ParentMap July 2021 Issue

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The July Play List Your 2020 summer do-over list awaits inside — whaddya say we do it all?


It’s a Playground Roundup! 4 new destination playgrounds that park hoppers really must visit this summer

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SEATTLE CHILDREN’S Good Growing Newsletter P. 15

The State of Play Why our kids need the freedom to play — now more than ever 10/








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AGES 3-18




PARENTMAP.COM In Every Issue Dear Reader Play List

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Local Resources Summer Fun Schools + Preschools





The State of Play Why our kids need the freedom to play — now more than ever

Your Backyard: The Ultimate Summer Playground Create a play paradise with cool kits, sports equipment, games and more



Find stellar backyard-makeover ideas to turn your yard into the ultimate summer playground.

Family Fun


The Eli’s Park Project 14 A local mom gathers community support for universally accessible park EDUCATION

The Benefits of Child-Directed Play Foster social development and focus — while bonding with your child

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Science Says You Should Give Child-Led Parenting a Try 28 Four easy ways to be an engaged parent without “helicoptering”


The July Play List 20 Our 2020 summer do-over starts … now — let’s do it all! It’s a Playground Roundup! 24 4 new destination playgrounds that park hoppers really must visit this summer


Good Growing newsletter




Meet Vivian Song Maritz 31 Mother of four makes a bid for Seattle Public Schools board

Photo by Kate Missine

Break out of your playground rut and visit these awesome new destination playgrounds that deliver on inclusive and adventurous play.

24 Photo by Natasha Dillinger

Photo by Devon Hammer

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Play’s the thing

JULY 2021, VOL. 18, NO. 7


Alayne Sulkin EDITORIAL

Each year we celebrate arguably the most playful month of the year within the pages of our July issue. Here in the Pacific Northwest, June can be a bit cool and standoffish, weather-wise, and August too hot, but the bonny days of July are perfect for packing in as much family playtime as possible. And given we’re only now slowly emerging from pandemic hibernation, it’s all the more important that we make the most of this summer — we really missed out on so much last year. So, let the wild-rumpus summer do-over start! We take a look at “the state of play” in Washington in this month’s feature (p. 10). A lack of physical activity in our kids was a major problem even before the pandemic, which only served to dramatically exacerbate the degree of play deprivation. What’s more, many experts suggest that we’re going about play all wrong, that kids’ play today is too regimented, too routine, too “safe.” What our children really need? The opportunity to take risks in play, and there are plenty of ways that parents can support and encourage their kids’ development through adventurous play. That’s where our Out + About feature comes in (p. 24)! We’ve rounded up some of the most jaw-dropping, challenging new playgrounds that have debuted so far in 2021. You’ll read about a playground that is a real-life game of Chutes and Ladders; a no-barriers playground featuring state-of-the-art structures that will thrill kids of all abilities; and a “risky” playground that you really have to see to believe, among others. These unique destination playgrounds will have your popeyed park hoppers exclaiming with wonder and excitement, “What is this place?” But sometimes the best playground is the one closest to home. That’s why we’ve packed some great, inexpensive ideas for transforming your backyard into a kid’s paradise — from cool kits, obstacle courses, sports equipment, games, messy experiments and more — so you can continuously reimagine your playing space all summer long (p. 6). This month’s Play List (p. 20) is remarkable not only for all the amazing opps on offer to get out and frolic as a family, but because none of them are virtual. Sheesh, talk about a word I’d love to take out back of the barn to the word-chipper: virtual. We’ve got farm fun, outdoor entertainments, a superhero challenge course, a squirrelly scavenger hunt and other animal experiences, planes, trains and automobiles, and so much more. Pace yourselves, people, and remember that we’re not quite out of these pandemic woods just yet, so be the pro in protocols and keep yourselves and others safe as you venture out.

What is your favorite memory of summer play as a kid?


My sibs and I burying our dad in the sand on the shore of Lake Michigan

DIGITAL CONTENT PRODUCTION COORDINATOR Nicole Persun OUT + ABOUT EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Devon Hammer COPY EDITOR Sunny Parsons CONTRIBUTORS Gemma Alexander, Heidi Borst, Natasha Dillinger, Devon Hammer, Kate Missine, Sanya Pelini, Ph.D., Nicole Persun, Alayne Sulkin

Growing up on Lake Tapps, I spent all day, every day, on the water!



Water balloon and water gun fights!


My sister and I building forts in the woods




Getting up in the morning, putting on my swimsuit and keeping it on until bedtime, so continually ready for anything with water




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Calendar submissions


Ready … set … play!


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Summer Fun

Children’s Museum On Olympia’s East Bay Waterfront


Your Backyard:

The Ultimate Summer Playground

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Transform your backyard into a kid’s paradise with cool kits, obstacle courses, sports equipment, games and more

! bit i h Ex

By Nicole Persun

Photo from El Dorado Boulders

In between family getaways and super-cool camps, kids are bound to spend a lot of their long summer days at home, yet kiddos need look no farther than the backyard for boundless opportunities for fun! We’ve compiled a list of stellar backyard-makeover ideas to turn your yard into the ultimate summer playground. With activities ranging from Ninja Warrior courses to clever science experiments, your kids will spend the whole summer right where they should: outside.

Photos Ph t ttaken k pre CCovid-19 id 19

Big Adventures Ne w ! Bouldering on the Beach Exhibit Sluicing for Treasure • Digging for Dinos Rock wall • Scribble Stones • Visiting Artists Sock Skating • Sailboat Regatta • Solar Days Zip into fun


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All you need is a couple of trees to turn your backyard into an epic American Ninja Warrior NinjaLine course. Active and adventurous kids will get a kick out of swinging from handle to handle. Need more speed? Pair the course with a zip line!

Croquet that’s A-okay Traditional croquet features rock-hard balls that are just destined to crash through a window or cause a gnarly bruise if the kids are unsupervised. That’s why


CHILDREN’S STORE & PLAY SPACE TO EXPLORE THE WORLD Come explore, enjoy, and learn from the great big world of wonder we live in.


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Current COVID19 safety requirements apply


> Ride the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad > Explore exhibits, train cars and railroad equipment at the historic Snoqualmie Depot > See and learn about railroad history and trains of all sizes at the Train Shed Exhibit Hall > Walk the Centennial Trail

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we recommend a kick croquet set! Featuring giant wickets and soft, cloth-covered balls, this version of the game is player-friendly for a range of ages. Check it out in our collection of awesome backyard game options at

Sprinkled with fun It’s not summer without a sprint through the sprinkler on a sweltering day. Make sure your house has the best sprinkler in town — one of our favorites is a cool inflatable rainbow sprinkler. With multiple crisscrossing jets, it’s sure to keep the kids busy (and cool) for hours.

