With opportunities for social interaction outside the family in short supply, many parents are stepping in as their child’s primary playmate. Is one way of playing better than another? In this episode with Dr. Shimi Kang, host Jessica Rolph explores the benefits of unstructured play and looks at how play prepares us for adulthood.
Dr. Kang is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and best selling author. She is the author of The Dolphin Parent: A guide to Raise Healthy, Happy and Self-Motivated Kids, and her newest book The Tech Solution: Creating Healthy Habits for Kids Growing Up in a Digital World.
[1:35] How did Shimi’s upbringing inform her work around play?
[3:17] Why is play such an important piece of childhood from a research perspective?
[6:10] We are hardwired to play.
[6:36] Shimi discusses a fascinating study that involves rats — play is crucial to their survival.
[7:50] How does play help children adapt to stress and emotionally process new experiences?
[9:18] Shimi explains the difference between free play and guided play. Why might parents want to emphasize one approach over the other?
[11:19] Why toddlers benefit from unstructured activities.
[13:04] How can we tell if our toddlers are over-stimulated or overwhelmed?
[14:45] How much should parents get down on the floor with their children, or should parents play the role of observer?
[15:48] Do children need their parents to help scaffold pretend play?
[17:26] Tips for parents who want to give their children more freedom to play.
[18:55] The challenges of being mindful of technology and how it is impacting parents’ relationships with their children.
[21:03] Jessica shares her takeaways from the conversation.
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Learn more about Dr. Shimi Kang