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The We Turned Out Okay Podcast

What kind of hijinks did you get up to as a kid? Did you climb trees? Did you run around outside barefoot? Did you eat raw cookie dough? Maybe you wanted to do these and other crazy things, but you weren't allowed… Let me ask you this: what if your children wanted to? Would you let them? If you hesitate there, well, you're in the right place. The We Turned Out Okay podcast is where we learn the hows and whys of hovering less and enjoying our young children more. You get to learn from host Karen Lock Kolp's mistakes, but especially from the successes of her guests. Each helpful, lively conversation illustrates why this show really is "The Modern Guide to Old-School Parenting."
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Mar 10, 2016

Today we are taking a break from our month of food – and how to get your young child to eat it – and answering a listener Q&A. When Ruth asked her question, I knew that I wanted to bring it up on the show ASAP because, if you have more than one kid, you have sibling rivalry and that didn't seem like it could wait until April!

Ruth asks: "Hi, I would love some advice as to how to reduce the amount of sibling fights in our home. It seems to be constant! My boys are nearly 3 in nearly 5. It seems that they both have a hard time expressing their feelings of frustration in a respectful/nonthreatening tone without physical contact. This makes everyone feel tense and is putting strain on parental-child relationships also. Many thanks, Ruth"

Press play to hear my advice for Ruth about this all-to-common family problem! Click here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/061 for notes on the show, as well as the links to resources that I recommend for Ruth.

Mar 8, 2016

Today, guest Jeannie Marshall and I talk about a subject near and dear to my heart: food. Italian food, no less – Jeannie, Canadian by birth, and her husband chose to make their home in Rome, Italy a little more than a decade ago. When Jeannie became pregnant with their son Nico, she developed a fascination for how Italians introduce their babies to food, and the part that food plays in Italian children's lives now that factory foods and agribusiness have made inroads into Italy. She details her experiences in one of my favorite books, The Lost Art of Feeding Kids.

Our conversation reflects Jeannie and her family's love of Italy, Italians, and Italian food – and also her family's first-hand experiences fighting that battle that we fight every day: getting in start scrolling expensive and tasty meals on the table (and then getting our kids to eat those meals).

Find the complete notes to this episode at weturnedoutokay.com by clicking here!

Mar 1, 2016

What's your experience with your young kids and food?

Do they eat what seems like a balanced meal sometimes – and then other times reject anything and everything you put in front of them?

Have you ever felt judged about your kid's eating, either by friends or relatives – or maybe by the pediatrician?

This month on We Turned Out Okay, we'll dig into food and kids, and hopefully by the end of March you'll have some more clarity on what can seem like a super-cloudy subject!

We've got three great interviews with guests you're going to love – I couldn't help but include one extra conversation about food, weeknight chaos, and families, coming up in the middle of the month – and two Your Child Explained episodes, where we try to see everything from the perspective of our kids. And finally, two Just-You-and-Me episodes to bookend the month of March!

Today, we start off with the disaster that was our approach to food during our first years as parents, and what I did to fix that.

When our oldest, now 15, visited the pediatrician for his three-year-old annual visit, the doctor had two questions for me: "what does Max eat every day, and what is his exercise level?"

… I had nothin'. How could I tell her that Max's four food groups at that time were 1) Cheez–Its, 2) Macaroni and Cheese, 3) Actual Cheese, and 4) The Occasional Banana? How could I tell her that his exercise level was nil?

That day, I realized that it wasn't just Max going down this terrible path; Ben and I were eating terribly, and not getting proper exercise as well!

It was time to start making some changes.

First, I started cooking again; I experimented with muffins, figured out a recipe that Max loved, that was decently healthy – at least, better than what I could find in the store – and most importantly that kept him actually full until lunchtime.

Grab that recipe – and check out the show notes for this episode – by clicking here or going to weturnedoutokay.com/059!

Feb 25, 2016

This past Tuesday, dad and teacher Bret Turner and I had a fantastic conversation which ranged across many topics including science fiction, Donald Trump, incorporating music into the classroom – and the fact that, as a young child myself, I was molested. Bret and I spoke about confronting fears as a parent, and I just know you're going to love that conversation; listen here or by going to weturnedoutokay.com/057 (but that episode is by no means a prerequisite to today's.)

Today I'm exploring inside the mind of a child – a very specific child, me, in fact – to help you figure out how to know if something is wrong. Click here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/058 for notes to today's episode!

Feb 23, 2016

Last fall, I posted a picture (that picture, right over there) on instagram, a quote from the movie After Earth: "Fear is not real. It is a product of the thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice."