Climb high Kids who love to climb trees will get a thrill from reaching new heights with tree-friendly toeholds. The setup is simple, but we recommend a helmet and some supervision if you plan to place the toeholds high up the tree’s trunk. backyard-toys

Backyard band Fancy kits and gadgets are fun, but sometimes all a kid needs are some old pots and pans to bang on. The PreK + K Sharing blog suggests creating a backyard “music wall” using improvised instruments to keep little kiddos jamming in musical bliss all summer long.

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Dig for treasure Have a little paleontologist at home? It doesn’t take long to plant a sandbox with toy dinosaurs and other discoveries. This “buried treasure” activity is great for parties and solo playtime alike. Check out our full list for more inexpensive and fun backyard game inspirations at

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Snack time! Take time in between sprinkler runs and Ninja Warrior training to fuel up with a summer classic: doughnut on a string. If multiple kids are playing, make it a race to see who can finish their doughnut first — but no hands allowed! Have a pack of wet wipes close by for the sticky, frosting-coated aftermath.

Summer science Who says summer can’t include a little learning, too? We’ve rounded up a whole list of backyard science experiments that are perfect for piquing curiosity and making glorious messes. Our favorites? A squirt gun volcano experiment (yes, seriously) and the classic humongous bubbles.

No-fuss family camping Want the tent, the s’mores and the family bonding without all of the fuss of actually camping? We’ve compiled a list of essential tips for hosting the very best backyard camping trip, from cozy sleeping arrangements to authentic camp dinners — and even an outdoor movie.

Nicole Persun is an award-winning novelist, a writing instructor and the digital content production coordinator at ParentMap.

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The Epidemic of

Play Deprivation By Heidi Borst Physical activity has far-reaching benefits to our kids’ physical and mental health, from decreasing their risk of anxiety and depression to lowering their odds of developing type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, obesity and other ailments. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children ages 6–17 need at least

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an hour of moderate to vigorous exercise each day. The problem? Today’s kids aren’t even coming close to meeting this minimum requirement. (In 2017, fewer than one-quarter of kids were getting the CDC’s recommended amount of physical activity.) A lack of physical activity was a major

Why our kids need the freedom to play — now more than ever

problem even before the pandemic, and play deprivation has increased dramatically during the past year. What’s more, experts say we’re going about play all wrong: Kids’ play today is too regimented, too structured, too routine. What our kids really need is the opportunity to take risks in play — it’s how they grow. While the problem of

insufficient physical activity may not have an overnight solution, there’s plenty that parents can do to support and encourage their kids’ development through play.

The ‘State of Play’ report for Seattle–King County Fewer than 19 percent of King County’s kids were getting the CDC-recommended amount of physical activity before the pandemic, according to a 2019 report published by the University of Washington’s Center for Leadership in Athletics in partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program. Now that number is likely in the single digits, or close to 10 percent, estimates Julie McCleery, Ph.D., the director of research-practice partnerships and a research associate and lecturer at the University of Washington. McCleery, who is part of a local coalition to remove roadblocks to physical inactivity for King County children, says the pandemic has exacerbated existing inequities among the area’s youth.

healthy and happy childhood,” says Gill.

‘Risk’ factor: The way kids play is important, too As the world continues to slowly open back up, it’s tempting to throw our kids into all the scheduled sports and activities we can to make up for lost time, but doing so limits their time to engage in free play. “Risky play,” a concept that’s gaining momentum worldwide, is vital, too, and though the term may trigger alarm bells for parents, it’s not as scary as it sounds. “Kids describe risky play as a ‘tickles in my tummy’ scary/funny feeling,” says Mariana Brussoni, Ph.D., an associate professor

especially when and where our kids’ safety is involved, but an element of unpredictability is the point of risky play, says Brussoni. “Risk is a critical and necessary feature of play; it’s embedded in our world everywhere, and experiencing risk through play helps kids [learn to] manage risks in other situations. They’re pushing themselves past their previous limit to see how far they can go.” “It’s fun, but it’s also challenging, and it also could be scary. Basically, it’s children’s play that makes adults nervous,” says Rusty Keeler, a playscape designer and author of “Adventures in Risky Play: What Is Your Yes?” Kids naturally push limits, but

To be clear, the issue of play deprivation isn’t just a local one. “Play and physical activity are not seen as critical parts of youth development [in America]. We, as a society in general, don’t understand or value the importance of play enough to set it as a priority in our policies and in our funding,” says McCleery. Coming out of the pandemic, kids need the opportunity for free play and physical activity to heal from the trauma they experienced and to propel their physical and mental resilience, she says. During lockdown, we’ve seen an accelerated version of what’s been going on in kids’ lives over the past 30–40 years: a gradual shrinking of time and space for freedom and play, says Tim Gill, author of “Urban Playground: How Child-Friendly Planning and Design Can Save Cities.” “I hope we’ll have learned that kids really hunger for some freedom, some autonomy and, particularly, for the chance to play with their friends. When schools were closed, kids were under house arrest, and the consequences of that have been brought home to us. Free play is a vital ingredient of a

at the University of British Columbia, an investigator at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute and an academic research scientist at the British Columbia Injury Research and Prevention Unit. Brussoni defines risky play as “thrilling or exciting forms of play where children engage with uncertainty, and there’s a chance of physical injury.” Sure, uncertainty makes us uncomfortable,

parents often hold them back out of fear they’ll get hurt. “We’ve reached a point as a society where we have so much fear, we’re almost stopping children from being children. Fear has limited children’s play and range so much,” says Keeler.

Letting go of fear gives kids room to grow Rushing in to intervene at the first sign of danger robs kids of the chance to

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develop an inner guidance system of their own, one that will keep them safe for the rest of their life, says Keeler. When we are solely focused on all the ways our child might get hurt (maybe they’ll fall, scrape their knee or bump their head), we lose sight of all of the positive outcomes, he says. Assess the risks versus the benefits before you decide that an activity is off-limits. “It’s up to the adults to take an inventory of when they say yes and when they say no. You start to think, maybe I could say ‘yes’ a little more, and then provide opportunities for free play. If there’s a pile of loose lumber, you might think, yeah, they could bump themselves, but they could also build an obstacle course. They’re being creative. They’re using construction skills. They’re learning math skills,” he says.

If you find yourself struggling to let go of control, Keeler says to take a deep breath and then think about what you want for your child. Look beyond your fear to imagine the kind of person you want them to become: Independence, resilience and autonomy only blossom when we give kids the freedom to make choices and take chances of their own accord. Still, we can’t flip a switch from an overprotective to a carefree parenting style, so remember that you’re on a journey, Brussoni says. “You’re not going to go from hovering over your child to letting them walk to school on their own from one day to the next. You have to start with steps that feel manageable. Identify something that you can do today,” she says. The next time anxiety overcomes you, try counting to 17, suggests Brussoni. Counting gives you an opportunity to reflect on

Spare Me ‘The Talk’!

