Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Choosing toys that support healthy development

The American Academy of Pediatrics has put out a great position paper advising on the place of toys in a child’s life and what types of toys are best. This point is great:

Recognize that one of the most important purposes of play with toys, especially in infancy, is not educational but rather to facilitate warm, supportive interactions and relationships.

Simpler toys tend to be better for kids’ developmentally and will have more longevity than flashy, electronic toys. Look for toys that promote creativity and imagination. A toy that has one purpose will grow old quick, but something like a wooden block set can have many uses.

Some of the toys and games that are perennial favorites at Solaris include:

  • Finger putty such as Crazy Aaron’s
  • Play-doh
  • Modeling Foam
  • Kinetic sand
  • Legos / Duplo
  • Don’t break the ice
  • Giggle Wiggle
  • What’s in Ned’s Head
  • Beanie babies (great for symbolic play)
  • Balls
  • Bubbles
  • Puzzles
  • Zoom ball
  • Mini trampoline

Further reading:

Selecting Appropriate Toys for Young Children in the Digital Era

Toy Buying Tips for Babies & Young Children

How Play Connects To Learning

 

 

 

Play is important for kids…and adults!

Play is so fundamental to our work here. It’s the natural way for children to learn about their world. But play is equally important for adults.

The importance of play for children is well documented. Now researchers are turning their attention to its possible benefits for adults. What they’re finding is that play isn’t just about goofing off; it can also be an important means of reducing stress and contributing to overall well-being.

“What all play has in common,” Brown says, “is that it offers a sense of engagement and pleasure, takes the player out of a sense of time and place, and the experience of doing it is more important than the outcome.”

Read more here.

How Meditation Can Help Kids

In this blog post on the NY Times, the author discusses new research around the benefits of meditation for children:

These investigations…illustrate how meditative practices have the potential to actually change the structure and function of the brain in ways that foster academic success.

Fundamental principles of neuroscience suggest that meditation can have its greatest impact on cognition when the brain is in its earliest stages of development.

This is because the brain develops connections in prefrontal circuits at its fastest rate in childhood. It is this extra plasticity that creates the potential for meditation to have greater impact on executive functioning in children.

FREE Adult Yoga Classes for Houston Compassion Week

Adult Yoga Class

For Houston Compassion Week we are running free adult Yoga classes for parents of kids with special needs. Our classes will run on April 16th. The morning class will be led by Annette Raj at her Yoga Bhavana studio and the afternoon class will be led by Yulene Broussard at Solaris Pediatric Therapy. If you would like to attend, please fill out the registration form below.

Yoga Bhavana, 1415 Kipling St, Houston TX 77006

Solaris Pediatric Therapy, 2510 Van Buren St, Houston TX 77006

A new way to look at stress

In this Goop Q&A, Stanford professor Kelly McGonigal explains why stress may actually be good for us sometimes, and that there is more than one type of stress.

The body has a whole repertoire of stress responses. Sometimes when we experience stress we’re experiencing a state that is healthy, that makes us resilient, that makes us more caring and connected, that makes us more courageous. The experience might be physically similar in some ways to stress states that we would describe as debilitating anxiety or other negative stress states, but they are not toxic. There are a lot of different ways to experience stress…

…And then there’s a relatively new idea, which is that there’s an ability to grow from stress built into our biology. I think people have always recognized that holistically, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger—they recognize that as a platitude. But to see it in the biology of the stress response—that your stress response can increase neuroplasticity to help your brain learn from the experience, that you can release stress hormones that function like steroids for not just your body but also for your brain—that’s an incredible and very new insight…

…we’ve been so inundated by this belief, this mindset, and this message that stress is toxic, that stress is harmful, that you should avoid or reduce stress, that in moments of feeling stressed out, we think: “I shouldn’t be stressed out right now. If I were a good parent, if I were a good mom, I’d be calm right now, I wouldn’t be upset. If I were good at my job, I’d be so smooth right now under pressure. I wouldn’t be frantic, I wouldn’t be worried, I wouldn’t be overwhelmed.”

And then that leads us to cope with situations in ways that make it harder to find meaning in them. It makes it harder to solve problems that can be solved. It makes it harder to connect with others so that we know that we’re not alone. And I think that’s what makes believing stress is bad for you so toxic. It’s not a magic trick. It creates thoughts and emotions that make it harder to thrive. And it changes the way we cope.

The Benefits of Slow Parenting

It’s too easy to get caught up in the trap of busyness and lose track of what is important. We really like this slow parenting movement which calls for families to simplify their life and be present with each other.

John Duffy, a clinical psychologist and author of “The Available Parent”, advises parents how to start slow parenting.

I encourage parents to take some time to just watch their children, whether they are playing, doing homework, or eating a snack. Take a moment to drink them in. Remember and remind yourself how remarkable your children are. That pause alone, even if momentary, can drive a shift in the pace.

Slow parenting is good for young brains too!

Doing too much can be draining on adults, but it can be debilitating for kids whose brains are still developing.“In early development, kids are still wiring. They need to have moments of doing and moments of being for integration to happen,” says Contey (Carrie Contey, cofounder of Slow Family Living). “If they don’t take space for integration that leads to meltdowns and overtiredness. Kids then think they’re not good at school or a certain sport, when that’s not the fact but the byproduct of being overdone.”

Read the full article on Slow Parenting here.