Today's guest, Bret Turner, and I ended up having a fantastic, lengthy and deep conversation that started with this quote. I absolutely love instagram, and this kind of thing is why – without it, I would never have met this thoughtful first grade teacher and father to a 17-month-old girl.

I love these People-In-Your-Neighborhood conversations, with parents just like you, out in the real world, combining family and work in a balance that allows for contentment, positivity, and joy. Bret and I talk about all kinds of things, from why music is such a great transitional tool for young children to the positive lessons older kids and teens can take from Inara, the beloved prostitute on Joss Whedon's short-lived gem, Firefly.

Click here go to weturnedoutokay.com and read more about my conversation with Bret!

Feb 16, 2016

Today's episode is a little different: I read a key chapter from my forthcoming book! The chapter, called Handling Tantrums With HEART, is going to help you keep your cool even while your toddler or preschooler is melting down. Here I share my method for dealing with tantrums, which I came up with to help you retain your sanity even when the tantrums are flying fast and furious in your home.

Today, I read it aloud because I want to know how you feel about it. What did I miss? What would help you more in dealing with your child's temper tantrums?

Also, I tell you how you'll be able to get the book – Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics – for free when it launches on April 3!

Click here to get the full show notes at weturnedoutokay.com/056.

Feb 11, 2016

In this Your Child Explained episode, where we always try to get into the heads of our young kids, we look more closely at how kids face challenges. Today's show digs more deeply into one aspect of episode 54, which dropped Tuesday and features mom and New York Times best-selling author Jessica Lahey. While episode 54 is not a prerequisite to today's show, take a listen back if you get the chance because our conversation will really help you wrap your mind around the idea of what works – and what doesn't – in helping your kids overcome setbacks and challenges.

For the full notes to today's episode, click here click here to go to weturnedoutokay.com/055… If you're listening on your iPhone and that link is not clickable, here's what you do: tap the three little dots on the right, opposite the title of this episode, which pulls up a very useful menu. In that menu, click View Full Description, and that will make the links clickable. Enjoy!

Feb 9, 2016

Several years ago, today's guest wrote what was for me an earth-shattering piece in the Atlantic Monthly (read it here). Jessica Lahey's article discusses an experience she had as a middle school teacher, where she realized a student had plagiarized, called the student's mom to discuss the failing grade the student would be getting – and the mom said "you can't fail her… I wrote that paper for her, she has too much on her plate and couldn't do it herself."

My guest's article talks about how, when your mom writes your papers, you are robbed of the experience. It's one way in which you are not learning how to fall down – by writing a bad paper – and get back up again.

Fast forward to summer 2015, when I heard Jess on the wonderful podcast The Good Life Project, discussing both the article and her new book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. Last December, I attended Jessica's live presentation about The Gift of Failure, and she graciously offered to come on the podcast; today's episode is the conversation we had a week or so later, and it's a great one!

To read more about our conversation, click here to this episode's notes page at weturnedoutokay.com.

Feb 2, 2016

Winter is, hands down, my favorite season – which makes sense, given that I'm Canadian by birth. And yet… when the kids were small it was such a killer! We would make plans and somebody would get sick; a simple excursion to the grocery store felt like preparing for a six week hike through Alaska; we'd all feel so cooped up all the time.

So today I want to help you handle wintertime better with your little kids that I did with mine!

This episode presents my five favorite ways to battle the winter blahs; click here to go to episode 53 at weturnedoutokay.com!

Jan 28, 2016

Today, listener Lindsay channels the thoughts we all have on those days in which our kids refuse to listen. Lindsay writes "it's not like after a few asks we don't make him do it; we do and then we're all in a bad mood because we had to yell. It's stuff like getting dressed or coming to eat dinner. What is an old-school way to get him to just do what he has to do? Or is this just what parenting is all about?"

In this Your Child Explained episode, where we always try to understand what's going on in the minds of our young kids, we jump into how to give our kids a sense of independence and control over their own lives – so they don't end up living in our basement when they're 35 – while preserving our sanity.

Click here for the full notes on this episode!

Jan 26, 2016

When today's guest was five years old, he fell off a railway bridge and landed on hard ground 30 feet down. He spent weeks in a coma, and years healing; at the time a doctor wrote into his chart "don't expect Joel to lead a normal life."