Comprehensive and age-appropriate information for tweens and their grown-ups about sex, substances, cyberbullying, consent, dating and growing up. Plus, over 40 special notes about hygiene, social networking, flirting and dozens of other topics you never thought you needed to know about (but you do!). 1 2 / PA R E N T M A P. C O M 0721_jo_langford_1-4.indd 1

6/3/21 11:53 AM

The impressive Neptun XXL climbing pyramid is the centerpiece of Sunset Neighborhood Park’s new “risky” playground in Renton (p. 27). Photo by Kate Missine

whether you really need to step in — if you don’t, what’s the worst thing that might happen? “Is it a question of a limb being lost, or might they just fall down and scrape their knee?” she says.

Time, space and freedom Kids need the freedom to learn from their own experiences and mistakes, Gill says. “Every parent wants their child to grow up to be capable, confident, independent, responsible and resilient. We help move them towards that goal by opening up as

much space and time as we can to be in a stimulating environment that sparks play … ideally with other kids around,” he says. Learn to use your peripheral vision, being mindful of what your kids are doing without being poised to leap in at the first sign of a problem, he says. Kids engage best in play spaces where they can take ownership. “The traditional playground equipment structure gets old after a while, especially if it’s in your backyard — you visited it, you’ve been there and you can do those five or six things that it was designed to do,” says Keeler. When the choice of where to play is left up to them, “kids choose what we call ‘leftover spaces,’ like ditches, ravines, back alleys and corners of parking lots, [where] adults aren’t going to chase them away,” says Brussoni. While we can’t control what’s available at our local playground, we can be open-minded about what qualifies as an appropriate space for play. When in doubt, ask your kiddo. The freedom our kids need to thrive is only possible when our parental attitude shifts away from fear. “Fear and uncertainty are just part of life — they’re everywhere, especially during the pandemic. Our job as adults is to try to manage the real hazards that would lead to really serious injuries [such as broken glass or a live electrical wire], so kids are able to figure out for themselves the kinds of risks they want to engage in” says Brussoni.

How to create a fun free-play environment Everything is predetermined in today’s playgrounds, and that’s a problem, says Susan G. Solomon, Ph.D., author of “The Science of Play: How to Build Playgrounds That Enhance Children’s Development.” Since she wrote the book in 2014, Solomon says there’s been little forward movement to adapt children’s playgrounds into spaces that incorporate an element of risk. “I think for kids really to succeed, there has to be exploration. There has to be a sense

of the unknown. There has to be a sense of danger,” she says. To incorporate risky elements into your own backyard, Solomon recommends providing kids with things to build with and places to hide. Repurpose anything you might consider “junk” — your kids will probably love playing with it. With loose parts and natural materials at hand, such as “sand, mud, sticks, rocks, crates, boxes and tarps,” kids can use their imagination to shape their environment, says Brussoni. “Even when you have a play space you think is not so great, adding some loose parts to it really makes it so much better. [Kids] can build things or they can tear things down — it’s up to them,” she says. Keeler’s own backyard is filled with “tons of loose parts” (tires, boards, logs, old frying pans, buckets, shovels and spoons) that his 5-year-old and 9-year-old can play

with. “It might seem like it’s riskier, and it may look a little more like a junkyard, but it really gives them the opportunity to have power over their own environment, and that makes them resilient and confident. Maybe they do have more of an opportunity to get scratched or bumped or bruised, but they’re also given the opportunity have fun and reach their full potential,” he says. When we allow our kids to explore and test the waters on their own, we help them on their journey of developing into confident, capable individuals. On the flip side, hovering over our kids with constant reminders to “be careful” or “watch out” limits their growth. When it comes to play, the best thing we can do for our kids is to loosen the reins and let them take control.

Heidi Borst is an active mom, journalist and nutrition coach with a strong affinity for nature, sarcasm and extra sleep.

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Community The Eli’s Park Project A local mom gathers community support for universally accessible park space By Gemma Alexander

Every mom is on the hunt for the perfect playground. But some moms have a harder time than others in finding their ideal outdoor play area. Whereas many parents would simply bemoan the lack of accessible playgrounds and inclusive community spaces, local mom Paige Reischl decided to do something about it. “It really started when my third son, Eli, was born, and it just highlighted how many people were missing from our community spaces. Eli really inspired me to think harder about what I’m doing in my own life to ensure people are included better,” says Reischl.

Eli’s Park: A community project

When Eli was 3, Reischl got the idea to convert Burke-Gilman Playground Park (located at 5201 Sand Point Way N.E. in Seattle) into a universally accessible park. Many people driving by it today are unaware that the playground is a city park. “Honestly, a little bit selfishly, I think I came to this idea because I wanted the world to be more inclusive for Eli,” says Reischl. The Reischels lost Eli before his fourth birthday, but his passing has only strengthened his mom’s commitment to make the world a more inclusive place. In the four years she’s been working on the Eli’s Park Project, Reischl has gathered input and assistance from more than

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Site plan by Landscape Architects at Site Workshop

800 community members through direct communications, public design workshops and interest group outreach. The core team includes Eli’s physical therapist, landscape architects, a teen advisory team, disability advocates and employees of the Seattle Parks and Recreation department, including current parks superintendent, Jesús Aguirre. What Reischl and the parks department have heard from the community is that people miss out on outdoor spaces because of barriers that are both physical and emotional in nature. Public spaces can feel unsafe, unwelcoming or simply unappealing. Eli’s Park is being designed to be fully accessible and entirely welcoming to everyone while maintaining the natural elements that make the current space beautiful. Emphasizing both nature and art in the park’s design will make the space inviting. Several local artists have been brought in to create works for the park. Eli’s Park is part of a growing movement to provide more inclusive public spaces. There are more sensory playgrounds and accessible play spaces in the region now than even a few years ago, and Reischl says that each of them, such as Seattle Children’s

Eli and his brothers. Photo by Kristin Zwiers

PlayGarden and the new Forest Park Playground, has its own strengths.

The way forward

After four years of community building and volunteer work, Eli’s Park has reached the design-development stage, with 80 percent of the $5 million needed to complete the project having been raised. If the project is fully funded by the end of 2021, the team can break ground next spring and have the park ready to welcome visitors in early fall of 2022. Anyone interested in following the progress of (or donating to) The Eli’s Park Project can join the mailing list on the website ( and check in on the project’s status on Instagram or Facebook.

Gemma Alexander focuses on the intersection of parenting and the arts. She blogs at and tweets @gemmadeetweet.

