take good risks and explore their worlds unafraid, even as they learn how to be safe and think through their play. Thank you Tom! Click below for his article.

Source: Teacher Tom: Eleven Things To Say Instead Of ‘Be Careful’

What Kids Need During Holidays






No matter what holiday you celebrate, kids have certain needs that adults should consider during the holiday season (and all year round!).

Here is my round up of reminders for adults who are rushing and stressed with the many tasks and obligations of important holidays.

Kids Need:

Routine – Kids feel safer and calmer when following daily life routines. Holidays throw routines up into the air like confetti, and the result can be unpleasant for everyone. Whenever possible, keep sleeping/eating/napping/family-time routines in place.  If you can’t, talk to your children about what to expect. Where are they going or who will visit? What will they do and see? What is expected of them? Consider making a family calendar together depicting special events, and have children place a sticker on each day at they count down the days leading up to and including the holiday.

Play time – All children need time to play and unwind, and I am talking about  open-ended play, as well as games, art and cooking activities and physical play where they can run , jump and climb and get their sillies out. Make sure they put down their electronic devices and get away from screen time.

Permission to not perform – Sometimes when we get together with family and friends over the holidays, kids are expected to be squeezed, pinched, hugged and kissed by relatives who may need this affection a lot more than the child does. If your child has sensory issues or a history of trauma, this kind of touch can feel unbearable. You can talk with your child about this phenomenon prior to gatherings and coach them on how to respond to adults in a way that is polite but helps them maintain their body integrity. You may need to run interference and advocate for your child with well-meaning relatives, letting them know what kind of touch your child can tolerate.

Positive Limit Setting – All children need limits, especially those who are wired from too much holiday sugar or excitement. However, a constant barrage of “No!” “Stop that!” “Behave!” can wear thin and get you nowhere. When setting limits, ask yourself, is this a limit that needs to be set, or am I being arbitrary? If the limit is necessary, take a few deep breaths and try your best to remember these steps.

  1. Name the feeling or desire the child is showing before you set the limit. “Your are so excited.” Or “You really want that toy.” Or “You are so mad at your brother”.
  2. Set the limit  with a calm voice in a concrete way. “The furniture is not for jumping on” or “I am not buying toys today” or “Your brother is not for hitting.”
  3. Offer an alternative.  “Let’s run/play/dance/get your sillies out.” Or “You can play with your toys when you get home.” Or “You can punch a pillow or stamp your feet”
  4. Repeat if necessary, but give the child a chance to reign it in and make a good decision first. They might surprise you. Avoid over-explaining why the limit needs to be set. This tends to escalate negative behavior.

Moderation – The onslaught of media can turn the nicest child into a black hole of greed – commercials are aimed at children and can overstimulate them with desire for toys that may or may not be appropriate or affordable. Try to limit unsupervised screen time. Help children narrow down desires to a few affordable choices by making lists together. More is not always better. It is okay to say “No” to their requests without shaming them for wanting the toy – blame it on the advertisers! And try not to feel guilty if you cannot afford gifts. Your love and attention are the most valuable gifts you can give them.

The video below is a great reminder to us all about what  REALLY matters and what kids really need!




Self-Regulation through Play

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I posted a question poll on  Twitter yesterday to try something new.

What kind of play promotes self-regulation – open ended free play or board games?

At first glance, those of us who work with young children will shout out happily: FREE PLAY! Why? Because it allows children  to explore their environment at their own pace and interests. It provides many opportunities for them to problem solve and access their imagination and creativity.  It gives them feed back loops to build vital connections in their developing brains. It helps them make meaning and gain mastery over childhood challenges or traumas. As Lev Vygotsky said:


No question. It is great stuff.

But my tweet was a trick question. Structured, close-ended games and toys also have their place in a child’s development of self regulation. When a child is in a stressful situation, sometimes a familiar game like CandyLand or Checkers might help them calm down and feel safe. If a child has played about something that made them feel vulnerable in some way, playing a close-ended game, doing a puzzle or coloring in a coloring book after more open-ended play can shore them up and help them get back to baseline. Board games teach turn taking, frustration tolerance, how to be a gracious winner and how to  lose without losing it.

When we think about how to best support a child’s developmental and emotional being, it pays to provide many different types of play. Sensory play with water, sand, shaving cream, oobleck or play dough is wonderful for toddlers and preschoolers. Constructive play with blocks, legos, cardboard boxes, any raw materials, is great for preschoolers on up. Dramatic play with play dress up materials, puppets, dolls, play food, miniature figurines, etc. speaks highly to preschoolers and young school aged kids. All children need to move their bodies, run, jump, balance, climb and take moderate physical risks in order to gain mastery over their body in space. Preschoolers can be introduced to board games, but the rules need to be flexible and adults should know that it is fine for a young child to change the rules so that they win. When children reach the age of 6 and 7, they can begin to learn to play by the rules and practice winning and losing. Games without toys such as tag, hide and seek, Mother may I, Simon says, kick the can,  and capture the flag teach invaluable lessons in social interactions, and teach kids to rely on themselves for entertainment.


We can learn a lot through observing a child’s play choices. We can see what they are drawn to and comfortable with, what challenges, pleases or frustrates them, and we can introduce new and less familiar activities to scaffold their growth. We can provide play time and attention as caring adults, and we can also make room for them to play on their own and with peers. Children need time to muck around and explore without an adult agenda always steering their play.

However you slice it, the more playtime a child gets, the more opportunities there are for cognitive, emotional, social and motor development. Advocate for play to be included every day in Pre-K and Kindergarten, and for recess to be part of the daily curriculum through grade school. Kids focus better on academics when they’ve had time to play out their sillies. Keep them growing a head taller than themselves at every turn, and you will be on the right track.

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Taming Tantrums


Parenting is never easy – it may just be the toughest job in the history of the world. As a mother of two young boys, and a pediatric social worker, Randi Goldfarb  has seen a lot of tantrums in and out of hospitals.

I found that tantrum behavior is universal, and no one knows what to do. Then as a parent, I couldn’t control my own child’s tantrum.


Randi put on her thinking cap, asking herself how do you help a child calm down  and keep calm? Then she put on her creativity cap and rolled up her sleeves. The result is the keep calm kit©. Continue reading

Child Abuse Prevention


Thank you so much for joining me on my blogging adventure. It may take me some time to find my groove, and you may see me jumping around a bit to different topics. Please comment on which topics are of most interest to you, and I will do my best to give you what you need and enjoy.

Today, I am writing on one of the topics I had in mind when I set up this website – advice for child life specialists, but my hope is that it will be helpful for teachers and caregivers as well. A wise man, Jon Luongo, advised me that I have a great deal of writing material squirreled away in the posts I have been making to the Child Life Forum for a number of years. Today I responded to a request on the Forum for information and resources regarding running a workshop for parents/caregivers on child abuse prevention. Below is the gist of my response. Continue reading



A cluster of school children spill onto the bridle path from an entrance on the upper west side of Manhattan. They emanate pent-up energy and their voices crescendo as they discover the reservoir vista. I register some mild annoyance at their squealing, but it only takes me a moment to recalibrate and appreciate their excitement. They overtake me and I walk for a bit beside the noisy group, eavesdropping on their exuberance and their teacher’s failing attempts to curtail it.

“Stop walking that way. Walk like this. Pick up your feet!” Continue reading