Well, that statement certainly turned out to be true! Joel Boggess of The ReLaunch Show is living a downright extraordinary life, getting a degree in counseling psychology and then combining that with his background in radio to cohost – along with his wife, dentist and business guru Dr. Pei Kang – the ReLaunch podcast. Joel's written an Amazon bestseller, Finding Your Voice, and he and Pei work together as entrepreneurs, podcasting and coaching.

Joel graciously agreed to come on We Turned Out Okay a few weeks previously, spent the morning of our interview at the emergency room for treatment of a busted elbow, and still came through with our chat. Talk about going above and beyond!

Our conversation ranged from Joel and Pei's two golden retrievers, retired therapy dogs, to some great advice to help us help our kids through tough situations.

Click here to continue reading the show notes for episode 48!

Jan 19, 2016

Today's episode is a real milestone: Episode 50! I can't believe we're already here, 50 episodes in. I really wanted to do something special today, to mark the big 5-0, and since it's so close to the first of the year I got to thinking about New Year's resolutions.

Then an instagram follower, writtenandbound, got in touch to ask me how she could best help her three-year-old daughter overcome a huge fear and go in the ball pit at gymnastics, and I knew that goal-setting and New Year's resolutions needed to be our topic today!

To read about my 2015 resolutions and how I did with them – and for the advice I gave to writtenandbound – click here to go to this episode's show notes.

Jan 12, 2016

Happy New Year!

During the first two weeks of January, we are revisiting favorite, helpful conversations from the very beginning of We Turned Out Okay. These are episodes that listeners really responded to, right from the start, and as I'm planning the next several months of what the podcast will be, it seemed like a great time to go back, re-listen, and remember.

Today I'm so happy to bring you my conversation with college professor and leadership expert Dr. Bob Nolley, who helped me be a better parent by thinking of myself as a leader with his podcast Labrador Leadership.

Click here to read the notes to this episode at weturnedoutokay.com!

Jan 5, 2016

Happy New Year!

During the first two weeks of January, we are revisiting favorite, helpful conversations from the very beginning of We Turned Out Okay. These are episodes that listeners really responded to, right from the start, and as I'm planning the next several months of what the podcast will be, it seemed like a great time to go back, re-listen, and remember.

Today, to start your new year off right, I know you're going to love listening to award-winning author Daniel Wolff, who wrote one of my all-time favorite parenting books: How Lincoln Learned To Read. In fact, I loved this book so much that it is one of the 9 1/2 Key Resources for Old School Parents (which you can get by clicking here.) During our conversation, Daniel shares one of the most valuable pieces of advice for parents that I've ever heard.

Click here to read this post's notes at weturnedoutokay.com!

Dec 29, 2015

Today, we finish up our three-part series about the three best gifts you can give your children; we also finish out the year, so best wishes for 2016 to you and your family!

In December's Just You and Me episodes, we've been Stopping the Holiday Insanity by focusing on gifts we can give our children, one episode per gift.

The first two, Your Time and Ritual/Routine, help make family life run more smoothly and also bring lots of enjoyment – to both you and your kids.

Today's gift, though, does more than bring enjoyment and a smooth schedule.

Today's gift, Gratitude, could be the most elusive – but it could also be the most important one.

Starting in early January 2015, I write down (if I can't write that day because of tendon issues, I say out loud) five things I'm grateful for each night before I go to bed. It doesn't seem like much, I know, but it's one of the most important micro-changes I made this year; these tiny changes have made a huge positive impact on my health. It's as if focusing on what I'm grateful for shows me all the good things in my life! In fact in today's episode I read from a favorite book of mine, The Slight Edge, about a happiness researcher named Sean Achor and the impact of gratitude that Sean has found in his research (if you want to see a great Ted talk, here is Sean's… you'll laugh and learn all the same time.)

I want to share something I'm so grateful for, which is… You.

The joy of connecting with you, helping you worry less and enjoy more in your parenting, well, all that's helping me! 2015 has been a tumultuous year – the year in which I got to ski in Colorado, for the first time since spending the winter of 2011 unable to walk more than a few steps, and not only did I ski but I skied with my parents and my children. It was the year in which we adopted dogs, and five weeks later needed to give them up because I had a relapse in my tendon condition; the year in which I won the first story slam I ever entered; the year in which Ben helped me get this podcast off the ground (and the year in which I conceived of it in the first place.)

A year full of ups and downs. But one of the biggest ups is the way that this podcast was received; when you contact me by email, or instagram, or Facebook or twitter to ask a question or say thanks, that's when I feel the most gratitude.

Thank you SO much for listening, commenting, questioning – I look forward to lots more of all the above in the new year.