A Seattle Children’s Publication | Summer 2021

Helping Your Child Prepare for Vaccine Shots The pandemic has caused such a disruption in our daily lives and routines, many families have fallen behind on health-related tasks. If you haven’t already done so, be sure your child gets caught up on their medical and dental checkups and bring them up to date with their vaccines. Vaccines prevent diseases that can make children very sick and cause lifelong disabilities — and even death. These tips will help you and your child feel calm and confident before, during and after any vaccine shot. Babies. Breastfeeding mothers can nurse their baby during and after the vaccine. If breastfeeding is not an option, ask about giving oral sucrose during and after the shot. Cradle and talk to your baby, and perhaps

distract them with a favorite toy. After the vaccine, provide lots of comforting hugs and soothing words. Toddlers and Preschoolers. Before the day of the shot, ask about prepping with a skin-

Make Sure Bike, Scooter and Skateboard Helmets Fit Use this easy, three-point check to test for a proper helmet fit. 1. Eyes Helmet sits level on your child’s head and rests low on the forehead, one to two finger widths above the eyebrows. A helmet pushed up too high will not protect the face or head well in a fall or crash. 2. Ears The straps are even, form a ‘Y’ under each earlobe, and lay flat against the head.

3. Mouth The buckled chin strap is loose enough so that your child can breathe. There should be enough room so you can insert a finger between the buckle and chin. It should be tight enough that if your child opens their mouth, you can see the helmet pull down on top. to learn more:


numbing cream. Just before the injection is given, tell your child they may feel a pinch that will be over quickly. Have them turn their head away from the needle, then distract them with a toy or photo. For kids ages 4 and up, teach them to ‘blow away’ the pain: have them take a long, deep breath, then blow out gently and evenly — as though blowing soap bubbles. After the shot, give plenty of praise and comfort. School-Age Kids, Tweens and Teens. Before the day of the shot, ask about prepping with a skin-numbing cream. Calmly tell your child what’s going to happen; don’t tell them it won’t hurt or ask them not to cry. Suggest that they turn their head away from the needle, and offer other choices if possible, such as where they’d like to sit and which arm they prefer to get the injection in. Praise them for their successes, such as staying still and being cooperative. To prevent fainting (not unusual for tweens and teens after a shot), have them sit or lie down for 15 minutes afterwards. The Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is available for kids ages 12 and older. And by the time you read this, a vaccine may be offered (or available soon) for children younger than 12. It’s safe to get the COVID vaccine at the same time as other vaccines, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. If you have questions about any vaccine, be sure to ask your child’s healthcare provider. to learn more:

Visit before-during-after-shots.html.

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep? Sleep is crucial for the health and development of all kids, from babies to teens. Use these guidelines to know how much sleep children need at different stages. Infants ages 4 to 12 months: 12 to 16 hours, including naps. Toddlers ages 1 to 2 years: 11 to 14 hours, including naps. Preschoolers ages 3 to 5 years: 10 to 13 hours, including naps.

Gradeschoolers ages 6 to 12 years: 9 to 12 hours. Teens ages 13 to 18: 8 to 10 hours. Children who get enough sleep have healthier immune systems, plus better school performance, memory, behavior and overall mental health. to learn more:


Dealing with Racial Bias The effects of racism are so damaging to individuals and our entire society, it is considered a public-health crisis. As parents, we must be aware of racial bias from the day our children are born. The American Academy of Pediatrics tells us that babies can notice race-based differences as early as 6 months. By ages 2 to 4, children can internalize or absorb racial biases simply by soaking in the actions and attitudes that surround them. And by age 12, kids can become set in their beliefs. This means that we have roughly a decade to shape a child’s learning process in a way that reduces racial bias and improves cultural

understanding. Raising kids who are free of racial bias requires keen awareness, daily effort and thoughtful conversations. It starts with facing our own biases and taking steps to honor and celebrate differences among people. Since our children closely observe our actions and learn from them, it’s important that they see us interact with others in a genuinely kind and inclusive way. to learn more:

Visit emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/ Talking-to-Children-About-Racial-Bias.aspx.

Prevent Drownings with Constant Supervision For children ages 1 to 4, drowning is the leading cause of unintentional death, and most of these drownings happen in private swimming pools and spas. It’s understood that children must be closely supervised anytime they’re in the water. But tragically, many drownings happen when a child enters the water without being seen or heard. In a typical scenario, a child wanders away from adult supervision unnoticed and enters or falls into a deserted pool or spa. So, it’s essential that pool and spa areas are fully fenced and that gates are always locked — and ideally alarmed — to keep children out. Even with these safeguards in place, constant supervision is still needed whenever there’s a pool or spa nearby; this might be at the home of friends or family, at a

hotel or at a vacation rental. Especially in group settings, at least one adult should stick with a child to ensure they don’t slip outside or wander off. Share this duty with other adults and be sure there’s a clear hand-off of duties from one guardian to the next. For large gatherings where kids will be in or near

water, adults can take turns being the ‘water watcher.’ Pools and spas are not the only hazards, of course: be vigilant when you are at a picnic area or park or campsite that has a beach, lake, pond, river or stream nearby. ‘Layers of protection’ are the surest way to prevent drownings. These essential ‘layers’ include constant adult supervision, teaching children to swim at an early age, ensuring that life jackets are worn in or near the water, and being trained in CPR in case life-saving skills are needed. to learn more:


Kid Bits

Childhood Tics

Tummy Time

Saying Goodbye to the Pacifier

Tics are unintentional movements or sounds that are sudden, brief and repetitive. They commonly include rapid eye-blinking, facial grimaces, head movement, sniffing and throat-clearing. Childhood tics are common: up to 20% of kids may develop them. Typically, tics become apparent at age 6 or 7 and peak around ages 10 to 12. For most kids, these movements and sounds are just a nuisance, and the child simply outgrows the tics. In general, if a tic isn’t bothering your child, don’t let it bother you — and don’t draw attention to it. If you are concerned, you can ask your child’s doctor to evaluate it. You might want to capture the tic on video to show your doctor, since it might not occur during the visit.

When infants play on their tummies, it’s a chance for them to develop their motor skills, their vision and their senses. It also strengthens their muscles, especially their neck muscles, and helps prepare them for sliding, scooting and crawling. Plus, this activity helps prevent a flat spot from forming on the back of their head. Tummy time must always be supervised by a parent or caregiver. Since it’s an active time, babies need to be fully alert, with an adult nearby to interact and encourage them. And remember that for sleeping, babies must always be placed on their backs in their own sleep space. Cribs need a firm mattress with a tight fitted sheet — and no blankets, bumpers or soft toys.

to learn more:

Babies and toddlers often stop using pacifiers on their own. If they don’t, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that parents begin weaning a child from a pacifier before age 24 months, to avoid long-term oral problems. Start by limiting pacifier use to naptime, before bed and for stressful moments. You might also try a new comfort item, like a soft blanket with a silky edge. Always keep it positive: praise and reward your child for not using the pacifier. Some families celebrate saying goodbye to ‘binky’ forever with a special ceremony, party or gift. If pacifier use continues past age 3, the AAPD recommends a dental evaluation to prevent potential long-term problems.


to learn more:



to learn more:



Visit and search ‘pacifier.’

