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Letting kids have playtime is the most productive thing parents can do. Here's why.

Could regular playtime be setting kids up for a better life?

health, playground, research, benefits, playing
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It's so much more than fun.

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Nike's Made to Play

If you've ever watched kids on a playground running around and laughing, you might think they’re just having a great time.

It's hard to imagine that something so fun could help them succeed at the more serious life stuff. But that is, in fact, exactly what playtime is doing.

Research has actually proven time and time again that regular play is integral to kids' success in school, social situations, and, eventually, the careers that they choose to pursue.


So the next time you see kids giggling while they hang on jungle gyms or dig around in a sandbox, you might not want to just write it off as silliness — they're actually learning the fundamentals of adult behavior.

Here are 21 reasons you should encourage the kids in your life to play more all year long.

1. Kids aren't made to sit still. They're made to play.

Human kids are born with a natural desire to play, and it helps them learn important skills. That said, today's kids are way less active than their parents and generations were before them. However, if you give the kids in your life the opportunity to play, you're doing your part to help reverse this unhealthy trend.

2. Playing helps kids stay active, and active kids do better in school.

Active kids tend to have increased concentration, go to school more regularly, and are usually better behaved once they get there. In fact, studies suggest that they’re noticeably more attentive and less distracted right after an active play session.

So in a way, encouraging play is just as useful as paying extra for a tutor, if not more so.

3. They’re also more well-adjusted overall.

Kids who play regularly tend to have healthier eating habits and more confidence than inactive kids because they’re running on endorphins that boost mood and improve behavior.

Imagine, just by letting them go hog wild outside once a day, you might have the most well-adjusted kids on the block!

team, collaboration, education, investing in health

A group of children pulling a rope in a game of tug-o-war.

Photo by Anna Samoylova on Unsplash

4. And play can give them a major mood boost.

Research suggests that being more physically active can improve a kid’s self-esteem, mood, and social interactions all at once. If your kid mopes around the house, complaining that they have nothing to do, why not seize the opportunity and send them outside?

5. Play encourages healthy brain development, especially in younger kids.

You know how little kids seem to create fantastical worlds every time they play? All that creative thinking is helping them expand their imaginations in a super productive way. It's like cognitive strength training — not only are they building up their dexterity and physical strength, but by interacting with other kids in this way, they're also establishing emotional strength.

6. And that emotional strength pays off down the line.

Did you know that emotionally intelligent people tend to be more successful? According to analysis by Egon Zehnder International, it’s one of the most common attributes of thriving senior executives. This is where that starts.

7. Meanwhile, not playing could actually shorten kids’ lives.

According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is the fourth-leading risk factor for death worldwide. However, so far, that stat doesn't seem to be scaring people enough to get kids moving. Hopefully this list will encourage some parents to start changing that!

8. The sitting epidemic is very real, especially in our country.

In America alone, physical activity in kids between the ages of 9 and 15 has dropped by 75%. What better reason is there to make use of the longest day of the year?

sitting, physical activity, play, habits, risks

Kids have replaced physical activity with sedentary playing.

Photo from Pixabay

9. But American kids aren’t the only ones who are affected by inactivity.

According to the World Health Organization, 80% of 11- to 17-year-olds around the world fail to meet the minimum requirements of physical activity: 60 minutes a day. If the trend continues, your kids could live five years less than you.

10. And kids get a little less active every year.

Children are the most active at age 6, and then they tend to start slowing down. By the time they're 19, many kids are as sedentary as 60-year-olds, according to The Washington Post.

While this sounds scary, a little extra playtime now can reverse this trend.

11. That said, kids who start out active tend to stay active.

It’s pretty simple — starting such a habit at a young age is proven to help kids carry that habit with them into adulthood. And if they're active adults, odds are they'll encourage their kids to be active too — and just like that, you've started an extremely healthy chain reaction.

12. Child-driven play is also where kids learn skills they'll need as adults.

One of the biggest questions asked in job interviews is if you work well with others. That's not a skill you acquire in high school or college — it starts much earlier, on the playground. When left to their own devices, children develop the confidence they need to take control and make decisions. They also learn how to share, negotiate, and resolve conflicts in a diplomatic way.

13. Boys are twice as active as girls.

In fact, by the age of 14, girls drop out of team sports twice as often. Reasons for this include everything from a lack of athletic opportunities to social stigmas against sporty girls.