Here's to a great 2016!

Dec 24, 2015

Carey Andersen, Tuesday's guest in episode 45, had so many wonderful and inspiring things to say; we can learn a lot from her positive approach to balancing family and work – and the fact that she does it all with multiple sclerosis. Our chat this past Tuesday isn't a prerequisite to today's Your Child Explained episode, where we always get right into the minds of our children and see what makes them tick. But go back and give it a listen if you can; posted during one of the busiest weeks of the year for many of us, the lead up to Christmas, my talk with Carey Andersen will have you remembering why we do everything that we do!

Today, I'm thinking about a story Carey told regarding the terrible lottery placement her five-year-old ended up with for his kindergarten year, and how the appeals board allowed him to move to a more suitable school based on his very simple declaration:

"I don't have enough time to play."

Carey and her husband heard that simple sentence and knew they needed to make a change for their son, and it got me thinking about what can happen when we really hear our children.

Even when they are pre-verbal, they might be trying to tell us a simple truth – and it's up to us to hear it.

In real time, this episode drops on Christmas eve, and if your life is full of Christmas crazy, and you still made the time to listen, I hope that today's episode gives you something that you really need. For my part, I want you to know how much I appreciate that you listened! I wish for you a peaceful and wonderful time as we start to say goodbye to 2015.

Dec 22, 2015

If you're listening to this the day this episode drops, it's three days before Christmas… in many parents' lives one of the busiest, most harried and frustrating days of the whole year. The laundry list of gifts for teachers, snacks for parties, plans for travel or hosting, endless shopping and wrapping certainly has me reaching for the chocolate vodka more often than is strictly necessary! If that's how you're feeling too, this episode just might be the best antidote to Christmas Crazy that you could find.

I met today's guest during Hub Week, Boston's first annual October celebration of all the cool things going on in the city. I attended several great events, and one of the best-of-the-best was called The State of the Podcast 2015 and featured a hero of mine, Christopher Lydon of Open Source, who's been in radio for a long time and – as I found out at the event – was one half of the first podcast ever posted.

The event was incredibly well-planned and well-run and felt very intimate even with hundreds of people in attendance, and afterwards I got to talking to today's guest – and found out that she was one of the organizers! As we kept talking, Carey Andersen shared about her experiences parenting a six-year-old while living with multiple sclerosis. Long story short, Carey graciously agreed to come on the show, and even suggested a direction for our conversation: asking for and receiving help. A difficult thing, but something that every parent needs sometimes.

We talk about some really cool stuff! Here's a sampling:

1) how Carey and her husband moved their kindergartner from an unsustainable situation – when he was five, their now-six-year-old would come home from school saying "I don't have enough time to play" – and into a different public school, where he is thriving in first grade

2) Carey shares a story about asking for help from an unsympathetic Cambridge police officer (who, it turns out, had just completed a departmentwide empathy training) and helping him understand that, even when somebody doesn't look sick, they still might need help

3) we share about how our respective health problems have a similar upside: the ability to feel gratitude for every good thing, no matter how small

My conversation with Carey Andersen, a woman with a job she loves, a supportive husband and family, and a great little boy showed me the power of asking for and accepting help. With 2015 drawing to a close, it feels right that our last guest interview of the year focuses so clearly on giving and receiving and feeling grateful for everything we have.

Dec 15, 2015

In today's Just You and Me episode, we jump into the second of the three best gifts you can give your kids

In the previous Stop the Holiday Insanity episode, 41 (click here to listen), we talked about Time. Today in this second installment of Stop The Holiday Insanity we discuss the second of these three best gifts: Ritual.

Growing up, every year around December 1 my Mom got out wrapping paper, scissors, ribbons, and tape and we would make a chain that functioned as our Advent calendar. It's such a thrill to share that ritual now, with my boys. Even though they're 15 and 11 years old, they look forward to the day we make our Christmas chain.

There are other such rituals in our holiday celebrations – Christmas eve dinner, for example, which is always French onion soup and a delicious French-Canadian meat pie called tourtiere, with cookies for dessert. I think ritual is one of the most important gifts you can give your children.

In good times, rituals are what bring us together and help us feel as if were part of something bigger than ourselves.

Involving the kids in our holiday rituals from an early age has so many benefits for them! It exposes them to the traditional foods of our cultures, and as they grow it becomes something they can remember from times past and also look forward to in the future.

Plus, if there have been major changes since last holiday season (like a divorce or loss of a loved one) predictable and comfortable routines over time help kids get through the tough stuff.