Quick Tip Create a system to check the back seat for your baby or toddler every time you get out of your car. Never leave a young child alone in a car.

Regional Clinic Locations

Online Resources

• Bellevue • Everett • Federal Way

Visit for the following: • Child Health Advice • my Good Growing email newsletter • Doctor Finder • On The Pulse and Autism blogs • Medical condition information • Health & safety information • Ways to help Seattle Children’s • Research Institute information

• Olympia • Tri-Cities • Wenatchee

Primary Care Clinic • Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic

Main Hospital Numbers 206-987-2000 866-987-2000 (Toll-free)

Heather Cooper is the Editor of Good Growing, which is produced four times a year by the Marketing Communications Department of Seattle Children’s. You can find Good Growing in the January, April, July and October issues of ParentMap and on our website For permission to reprint articles for noncommercial purposes or to receive Good Growing in an alternate format, call 206-987-5323. The inclusion of any resource or website does not imply endorsement. Your child’s needs are unique. Before you act or rely upon information, please talk with your child’s healthcare provider. © 2021 Seattle Children’s, Seattle, Washington.

Classes and Events As the COVID-19 situation changes, we continue to adjust or postpone our classes and events to follow publichealth recommendations. We now offer some classes online while some are on pause. Please check our website for the latest information. Scholarships are available. If you would like to ask about a scholarship, use the contact information for the class you’re interested in to connect with the registrar. PARENTING CLASSES Autism 101


This free 90-minute lecture is designed to provide information and support to parents and families of children recently diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. A portion of each session is dedicated to answering questions from the attendees.

For youth, ages 11 to 14. Students learn about responsible babysitting, basic child development, infant and child care, safety, handling emergencies, age-appropriate toys, business tips and parent expectations.

View dates, sign up for live streaming or view a past lecture at Email if you have questions.

Autism 200 Series Autism 200 is a series of free 90-minute classes for parents and caregivers of children with autism who wish to better understand autism spectrum disorder. Each class features a different topic. Classes are on pause, but you can view past Autism 200 lectures at autism200. Email Autism200@seattlechildrens. org if you have questions.

Babysafe Babysafe is a 4-hour class for new and expectant parents and others who care for babies. Topics include infant development, baby safety, injury prevention and care of common injuries for infants from birth through 12 months of age. Infant CPR is demonstrated and practiced, but this is not a certification class. This class is currently available virtually via Zoom. The fee is $85 and each registration is good for two people from the same family. Learn more, view dates and register at classes or call 206-789-2306 if you have questions.

Youth Mental Health First Aid This free class is for adults who regularly interact with adolescents ages 12 to 18. Youth Mental Health First Aid will improve your knowledge of mental health and substance use problems and will teach you how to connect youth with care when needed. Youth Mental Health First Aid is now available as a two-part virtual series. The series includes a self-guided course and a live instructor-led course. The date you register for is the date of the live instructor-led course. Learn more, view dates and register at or call 206-987-9878 if you have questions.

This is currently a two-part class, with sessions taking place via Zoom on two consecutive weekend dates. Each session is two hours long. The fee is $50. Learn more, view dates and register at or call 206-987-9878 if you have questions.

Body Talk: Building Body Wisdom For all preteens, ages 9 to 12 and a grownup. This is no ordinary class on nutrition and fitness. Body Talk is about learning new tools together that help us understand how our bodies and minds work as we eat and move. Topics include how to build a healthy relationship with food and trust yourself as an eater, and how to build a healthy relationship with exercise and trust yourself as a mover. This class is offered as a two-part online workshop series. The fee is $45. Learn more, view dates and register at classes or call 206-789-2306 if you have questions.

CPR and First Aid for Babysitters For youth, ages 11 to 15. Topics include pediatric CPR, treatment for choking, and first-aid skills. Students receive an American Heart Association Heartsaver Pediatric First Aid, CPR, AED completion card, which is valid for two years. This class is offered as a two-part series. The series includes a virtual session as well as a short in-person skills check. The fee is $75. Learn more, view dates and register at classes or call 206-987-9878 if you have questions.

The Chat The Chat is a new online workshop series on puberty and sex that reflects the content from the in-person classes, For Boys and For Girls. Offered via Zoom, each 45-minute workshop is for preteens 10 to 12 years old, plus a parent or trusted adult. You may take any individual workshop or all five. If you register for all five events, we recommend starting with BO, Pimples and Hair — Oh My! and ending with Being Connected: Sex, Love and Everything In Between. While families can choose to attend any combination of workshops, the information in earlier sessions provides a foundation for understanding later sessions. The fee is $25 per workshop or the series of five for $100. Learn more, view dates and register at or call 206-789-2306 if you have questions. See a trailer for The Chat at

EVENTS Free Car-Seat Checks by Appointment Only WHEN: Saturday, Aug. 21 and Saturday, Oct. 23 WHERE: Seattle Children’s REGISTER: Register for an appointment and come learn how to safely secure your child in the car. Child passenger safety experts will check your child in a car seat, booster seat or the seat belt and answer any questions you may have. Car-seat checks will follow COVID-19 safety protocols.

Free Virtual Car-Seat Checks King County Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians are offering free virtual car-seat check appointments via video-chat platforms. For more information, email Laura Miccile at laura.miccile@ or call 206-477-8664. South County Fire and Safe Kids Snohomish County are offering free virtual car-seat classes. Registration is required. Visit education/child-passenger-safety.


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an independent school in Lynnwood, WA (206) 395-8209 • • Serving Edmonds, Burien, Georgetown/SODO and West Seattle

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July Play List Our summer do-over starts … now! By Devon Hammer

Check out many more happenings online at

Wow, this summer is shaping up to be a whole lot more entertaining for families than last year [understatement]. Many of the classic Seattlearea events we know and love are back in operation, and we are more appreciative of them than ever. Think of outdoor concerts, fave summer festivals, swimming at outdoor pools and more — let’s do it all!

1. Yes, many movie theaters

are open and, yes, $1 summer movies are back at Regal Theatres. Check online for participating Puget Sound–area Regal locations and the schedule of movies. Tuesday–Wednesday through Sept. 8.


Go on a squirrelly scavenger hunt through Auburn parks to find hidden summer squirrels. Keep track of where you locate the squirrel images and submit your scorecard by July 11 for a chance to win prizes!

July 1–11. Check online for a list of parks and trails where the squirrels are hiding. Free.

3. What’s a Fourth of July

celebration without some fireworks? The City of Lacey has come up with a COVIDsafe version of its traditional fireworks show. Fireworks will be set off at the Chinook Middle School fields; spectators are invited to drive to surrounding schools and parking lots to enjoy the show from their cars. Saturday, July 3, fireworks start

at 10 p.m. Free.


