The Need for Unstructured Time and Downtime—For Parents

Recently, there has been a flurry of interest and popular support in the idea of downtime for children, spurred perhaps by a backlash against the push to become involved in activities, to do rather than be, to compete, to keep going, to perform.

As Dell’Antonia wrote in a New York Times op-ed in 2016, we ought to protect children’s “PDF”: that is, playtime, downtime,...

Child Development

More than child’s play: How parenting can turn us “childlike,” and why it should

When my daughter Sophie was two and a half, she asked me one afternoon, "When are you going to get little again?"

Taken aback by her question, I simply said, "Huh?" but she persisted.

"When are you going to wear baby clothes and slide on the baby slide?"

As a speech-language pathologist and early childhood expert, I didn't know what to tell her. I should have something right to say, I thought....

Child Development

Losing the “mommy guilt”: Think like a kid

Everyone who’s had a child—or been around children—has heard a bizarre or unanswerable question, often multiple times a day. Whether it’s about how many drops make up a rainbow or how to drive to the moon, there are times when we can only shake our heads and say simply, “I don’t know.”

Why do kids do this? They’re curious about the world, but that’s not the only reason. As Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget suggests, children...

Child Development

3 Ways to Improve Attention

Raising children can change the ways we pay attention, in multiple ways. At the most basic level, our brains become hyper-aware, as the brain’s limbic system, controlling “fight or flight,” reacts to dangers in children’s environments. Whether a child has a severe allergy or just a tendency to run into the street, we can start feeling as though we’re on constant alert.

However, there’s a positive side to this: kids, from the...

Child Development

4 Ways to Clear the Parenting Mind

Parenting well these days can feel harder than ever, especially for millennials and Generation Xers. We’re constantly given messages about which way to parent “best,” and we’re flooded with ideas about how to help children thrive. Whether we're told to co-sleep with our infants or teach them French from their time in the womb, we're often held to standards that are near impossible to meet.

It's natural to try to be our best as parents,...