The Therapeutic Power of Play to Heal Shame in Children

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The Therapeutic Power of Play to Heal Shame in Children

The nature of shame is to hide. It keeps pain hidden, the dark corners of our psyche concealed from the masses, too unbearable to share with others, too unbearable to be seen. Look at people with tremendous shame and their head tilts down, their eyes avert contact. Many even have a hard time looking straight into a camera. They must look away. The pain of shame and blame runs that deep.  Children are, of course, not immune to shame. Raised in abusive, neglectful, toxic environments, shame inevitably buries into their psychophysiology. Beliefs such as “I am wrong”, “I am bad”, “It’s my fault” are common amongst children who experience chronic failures in love; who grow up not feeling emotionally or physically safe; who come to […]

The Co-Arising of Play and Grief: How Empowered Choices Draw Out the Pains of Childhood

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The Co-Arising of Play and Grief: How Empowered Choices Draw Out the Pains of Childhood

It’s been said, and it’s certainly been true in my experience, that if you laugh long enough you’ll cry, and if you cry long enough you’ll laugh. Two sides of the same coin, these emotions are closely entangled. As participants connect to the joys of play in my playshops, it’s common for them to feel the stirrings of grief rising within. With each moment of exuberance and freedom reclaiming its rightful place in their body, it becomes harder to deny the despair from having lost their innocence decades ago; from forgoing beauty and wonderment to survive a challenging or unbearable childhood. Indeed, for many who delve deep into the wild fields of childlikeness, grief co-arises with newfound playfulness. Play draws it out from its sleepy […]

Banks of a Wild River

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Banks of a Wild River

In play, children remain in a fluid, flexible state. Moment by moment they open to greater, more creative versions of themselves. They touch and bloom the seed of potential in their heart. Children, in their mischief, imagination and spontaneous explorations, don’t try to become someone. They are someone already. They know this without knowing it. They feel the larger instinct of life pulsating through their veins, calling them to reach and spiral into infinite potential. Be sure in educating and parenting our most precious little ones, you do not shape this natural unfolding into what it doesn’t want to be. Instead, give it space to breathe, to run freely. Let any rules and structures you use be like banks of a wild river, guiding children […]

4 Reasons I Take Issue With Teaching Children Meditation in School

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4 Reasons I Take Issue With Teaching Children Meditation in School

I take issue with teaching children meditation in school, particularly when done without a wider view of the systemic causes for child dysregulation and a more thorough understanding of trauma. Yes, meditation has been proven to be effective with young ones. I know the research is there backing it up. But… Take a moment to consider the four points below, and ask yourself: What is the real issue at hand? What do children fundamentally need? And if we addressed the issues I lay out, while better meeting children’s core biological needs for love and safety, would we still need to teach meditation? Or wouldn’t the desired result of meditation—calm—arise more organically? 1. Anxious systems The problem is not the child, but rather the systems they are […]

What Adults Struggle to Make Room For Within They May Find “Too Much” in a Child

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What Adults Struggle to Make Room For Within They May Find “Too Much” in a Child

For adults disconnected from their power, a child’s unbounded, spirited nature can easily be “too much” – too much enthusiasm; too much spontaneity; too much imagination; too much anger; too much sadness. The greater the repression in the adult carried forward from childhood environmental failures, the more overwhelming an exuberant child can be. It takes a lot of playfulness in the heart of an adult to receive and encourage beaming amounts of playfulness in a child. It takes a soaring imagination in an adult to welcome a child’s imagination wishing to travel the galaxy. It takes much depth in feeling for an adult to safely empathize with the large emotions of a child. Indeed, what an adult struggles to make room for within s/he may […]

Put “Reality” Aside. Children Need You to Dream With Them and Dance In Their Wild World.

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Put “Reality” Aside. Children Need You to Dream With Them and Dance In Their Wild World.

“The magic, the wonder, the mystery and the innocence of a child’s heart are the seeds of creativity that will heal the world.” ~ Michael Jackson In one of my Remembering to Play playshops a father shared that his young son expressed interest in one day becoming an astronaut. “How did you respond?” I asked. The father replied, “By saying, ‘how are you going to do that?’” It wasn’t just about the words the father chose but the doubt and concern he reenacted in his tone, a tone his son would have felt. It’s very tempting and easy to jump to the How. For the inhibited, rational adult, forgetful of the child within, the logistics of the dream are far more alluring than the dream […]

The Wisdom of Giving Your Child a Sword to Play With Instead of a Gun

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The Wisdom of Giving Your Child a Sword to Play With Instead of a Gun

There is a great debate amongst the educators and parents I present to about children playing with guns. In fact, it may be the hottest of all debates (even more than whether to allow children to go up slides!). Does playing with guns support or hinder child development? More so, how might a child playing with guns today impact society tomorrow? As a boy, I remember happily playing with guns. Whether it was with my cork gun shooting cans in my backyard or playing war with plastic guns with my friends, I only have good memories. Gunplay was a means of using my imagination, connecting with others, and being in nature. Looking back now, however, I view those times from mature hindsight, with a depth […]

Much More Than Things, It’s YOU Children Want ~ Playing With Simple Moments of Joy and Connection

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Much More Than Things, It’s YOU Children Want ~ Playing With Simple Moments of Joy and Connection

I had the fortune to wander through a forest-nestled playground with a group of young children a few weeks ago. It was the beginning of Autumn here in Vancouver. The leaves were turning golden yellow and burnt orange, falling large and small from soaring maples. The idea was to take the kids to one of the most imaginative outdoor playgrounds in the city. Full of colorful slides, swings, bongo drums, climbing apparatuses, bouncy and spinny things, the playground did not fail to delight their curious eyes, exploring hands and climbing feet. After a while I suggested we change things up. There was another playground about a 10-minute (or 30-minute for little legs) walk away. I thought it would be nice to stroll along the winding […]

We Stop Dogs From Play Fighting Because We Fear Our Own Wildness

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We Stop Dogs From Play Fighting Because We Fear Our Own Wildness

“You were wild once. Don’t let them tame you.” ~ Isadora Duncan I’ve written much on the importance of letting children, and ourselves, play. But what about animals, namely dogs? Today I was walking through forest trails with my friend and his dog, Koa. Like many canines, Koa is full of energy and bounces up and down in excitement when another dog approaches that he has a connection with. While walking amongst the tall cedar and pine trees on the gravel and dirt path, Koa came across a gorgeous white and brown Australian Shepard. Immediately, they leaped onto each other with pure joy, as if old dear friends. Never have I seen two dogs play for as long as they did without a break, which […]

Children Hear “No” a Lot! So How About Giving Them a “Yes Day”?!

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Children Hear “No” a Lot! So How About Giving Them a “Yes Day”?!

“The moment I decided to follow instead of lead, I discovered the joys of becoming part of a small child’s world.” ~ Janet Gonzalez-Mena   A friend of mine parents with a playful touch, and she does so, in part, by offering her kids a Yes Day! Read below and watch above for the details. This may inspire you to say No a little less and Yes a whole lot more! Here are the wise words of Juliette Woods: Today at our house was “Yes Day!” It’s a day once a year when I say Yes to everything my children ask for. (There are a few ground rules around legality, safety, cost, etc.) They get my full attention, there is always laughter and play, and extra snuggles; […]