Find a spot at a waterfront park on Commencement Bay in Tacoma to watch the Freedom Fair Air Show. While the traditional Freedom Fair isn’t happening this year, we can still enjoy the patriotic air show spectacle. Saturday–Sunday, July 3–4, 1:30 p.m. Free.


What could be more like summer than taking in an

Editor’s note: Please remember to wear a mask when coming within 6 feet of anyone outside of your immediate household and follow all advisories related to safe recreating outdoors (

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Highlighted Events for July

July 3–4



July 9–11, 16–18



July 17



Freedom Fair Air Show

Day Out With Thomas

Tastes of the Farm

Commencement Bay, Tacoma

Northwest Railway Museum, Snoqualmie

Oxbow Farm and Conservation Center, Carnation

outdoor concert from a grassy lawn on a warm evening? Watch the kids twirl the night away at Concerts on the Green on the Issaquah Community Center lawn. Tuesdays, July 6– Aug. 24, 7 p.m. Free.


Get tickets to meet the “real” Thomas the Tank Engine at the Northwest Railway Museum in Snoqualmie. Go for a ride in a train car pulled by Thomas, picking up party favors and playing games at stops along the way. Friday–Sunday, July 9–11 and 16–18; $24–$28; ages 1 and younger free.

7. Celebrate LGBTQ+ pride with

your favorite animals at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium ( or Northwest Trek Wildlife Park ( Animals will enjoy rainbowcolored enrichments while you go on a Pride-themed scavenger hunt. Saturday–Sunday, July 10–11. Book tickets in advance.

8. Pack a picnic and head to

Morrill Meadows Park in Kent for a midday, family-focused concert. Enjoy the summer sun while the kids dance on the lawn to some jammin’ kid-approved tunes. Wednesdays, July 7–Aug. 11, noon. Free.


Head to the Mary Olson Farm in Auburn for a glimpse into what family farm life was like in the late 1800s. Saturday–Sunday through Aug. 29, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Suggested donation of $2–$5 per person.


Partake in a modified version of Snohomish’s annual Kla Ha Ya Days summer fest, which includes five days of carnival fun at Harvey Field. Get dizzy on the rides, indulge in sweet treats and play carnival games. Wednesday–Sunday, July 14–18. Check online for pricing.

11. Get a taste of summer at

Oxbow Farm and Conservation Center’s Tastes of the Farm festival. Take a kids’ farm tour, explore the Living Playground, hike the trails and enjoy culinary activities. Saturday, July 17, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Free entry; some activities have a fee. Preregister.

12. Grab tickets to a unique

— and COVID-safe — outdoor theater performance of “Little Women” staged by Kitsap Forest Theater. Enjoy the performance surrounded by towering trees! Select weekends through Aug. 22, 2 p.m. $10–$18; ages 5 and younger free.

13. Put in a day of service

at the fantastic Magnuson Children’s Garden. Join a family-friendly stewardship work party on select Tuesdays and Saturdays through Aug. 14. Weed, mulch and help with

other maintenance projects. Best for ages 6 and older. Preregister.

14. The Maple Valley Kids’

Festival is back this year at Lake Wilderness Park. Join in the kid-themed fun and excitement at this beautiful lakeside park. Saturday, July 24, 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Free; some activities have a fee.


Calling all superheroes! Join Pierce County Parks & Recreation at Meridian Habitat Park’s great lawn to test your powers on a superhero-themed challenge course. Make a mask and meet a real superhero, too! Saturday, July 24, 10 a.m.–12:30 p.m. $10; preregister. Ages 5–10.

Devon Hammer is ParentMap’s Out + About editorial assistant and a mother of two.

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The Benefits of Child-Directed Play Child-directed play (CDP) is a special form of one-to-one play between parent and child in which the child directs and leads. CDP can be used with children ages 2–10, with slight adjustments for age or developmental level. Research shows that playing with your child in this way fosters self-confidence, social development and focus — all while bonding with your child.

How to ‘do’ CDP Look for a good time to join your child in play. Get down on the floor together and, within reason, move where your child moves. • Describe your child’s play. Channel your

best radio sports announcer voice to describe your exciting game. For example, you might say, “There goes the car over the bridge.” You don’t have to describe every detail and will want to focus your attention on appropriate child behaviors. • Imitate your child’s play activities. For example, if your child is building a tower with blocks, you might say, “Great idea. I’m going to build a tower, too!” • Repeat, with more detail, what your child has just said. For instance, if your child says, “There’s the bus,” you could say, “Yes, there goes the long, yellow bus up the hill.” This is a good way to help a young child learn more words without

directly teaching. Do your best to repeat their statements without turning what you say into a question. • Praise your child during play. Identify specific behaviors in your child that you want to encourage. Try to comment on what your child does and how it’s done: “I see you’re stacking those blocks very carefully.” • Allow your child to play with toys in any way that is not harmful. Keep in mind that there is no one right way to play with a toy.

Find more tips from Seattle Children’s Hospital for mastering the art of CDP at

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Out + About It’s a Playground Roundup! 4 new destination playgrounds that park hoppers really must visit this summer Natasha Dillinger, Devon Hammer and Kate Missine contributed to this article.

Restless families have been sticking pretty close to home this past year, but while we’ve been in sheltering mode, new and revamped playgrounds have quietly been springing up like volunteer flowers. We sent our trusty playground pros out to get the scoop on some of the best new destination playgrounds around Puget Sound that, so far, have opened or reopened to families in 2021. Safety first: Until we emerge from the other side of this pandemic mess, remember to wear your masks, wash your hands, keep your distance from those outside your family, and move on if you stop by a park and find a crowd.

Forest Park Playground Everett Occasionally, playgrounds that are touted as “all abilities” include one or two small elements for kids with disabilities. Forest Park, however, could practically serve as a catalog for the options available for inclusive play spaces. The playground Forest Park features some fantastic, new-to-me structures, such as the We-Go-Round, a merry-go-round that enables wheelchair users to glide in and lock in place before turning. The equipment was installed by PlayCreation, the company that partnered with Landscape Structures to create local-gem playgrounds at Juanita Beach Park, Yesler Terrace and Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park.

