GOOD

Want to Squash Bullying? C'mon, Let Kids Play

It's through play that we learn common sense and the kind of relationship skills that are key to success.

As the founder of a national nonprofit focused on play, I’m sometimes asked to offer parenting advice. Partly out of a superstitious fear that this will compel my otherwise lovable children to engage in suddenly reckless behavior, I generally decline. The other reason is that my parenting style tends towards a blend of things my own parents did and lessons learned from Barbara Woodhouse, the iconic, quintessentially 1980s dog trainer who wrote No Bad Dogs.


All that being said, I am not above offering general human advice, and I generally have just one suggestion, no matter the situation: less sugar, more sleep, play, and water. I'm not a doctor, so my insights around less sugar, more sleep, and water are really just based on personal experience. When it comes to prescribing play, however, I do have some authority. What we've seen at Playworks is that when kids get to play regularly in an environment where people are paying attention to climate and how it feels to be a participant, play can be an extraordinary springboard for social, emotional, cognitive, and physical well-being.

People sometimes push back on the idea that we need to be "paying attention" to the climate in which kids play, insisting that we are meddling too much and imposing too much structure. I think this is a false choice. When I was growing up, there was a real culture of play in which the older children taught the younger kids the rules to games, and maybe more importantly, the rules for navigating the group.

Seen The Sandlot? We may have lacked "The Beast" and a few of Hollywood's more pronounced touches, but a lot of kids growing up at the time can remember their neighborhood's Benny. As a result, we came to school with a pretty solid handle on how to get games going, how to resolve conflicts when they arose, and how to make sure that everyone was having enough fun to keep the games going.

But times have changed and that culture of play has largely eroded. Kids come to school without having had the exposure to the informal education that used to take place after school, on weekends, and throughout the summer. And so, while recess can be a time punctuated by conflict, we have found that paying attention to recess can mean a decrease in bullying, and an increase in physical activity, learning, and kids' sense of safety at school.

It's through play that we learn common sense and the kind of relationship skills that are key to success. And it has the added benefit of taking place in an environment that can be relatively low-stakes, ensuring that making mistakes and failing can be experienced in a way that promotes learning while enabling us to authentically connect with other people. All of which makes it a good answer when folks are looking for general advice.

Finally, play feels good and makes us happy. In the end, that's really what it's all about. Kids are intrinsically motivated to play. While I sometimes hear grown-ups fret about the challenges of getting kids to exercise the recommended 60 minutes a day, I have never heard anyone suggest that it was hard to get kids to play for 60 minutes. Rarely does such a virtuous activity come in such an enjoyable form.

Too often, we look at play as the reward for doing real work: one that we take away as punishment, or postpone indefinitely, awaiting that mythical moment when we suddenly have time to enjoy ourselves. Whether we're parenting a child, leading a team, or simply trying to take better care of ourselves, we would all do well to prescribe ourselves and those we care about more time to play.

Join the GOOD community in Organizing an Office Recess—and to create your own game. Click here to say you'll DO it, and get tips on creating your own game from this toolkit

Articles
via YouTube / Real Time with Bill Maher

Two great thinkers who agree America has it wrong about race appeared on the October 18th episode of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher," philosopher Thomas Chatterton Williams and astrophysicist, author, and "Cosmos" host Neil deGrasse Tyson.

While both people come from separate disciplines, each agreed that the basic concepts of race that are deeply ingrained into American culture are inherently wrong.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Asim Bharwani / Flickr and Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Isn't it rather arbitrary that men and women both have nipples and a man's can be seen in public but a woman's cannot?

Is it because women's nipples have a function and men's are essentially useless that we can see one and not the other? Or is it because since the beginning of time men have policed women's bodies and have decided that they are sexual in nature?

Yep, that's the reason.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via Shoshi Parks

Climate change means our future is uncertain, but in the meantime, it's telling us a lot about our past. The Earth's glaciers are melting at an alarming rate, but as the ice dwindles, ancient artifacts are being uncovered. The Secrets of the Ice project has been surveying the glaciers on Norway's highest mountains in Oppland since 2011. They have found a slew of treasures, frozen in time and ice, making glacier archeologists, as Lars Pilø, co-director of Secrets of the Ice, put it when talking to CNN, the "unlikely beneficiaries of global warming."

Instead of digging, glacier archeologists survey the areas of melting ice, seeing which artifacts have been revealed by the thaw. "It's a very different world from regular archaeological sites," Pilø told National Geographic. "It's really rewarding work.

Keep Reading Show less
via Law and Crime News / Twitter

In August, Anne Sacoolas, 42, the wife of and American intelligence official, collided with motorcyclist Harry Dunn on the road outside the Royal Air Force base in Northamptonshire, England.

Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road and said she had "no time to react" to Dunn coming down the hill. The teenager died at the scene of the accident.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

On Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted about some favorable economic numbers, claiming that annual household income is up, unemployment is low, and housing prices are high.

Now, just imagine how much better those numbers would be if the country wasn't mired in an economy-killing trade war with China, bleeding out trillion-dollar-a-year debts, and didn't suffer from chaotic leadership in the Oval Office?

At the end of tweet, came an odd sentence, "Impeach the Pres."

Keep Reading Show less
Politics