Also, they can see their own growth and development. Something that was hard for them to do last year, and it easier to do this year, shows kids their own mastery or competence.

So in thinking about these first two gifts we can give our kids – Time and Ritual – what are some simple teens and rituals you can start this year? What are some that you can keep going from previous years?

Thanks for listening, I hope your holiday season is less insane than those of holiday seasons past! Next week we have a great guest, someone I can't wait for you to hear from, and then during the last week of December 3 great gift we can give our kids – the third and possibly best way to stop the holiday insanity – will air. Keep hanging in there!

Links Discussed in This Episode:

Here's episode 39, an E-rated conversation with cartoonist and author Emily Flake… Please enjoy it with headphones, so you don't upset children, coworkers, or relatives.

Click here to head to instagram, where you can be part of the giveaway to win Emily Flake's new book Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting. The drawing is on Christmas day, so you still have some time to enter! To do so, just scroll down in my instagram feed until you find the picture of Emily's book, leave me a comment under that picture, and tag a friend. Maybe you'll week on Christmas morning to find an extra present for you!

If you're enjoying the podcast and getting good value from my advice, but still feel like it's not enough, or that you need advice more tailored to your situation, check out my Parent Coaching page.… I'll help you worry less and enjoy more in your parenting.

Dec 10, 2015

Today's Your Child Explained episode – where we always try to get into the heads of our kids – is a little different. Usually, the Thursday YCE pertains to the previous Tuesday guest episode. This week, though, I wanted to share something a little different.

Last night my husband and I got to attend a live presentation with interest-led learning expert Blake Boles. His most recent book, The Art of Self-Directed Learning, is geared toward helping teens and young adults figure out what they really want out of life, and how to get it.

In today's episode, I'm really thinking about that presentation, and specifically one question from an audience member. Find the show notes to this episode here, on my website.

Dec 8, 2015

It can be tough to find time to read the paper on a Sunday morning. In fact, I generally don't finish it until much later in the week! But Sundays, I always find time for a favorite column, Miss Conduct, because author Robin Abrahams – stand-up comedian, doctor of research psychology, researcher at Harvard business school and professor of psychology and writing – shares great relationship advice in her own special, fun way.

When Robin agreed to come on my show, I did a little happy dance! And… I did another little happy dance when we had our conversation :-)

Highlights include:

1) Robin's most favorite question she's ever been asked – and why

2) how the Miss Conduct column is similar to Seinfeld

3) outstanding advice for listeners in the midst of the crazy-busy month of December (or, any crazy-busy time leading up to an event): include the children in the lead-up to the big event, and try to spread the joy out over several days… I'm heeding this advice and it's really helping me enjoy the season

I hope you find our conversation lively, fun, and above all helpful as you navigate this next crazy few weeks, which for most of us is going to be pretty darned busy!

Dec 1, 2015

Today, the first of the three-part series about stopping the Holiday Insanity by using the three best gifts you can ever give your children, we dive into: Time.

In each of the Just You and Me December episodes – today's, December 15, and December 29 – we talk about one of these three gifts.

Today's is time!

For the show notes to this episode, go to the We Turned Out Okay website by clicking this link.

Nov 26, 2015

Tuesday's guest – cartoonist and author Emily Flake – and I had a great conversation (although, full of swears and subject matter totally inappropriate for work or children – please take note :-) about modern parenting, but even with nearly an hour to talk we didn't cover everything I wanted to cover.

Which leads to today's Your Child Explained, episodes in which we are always looking right into the brains of our kids and figuring out what makes them tick. In her book, Mama Tried: Dispatches From The Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting, Emily shares that her older sister got pregnant and had a baby at age 17 – when Emily herself was just 13. The difference in how these two sisters were treated by the people around them while pregnant can't be understated; Emily's sister got a tremendously judgy and shaming vibe at 17, whereas Emily heard all about the "wonderful journey" that she and her husband were now on, while she was pregnant at age 34.

It really got me to thinking about what it means for our kids when we treat them too preciously – when we take care of their every need and want long after they're too small to take care of themselves. Kids treated as if they'll break at any moment come to believe that the world exists for their comfort and enjoyment only. This is dangerous, for the child and for our society.

The date this episode airs happens to be Thanksgiving Day of 2015, and it is in the spirit that I ask the question: what's the opposite of believing that the world exists for your comfort and enjoyment? I think the answer is believing that we exist to serve – that serving in some way creates a feedback loop that makes us happy and filled with gratitude…

It's a shift that paradoxically gives us the comfort and enjoyment we seek.