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Forest Park Playground. Photos by Natasha Dillinger

A wheelchair-accessible ramp leads to a Sway Fun glider (similar to a seesaw) and roller slide, perfect for a gradual descent down to a soft turf play surface that cushions any falls. A forest-themed space is attached to the ramp-accessible play structure. Older and ambitious kids will find lots to occupy them here — there are plenty of climbing structures and a tall slide. If you go … Find it: Forest Park is located at 205 Park Rd. in Everett, about a 35-minute drive from Seattle or Bellevue. You’ll find a large lot with free parking and clean multi-stall restrooms. Nearby snacks: Visit The Loft Coffee Bar in downtown Everett ( for hot chocolate topped with whipped

cream, sprinkles and a gummy bear. For lunch, pick up pizza slices at Brooklyn Bros. Pizzeria (, a couple of miles away. More North Sound–area play stops: • Make it a parkapalooza! Kids can clamber over rocks and other parkour-like features at Exploration Park Playground (13901 North Point Circle, Mill Creek). Visit Seaview Park, Edmonds’ first inclusive playground (8030 185th St. S.W.). Find dinos, a fishing pond, a garden and more at Jennings Memorial Park (6915 Armar Rd., Marysville). • Beloved Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett reopened to the public on June 21. — Natasha Dillinger

Juanita Beach Park

5–12 — provide protected spaces underneath for kids who need a little breathing room.


Swings, the smaller climbing space and the roller slide are popular features for younger kids, while mid-level sensory features such as drums, steering wheels and spinning colored discs engage older kids.

In addition to having fun on the playground, families can watch the ducks on the short boardwalk, take one of the side trails through wetlands or relax by the beach. Large new picnic pavilions with covered grills offer families space for outdoor dining in sight of the playground, and the park will also offer food concessions and nonmotorized boat rentals this summer.

If you go … Find it: Juanita Beach Park is located at 9703 N.E. Juanita Dr. in Kirkland. Two adjoining parking lots offer space for about 200 cars; there are several ADA spots.

The playground This spacious all-abilities playground delights kids with features such as adaptive swings (including a fun double swing) and space to zoom around with a minimum of barriers. The playground’s level entrance and turf play surface accommodate wheelchairs, strollers and wobbly toddlers.

Facilities: Newly constructed gender-specific and gender-neutral restrooms are adjacent to the playground, alongside a seasonal bathhouse for changing into and out of swimwear. Nearby nosh: Drop by Urban Coffee Lounge ( for hot chocolate and a croissant after playtime. (I recommend the salted maple latte.) If your

Two climbing structures — one structure designed for ages 2–5 and the other for ages

family has an adventurous streak when it comes to ice cream, stop by the new Salt & Straw location ( at Totem Lake Village, a couple of miles away. Need more? Expand your playground circuit with nine more super-fun Eastside parks kids love. — Natasha Dillinger

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West Fenwick Park Kent The highlight of Kent’s recently renovated West Fenwick Park is a colorful and fanciful board-game-themed playground that complies with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. Alongside this phenomenal playground, other park attractions include a covered area with picnic tables and outdoor grills, a futsal field, a central lawn area, a basketball court and a tennis court. The playground A rainbow-colored path of game spaces winds through and around the entire playground. Scads of chutes and ladders — i.e., slides and climbing structures — line the path. Because the playground is built on a hill, there is plenty of elevation change for the slides and ladders, plus fun artificial turf hills to run up and roll down. Instruc-

tions to play the game can be found on a large signboard at the entrance to the playground. The game spinner doubles as a merry-go-round. My kids had tons of fun pretending they were pawns in the game and making it all the way to the finish line. (Pro tip: Yell out higher numbers to speed things up.) If you go … Find it: West Fenwick Park is located at 3808 S. Reith Rd. in Kent. It is roughly a 25-minute drive from Seattle, Bellevue or Tacoma. There is a decent-size parking lot adjacent to the playground. Multi-stall restrooms are located right near the playground. Make a day of it: • Get the wiggles out indoors at the inclusive Kaleidoscope Family Gym in Puyallup. • Explore a 5,000-year-old peat bog at Shadow Lake Nature Preserve in

West Fenwick Park. Photo by Devon Hammer


• Make an international lunch stop at Tukwila’s innovative Spice Bridge Food Hall on the way home. — Devon Hammer

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Sunset Neighborhood Park features 3.2 acres of walkways, open lawns, rain gardens and an entry plaza with pergolas. But the star of the show is, of course … The playground This jaw-dropping new playground is a destination for squealing-good risky play. The main play structure consists of a giant pyramid with a slide, connected by a suspension bridge to two climbing towers. The two towers reach 19 feet and 25 feet in height, and they’re linked by a rope tunnel. The climbing structures are huge, with a base that takes a good few minutes to walk around, and aren’t for the faint of heart. If anyone in your crew is timid or anxious when it comes to heights, they may not love

Positive parenting. Happy kids. Easier parenting. Pierce County is a great place to raise a family. And extra support makes parenting easier and more enjoyable! Happier kids.

Sunset Neighborhood Park. Photo by Kate Missine

it. That said, as long as kids feel comfortable, parents can rest easy: The structures are safely constructed, with the tallest sections of the towers enclosed in plexiglass for extra peace of mind. The adjacent toddler section consists of a tot-friendly Kompan play structure, along with two bucket swings and seesaws. This space will keep younger siblings occupied, but it’s really the older kiddos who have all the fun here — provided they love climbing. If you go ... Find it: Sunset Neighborhood Park is located at 2680 Sunset Lane N.E. in Renton. Street parking is available in the surrounding residential areas and adjacent to the library building. New (and sparkling clean!) restroom facilities are located on-site. Snack tips: Try the Taqueria Los Potrillos #5 food truck for tacos or Renton Deli for delicious banh mi sandwiches. (There’s also a Subway nearby for less adventurous eaters.) — Kate Missine

Help them grow up to be happy, resilient, confident and have the selfdiscipline they need to succeed!

The Positive Parenting Program—or Triple P— gives you tips and ideas to bring out the best in your children. Triple P’s practical strategies help you: •

Strengthen family relationships.

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Join the more than 4 million behaviors. Learn at more familiesmore who feel confident and happier as• Take care of yourself as a parent. parents. or call

(253) 649-1011. Triple P is FREE and Choose the format that works for open to families with you: Online course or support group. children ages 0-17.

Learn more at

Find more fabulous recently launched playgrounds at

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Ages + Stages

Science Says You Should Give ChildLed Parenting a Try. Here’s Why By Sanya Pelini, Ph.D.

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It is often said that engaged parenting is the best way to raise a child. Although engaged parenting has its benefits, the line between being an engaged parent and being an overly engaged one may occasionally become a little blurred. Researchers whose studies have largely focused on overindulgent parenting say that when you give too much, love too much or excuse too much, you could be doing your child a

major disservice. They say that overindulgent parenting can lead to lasting issues, such as learned helplessness, irresponsibility, poor self-control and a sense of entitlement. In a recent study, researchers led by Stanford University associate professor Jelena Obradović observed how parents engaged with their kids in everyday situations, such as when they were playing, tidying

up after themselves, learning a new game or discussing a problem. Approximately 100 children between the ages of 4 and 6 participated in the study. The researchers wanted to analyze parent-child interactions to understand how that engagement influences children’s behavior. The study found that too much parent-led parenting can be counterproductive. In other words, the children of parents who intervened unnecessarily — for instance by suggesting solutions or asking questions even when their children were on top of things — were more likely to have a more difficult time regulating their behavior and their emotions. These children also tended to struggle more with issues related to self-control, executive function skills and attention. Ever since psychologist Haim Ginott interviewed a teen who spoke of feeling like his parents constantly “hovered over him, like a helicopter,” “helicopter parenting” has become a term commonly used to refer to parents who are always present, parents who overindulge their children. This type of “hovering” parenting can lead to negative outcomes. That said, children need their parents to be present, they need nurturing and they need some form of structure in order to thrive. So, how do you find the right balance between being too present and not being present enough?

