Archive for October, 2013

5 Ways to Use Play as a Coping Mechanism

October 28th, 2013 by

We often write about the benefits of everyday play for both physical and mental growth. But not every day is ordinary, and sometimes our kids have to cope with negative or confusing experiences. From larger tragedies to illness in the family or loss of a loved one, children have to get through difficult times, too, but often don’t know how to express their emotions. That’s where play comes in as a powerful coping mechanism. Read on for five ways to use play to help your child cope with difficult situations.

1. Keep play open-ended

By letting your kids create imaginary scenarios in which anything is possible, you allow them to express emotions without feeling forced. In these situations, your children can lead the play session and mold it as they see fit, allowing you to watch and listen to what your kids are really saying, as opposed to trying to coax your child into sharing.

2. Help older children by creating outlets

Older children can benefit from getting out pent up energy that they might be storing inside when they bottle up their emotions. Doing physical activities like walking or playing basketball can be a good way to help them release energy and become comfortable enough to start a conversation.

3. Let young children soothe themselves with play

Young children without full language abilities won’t be able to verbally express their emotions, but they can help themselves feel better by playing and moving around, which triggers a calming response in the brain. Make a blanket and pillow fort, and crawl around with your children to help them feel better.

4. Be neutral and on their level

One of the most powerful things you can do to help your children cope is to just be there and play with them on their level. By getting on the floor and reacting neutrally and supportively, you help your kids know they are loved. Keeping your responses as supportive and neutral as possible helps your children express feelings without a fear of being judged, scolded, or told their feelings should be different.

5. Let them talk through events

Pretend play allows children to process events and simplify them in ways they understand. They can create characters or plots to match their state of mind, reenact situations that are on their minds, or ascribe their feelings to another character in ways that might help you understand how your child really feels.

Using play to cope can be a very effective strategy for children who have experienced a traumatic, scary, or confusing event. Sometimes, the best way to help your child is to just be there and listen, and let play do the rest.

The Top 3 Reasons Your Playset Should Have a Roof Feature

October 14th, 2013 by

Playset with roof featureThere are still some good play days left before all outdoor activities will be about sleds and snowballs. When it comes to making every day a good day to play on the swingset, having a roof feature is key. It can protect your kids (and your equipment) from the elements, making your fort a great place to hang out and play in way more weather conditions than just 70 and sunny.

Why is a roof feature such a good thing to have?

1. It keeps your kids safe from the sun
The sun can be damaging during any season, and despite all the sunscreen in the world, your kids will likely get a lot of sun exposure when playing outside. A roof feature ensures that at least one part of your back yard has shade for your kids to escape harsh sunbeams throughout their play session. And when summer rolls back around, a roof can provide good shelter for your kids during the day when the sun is pounding down on every other part of the yard. Your kids can take a break from swinging and sliding and play captain and lookout from under the cool protection of the second story.

2. It keeps your play equipment cool
The valuable shade that a roof feature provides keeps the sun at bay in a second way as well—it provides a shaded area to help keep your play equipment cool. Putting a roof over your play area can help ensure that your equipment isn’t so hot from the sun that it’s unbearable to play on. Plus, if your roof overhangs any other equipment, like a climbing wall or rope ladder, it will keep those features of the direct sun and cool as well.

3. It keeps kids and equipment dry during rain
The sun isn’t the only thing that can slow your kids down during play. Rain can put a major damper on outside activities. But with a roof, the fort part of your playset can remain dry—and if your kids run there for cover during an unexpected rain, so can they. The fort is a great spot to wait out a rain shower and plot your next play moves. Plus, keeping the play set safe from the elements helps prevent premature weathering.

So if your playset doesn’t have a roof, what are you waiting for? Your playset can become an all-weather play zone for your kids. Picnics, board games, play strategy, and fun with friends can all happen under the protection of your fort’s roof.