In response, she wrote the following that I'd like to share with you:
A KID IS A KID, OF COURSE, OF COURSE
By: CeeJae Cooper
“Don’t do that!”
“Just grow up.”
“Act your age.”
“My three year old acts better than that!”
Have you heard these statements or maybe even said them yourself? So often in life we speak before we think. This applies to not only each other as adults, but especially to adults talking to children. Do these statements have an impact on children? What do you think happens to their self esteem as they process these words? Does the tone you use change the meaning of the spoken word? Words may not always “hurt” but the tone of those words often cause a child to react in a negative way.
Let’s take a step back in time for a moment. Close your eyes and think back to when you were a young child. Imagine what your playtime was like. What about time spent with family and friends? Do you remember playing in the yard? Going on family vacations? Summer fun in the sun?
I realize that not all memories are pleasant ones, but let’s focus on the positive, for now. Can you see yourself smiling and laughing when you were young and “innocent”? Now put your own child or children in your mind. What do you see? Do you see them laughing and having a good time? Enjoying life and all it has to offer? Or, do you see them in some other way?
I ask these things to bring up one important question for you to think about…. Is your kid getting the benefits of being a kid?
Let’s talk about what it means to be a kid and the importance of this stage in life. Being a kid means learning the way of the world. Often we think of providing a loving home, nutritious food, and a safe environment for children. However, do you think about providing age appropriate play time for your child? As a kid, learning through play is as important as home and health. It promotes healthy brain activity which helps to develop their imagination, physical, cognitive, and even their emotional strengths which in turn aids in setting the path for their future as adults.
With social distancing becoming the new “norm” for citizens, it’s important to incorporate these learning practices with your children while still allowing them the freedom to be kids. Just because they may need to stay 6-feet away from their friends doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have friends to play with. Building friendships and social skills is all part of the learning process. So how do we cope with these issues in this day and age? Each family has their own methods and it is not my place to tell you how to follow the guidelines. That’s your own decision. However, the importance of reminding children to be a “kid” and have fun with life, is still a major factor to consider.
Have you ever met someone who had to “grow up” before their time? Maybe that person is you or a loved one. Do you ever think about how life would be different “if only”? “If only” I (they) could have been a kid. “If only” I (they) didn’t have to take care of the family. “If only” I (they) would have been able to ride a bike all day, play outside, build a sand castle. The list of “if only” could go on and on. While I don’t want you to dwell on the woulda, shoulda, coulda of the past, I do want you to think about what you want for your child. Do you want them to enjoy life to the fullest? Or, do you want them to be a grownup too early in life?
These are things to ponder on as your child goes through each stage of life. And something I’d like you to consider…. You are never too old to “act” like a kid. Enjoy these growing years with your children, for they become young adults all too soon.
Here are few suggestions that kids/families can do to encourage play time while observing social distancing:
- Play front yard BINGO. Gather the neighbor kids into their own front (or back) yard. Have them each get a BINGO card. There are several websites that allow you to create your own themed cards. Email them out to the neighbors and have them print their own card. Then you can use something like Zoom to video chat letting one person be the “caller”. This could be done outside or you could do this from inside as well. Get creative.
- Driveway Dance Party. Gather in the driveways and bust out the moves. Dance! Dance! Dance!
- Looking Glass Tic-Tac-Toe - Use painter’s tape to mark off a Tic-Tac-Toe board on a window or sliding glass door. One person stays inside and the “friend” stays outside. Use dry erase markers, window clings, shaving cream, etc. to play a new version of an old favorite.
- Chalk Stories - Pick your “6-foot” sidewalk space and divide it off between your friends. Each of you create a part of a story making it all come together when it’s finished. The story can be something simple or complex, depending on the age of the children.
- What’s in My Yard Scavenger Hunt - Have children find unique things from your yard and take pictures of them (or they can just write down the objects). Then they can share the pictures/notes with their friends from across the driveway and see who has the same items and who has something different. Encourage them to discuss these items with the other kids.
- Share-A-Book - Have the children pick their favorite book/story and read it to their friends. You can do this while keeping the social distancing space still intact. Each child could read a book, if they’d like. Then you could encourage the kids to get creative with everyday art objects. Draw a pic of their favorite part of the book or anything related to the book.
There are so many things that could be done while keeping children healthy and safe yet still allowing them to be kids, as they are meant to be.