And it's our responsibility to start teaching our kids early to serve others – for their own comfort and enjoyment.

How do we do that when they're small? Well, letting them contribute to your family through housework and cooking, helping them understand that giving of themselves and their abilities is what will bring them the most comfort and enjoyment – that seems like a pretty good start to me.

Happy Thanksgiving, I hope you're having the kind of Thanksgiving that is just perfect for you and I hope you know how grateful I am that you are listening to me today!

Nov 24, 2015

WARNING: Today's show is full of expletives and stuff you do not want your child to know about yet… please make sure to use headphones or listen away from the kiddos! It's an awesome show, just there are pieces of it that are totally not suitable for children :-)

Today's guest is the wonderful and talented author and cartoonist/illustrator Emily Flake. She writes a weekly comic strip for grown-ups, Lulu Eightball (find it here) and her work regularly appears in The New Yorker, as well as appearing in the New York Times, Newsweek, The Onion, Forbes Magazine… In short she is a creative force! A creative force who, three years ago, had a baby, a beautiful little girl with the awesome nickname Tug. Last month Emily released her new book, Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting, a gritty, tender, superb analysis of parenthood today. Part memoir, part cartoon, this book had me laughing until tears were streaming down my face.

My conversation with Emily ranges all over the countryside, from the things we found in common that she and my husband share, and that her husband and I share, to what you learn about sex and babies when your older sister becomes a teenage mom, to Emily's wonderful advice for new parents or parents-to-be.

Want to win a signed copy of Mama Tried for yourself? I'm having an instagram giveaway! Go to@weturnedoutokay on instagram, find the picture of the book Mama Tried, leave a comment under that picture, and share the giveaway with a friend who might also like to enter by December 24, 2015. I'm choosing the winner on Christmas day, so some lucky mama will have an extra Christmas present this year!

Nov 17, 2015

Today's episode dives into the four best, most practical ninja tactics that I know and use every day to teach my boys right from wrong. Because, that's really what discipline is, isn't it? Teaching right from wrong – in my experience as a teacher and parent, positive discipline is not only the most user-friendly way to do this, but the most effective, too.

Listen to the episode for details, but here are the four ninja tactics of positive discipline:

1) stop using the timeout chair and timer for timeouts; let your child take a timeout him or herself, and most importantly let him or her decide how long it should be

2) use natural consequences as your disciplinary measures; often, the natural consequences of an action are all it takes to teach right from wrong

3) start early – like, immediately – in the development of empathy with your child

4) consider the power vacuum dynamics that come into play when you ignore a behavior you don't want to see; ignoring the behavior rather than engaging about it makes that behavior go away sooner

And, those are the four! I hope they help you every day, but whether they do or they don't, I hope you will click the contact tab on my website and tell me about your successes, failures, and questions. Especially questions.

Thanks for listening! If you listen all the way to the end, I share a project I've just started: helping parents individually, when you feel like your challenges as a parent are more than listening to the podcast can fix. Go here to find out more!

Nov 12, 2015

In episode 36 – which aired this past Tuesday in real time – nursery school owner and director Tanya Trainor shared about the changes she, her staff, and the children they serve made to their playground. The traditional slides, climbers, and other big (pricey) equipment typically seen on the playground are gone, and in their place are what Tanya calls "loose parts."

Tanya shares that loose parts on the playground have translated for them into more social engagement and less redirection/discipline, a result they never expected.

Today, in this Your Child Explained episode in which we always get into the mind of our kids and see what's going on in there, we discuss The Keys to the Kingdom and how to promote them so that our kids grow into creative, happy, socially engaged and above all successful adults.

I learned a lot about how loose parts bring out the best in children talking with Tanya and it's this concept of "the best" that I think of as The Keys to the Kingdom – in other words, the keys we must give our kids that will open up so many doors as they grow up. These keys are:

1) open-ended play, meaning play that doesn't have a goal, or a fixed ending point

2) intrinsic motivation, where the children do what they're doing because it's what they want to be doing, not because someone in authority, like a teacher or parent, is telling them to do it (or offering rewards for doing it, or punishments for not doing it)

3) social engagement, in which the children are playing and working together, part of the same team

Watching the kids play this way at Miss Tanya's Nursery School reminded me of this saying, by Brian Sutton-Smith: "the opposite of play is not work. It is depression." Kids need loose parts to tinker with, the ability to work without an adult telling them what to do, and people to engage with… Give them these Keys to the Kingdom – and watch them flourish!

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