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Let Your Kids Be Kids

As you gear up for the new school year, don’t forget to simply: let your kids be kids. Worksheets, projects and early wake-ups can wear your child down and there should still be time for them to relax, worry free. Stress shouldn’t be plaguing our kids but it is starting earlier and earlier due to pressure and competition.

On top of school and all that it encompasses, there’s also after-school activities. Be careful not to over schedule your child. Children need unstructured free play. Unstructured play is important to encourage your child to explore their creativity, allowing them to use their imagination and develop their own sense of independence. Free play should be unscheduled, so their after-school activities don’t count. Let them try something new, on their own time and watch their development soar.

Kids need down time so let them breathe. Running from activity to activity is not good for anyone, children need time to be kids. Parents feel the need to have their child entertained constantly. Remember, less is more!

The reality is, the more you let your child be creative and entertain themselves, the more confident they’ll be and the easier your life will be. There’s a fine line though, I’m not saying neglect your child and their needs, just find a balance between structured and unstructured play.

Whether it’s kicking a ball, riding their bike, playing with blocks, dressing up, coloring, etc. They need free time just like the rest of us.

According to KevinMD.com, for the last 25 years kids have been spending decreasing amount of time outdoors. Organized sports don’t count – Why? When kids are left to their own devices, they will create games and stories in the world around them. Being outdoors gives kids more to work with, like rocks and sticks, and more opportunities to explore. Not to mention the magic of ‘fresh air’!

Another perk to free play: no TV, computer, or texting. And if you ask any teacher or parent, children typically have improved focus and attention after playing outdoors and getting physical activity. Some studies even suggest that time outdoors makes for better focus in kids with ADHD. It can also just better their all-around mood as we see while they are laughing and smiling. Happy kids mean happy parents and happy teachers.

Down time is also important for you as a parent. It gets your child off your leg and enables you to do the things you have to do. Get them outside and you’ll both be smiling!

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Speaking of Marriage

Winifred M. Reilly, M.A., MFT

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