Good job keeping your child healthy. Keep it up by seeing a pediatrician. There’s no better way to keep your child healthy than by regular visits to your pediatrician, and there’s no better time than now. Schedule an appointment today.

The Stanford University researchers suggest that adopting child-led parenting can make it easier to know when you need to intervene and when it is time to pull back. Here are four easy ways to adopt this practice.

1. Don’t help unless you have to. Wanting to help your child is normal, but too much intervention can prevent them from learning to do things by and for themselves. Honestly go over how you engage. Does your child constantly require your help? Are you always hovering? What do you do for them that you should be letting them do for themselves? Be honest about what you need to stop doing and what your child needs to start doing independently. Be willing to step back and let them lead in situations where your intervention is unnecessary.

2. Give your child the tools they need to succeed. You’ve probably heard Maria Montessori’s well-known mantra: “Help me to help myself.” Montessori believed that if children were provided with

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Invincible Health and Wellness

continued from page 29

Prenatal classes supporting Lifestyle, Exercise, Attitude and Nutrition for a healthy pregnancy.

the right tools in the right environment, they would succeed. In terms of raising your child, this means helping them develop important skills, such as: pregnancy

• Decision-making – Encourage your child to participate in the decisions that concern them. Examples can be as mundane as asking them to choose between their red shirt or their blue one. Invite them to negotiate the “negotiables,” or ask for their opinion when making a family decision or solving a family issue.

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for themselves by ensuring that they have the tools they need to succeed. Encouraging your child to do age-appropriate chores shows them that they are capable of success.

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3. Step in when you have to.

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Although kids benefit from experimenting and learning to do things by themselves, there are many occasions when they require a parent to intervene.

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• Autonomy – Set your child up to accomplish things

Most children require parental intervention to help them understand and learn to deal with difficult situations and emotions. That said, parental intervention does not mean shielding your child from those situations and feelings. It simply means being present to talk things over and provide them with the tools they need to deal with those situations when they recur in the future.

4. Provide a strong structure. Freedom can work only within an established structure. You can let go only if both you and your child are aware of what is expected. So, what are your negotiables and nonnegotiables in terms of your child’s behavior? What do you expect from your child, and what are the consequences if those expectations are not met? Does your child clearly understand the expectations and the consequences? Overly engaged parenting always comes from a good place, but it can turn your child into a dependent adult. The more you let go, the more you show your child that you believe they have what it takes to succeed in life.

Sanya Pelini, Ph.D., transforms educational research into practical tools and resources on her blog Raising Independent Kids (

Parent Day Jobs Meet Vivian Song Maritz Mother of four makes a bid for Seattle Public Schools board

Photo courtesy of Vivian Song Maritz

By Alayne Sulkin Vivian Song Maritz has been hearingimpaired her entire life, but this disability has developed into a remarkable ability to be a highly attuned and perceptive “noticer” of what is needed and important to others and to the community. In a world that seems increasingly divided and characterized by a lot of noise and little action, Vivian demonstrates a talent for quietly making space for many, and giving time to everyone who needs it. This gift, in combination with her financial acuity, powerful sense of loyalty, devotion to her community, deep-rooted generosity and commitment to public schools, has motivated her to throw her hat, mind and spirit into running for a seat on the board of directors for Seattle Public Schools. We caught up with her to learn more about why she is running.

What motivates you to run for a seat on the board of directors for Seattle Public Schools? I am the parent of four current and future Seattle public school kids, the youngest of whom graduates from Seattle Public Schools in 2035. You could say I have some skin in the game!

What issues are your “hot buttons” and why? We need to establish mental health as an essential service to reengage students who are falling behind, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic. Our students cannot be expected to learn without providing needed mental health support after the trauma of this pandemic. We need a budget that reflects our values. Seattle Public Schools has a $1 billion budget and a $70 million shortfall for 2021–22. Without better financial management, we will be unable to meet our goals. We need to fix our transportation system. Too many families do not have the transportation support they need. We need to refocus our resources with an equity lens, and at the same time, partner with city and metro leaders to get our kids to school. We need to recommit to excellence. We need to invest in and expand the programs that will draw families and staff to Seattle Public Schools and fully unleash the creativity and skills of our teachers and principals.

I feel tremendous urgency to serve our community right now. A year and a half after the emergency pandemic closure, we must tackle the simultaneous crises: Racism, mental health and learning loss all loom large, together with a large budget deficit.

As an Asian American, what distinct perspectives would you bring to this board role? I grew up as an Asian American in an auto-manufacturing town during the era when Japanese competition was forcing some factories to shut down. I know firsthand the kind of vicious racism or hate some students experience at school. I feel for all students who experience this, Asian or otherwise.

I see an opportunity to “build back better” as we emerge from the pandemic, and I am eager to do this hard work. I want all students and staff at Seattle Public Schools to succeed.

I see an opportunity for me to uplift the voices of our Asian students, families and staff, and contribute to making Seattle Public Schools a safe and inclusive place for everyone. This will include recruiting more

Read the full interview at

teachers and staff of color; continuing our progress on anti-racist education; and expanding programming, such as dual-language immersion schools, that reflects the unique needs of our students and families. What do you see as the current top strengths and challenges of this current school board? I’m grateful to our current school board directors (and their families!) for their public service, especially given the intense pressure of being a leader during this pandemic. The current school board is committed to equity and racial justice, as am I. Among the resolutions passed this year are a declaration that the lives of Black students matter and designating a day of observance in honor of the life and legacy of Billy Frank Jr., a Nisqually tribal leader. To succeed, the board needs to set clear goals and to make sure their time and governance model is aligned with reaching those goals. The board has understandably been very reactive in the past year, but now is the time to turn to outcomes. I will work with my fellow board members to establish goals, define the metrics and outcomes that we want to see, and then support the district staff as they execute. The mayor and the school board have clashed on some issues in the past year: child-care centers, homeless encampments on school property and more. State officials have told me they have little to no communication with the board, despite 65 percent of its funding coming from state sources. Engaging and collaborating our city and state officials is necessary for our district to get the resources needed for students and staff to succeed.

Alayne Sulkin is the publisher and CEO of ParentMap.

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