Healthy Kids

Published on July 1st, 2013 | by Madeline Levine

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Summer Play

Seven Ways to Let a Kid be a Kid

Why not make summer fun again? Here’s how.

  • Follow the principle that regular playtime is vital for everyone.
  • Get in touch with our own playfulness. Kids really do model what they see. Present a picture of adulthood that children will want to grow up to emulate.
  • Tell the kids it’ll be a laid-back summer. Ask them to create a fun bucket list of which activities they want to keep… and which they want to toss. Parents may be shocked by what they say they want to quit doing. Sometimes kids do things because we want them to, and somehow we fail to notice their heart hasn’t been in it.
  • Arrange low-key times with friends and family. This may mean turning down some invitations and setting aside an evening as family night. Make sure kids have regular opportunities to just hang out with family and friends.
  • Encourage free-range (not pre-packaged), natural and spontaneous play—like a sandbox in the backyard, blocks and impromptu neighborhood soccer games,instead of an amusement park, elaborate toys and soccer camp.
  • Make sure children also have total down time for lying in the grass looking at the sky, or sitting on the sidewalk sharing a stick of all-natural gum with a friend.
  • Show trust in giving youngsters some freedom. Choice is the hallmark of true play. Have confidence that when a child is off on his own and enjoying and directing himself in activities he chooses, that is his “job”. The chances are that whatever innocent activities he’s doing of his own free will are better than any “enriching” activity we might impose on him.

Read More: Letting Kids Just Be Kids

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About the Author

is a clinical psychologist and educator in San Francisco, CA, is the author of New York Times bestsellers, Teach Your Children Well and The Price of Privilege. See MadelineLevine.com/category/blogs.


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