That’s why it’s so important to get girls moving early — so they’ll be more inclined to stay in the game down the road.

girls, depression, success, motivation

A young girl swings on the monkey bars.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

14. But when girls do stay active, it makes a huge difference.

Those who keep playing usually get giant doses of confidence and coping and decision-making skills. Simultaneously, risks of depression, stress, and other dangerous behaviors like eating disorders tend to drop off.

15. Plus, active girls tend to become successful women.

A 2015 study of 400 female C-suite executives found that over half of them played sports at a university level. What's more, Fortune found that over 80% of female Fortune500 executives played a competitive sport at some time in their lives.

Can you see these powerhouses as little tikes on the blacktop during recess? They must've given every boy a run for their money.

16. That’s why it’s so important for them to have motivators they can look up to.

Research suggests that when girls have positive female role models in their lives, it sets them up for a better future. Unfortunately, in 2017 only 28% of youth coaches were female. If more women can be that role model for their kids, nieces, or kids in their neighborhood, they’ll be making a major impact on them.

17. Regardless of gender, though, when it comes to test scores, active kids set the curve.

When regular play is part of a child's life, it can help them stay attentive and put focused energy into their studies. And there are stats to prove it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), students who are regularly active tend to have higher grade point averages and lower high school dropout rates. In fact, active kids have been shown to score up to 40% higher on tests than inactive kids.

18. Regular activity also gives your kid a better chance at a more successful career.

No matter what career path your 8-year-old chooses in the future, playing everyday now could give them the boost they need to land the job of their dreams. In fact, studies suggest physically active kids are 15% more likely to go to college and earn an average of 7-8% more money than an inactive kid.

bonding, healthy parenting, play, learning

A father at play with his daughter.

Photo by lauren lulu taylor on Unsplash

19. What’s more, play is a great way for parents and kids to bond.

Kids learn games from their parents, and vice versa, which always makes for an incredibly adorable good time.

And, since school recess has been cut back, encouraging play is largely up to parents these days. Over the past two decades, schools across the country have cut down recess significantly — in some cases, entirely.

The more parents can motivate their kids to get moving outside of school, the more they'll counteract this unfortunate rollback.

20. But if parents get in the way of kid play too much, it can offset its benefits.

If you dictate how they should play, you might actually hinder all the positive effects playtime can have. Giving up that control might be hard, but it can also be a game changer in kids' development.

21. Play is so important that it is recognized by the United Nations as a fundamental human right.

Because the name suggests it's not productive time spent, it's easy to let playtime become a privilege or reward. But regular active play could be the difference between a happy, healthy, successful adult and one who struggles to get through the day.

If a prestigious, international organization like the U.N. understands that and puts its importance on par with food and shelter, it's time for parents and schools everywhere to pick up the play baton and run with it — and encourage their kids to do the same every day.

This article originally appeared on 06.21.18

Sponsored

3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

We get to see the world through Mr. Kitters' eyes.

Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a cat? To watch the world from less than a foot off the ground, seeing and hearing things humans completely miss, staring out the window for hours while contemplating one of your nine lives?

Well, thanks to one person, we need wonder no more—at least about what-they're-seeing part.

The TikTok channel Mr. Kitters the Cat (@mr.kitters.the.cat) gives us a cat's-eye view of the world with a camera attached to Mr. Kitters' collar. And the result is an utterly delightful POV experience that takes us through the daily adventuring of the frisky feline as he wanders the yard.


In a video titled "Spicy cats," which has more than 74 million views on TikTok, we begin with the cutest cat sneeze ever. Then we hear Mr. Kitters' meow as we walk with him through the grass before the scene switches to a thrilling, yowling cat chase he witnesses across the yard (while tucking himself even more securely under the bush he's in).

The best is seeing his kitty paws as he walks and then digs in the mulch. And there's apparently something very exciting that needs to be pounced on right along a chain link fence.

Watch and enjoy:

@mr.kitters.the.cat

Spicy cats 🌶️ #fyp #cat #meow

The commenters made their delight known.

"I love how he saw the cat fight and was like that's not my business today," wrote one person.

"WHEN HE DIGS WITH HIS LIL PAWS," declared another.

"People: Cats only meow at humans." Mr Kitters -Meows at everything-" wrote another.

And of course, countless people responded simply to the sneeze with "Bless you."

Mr. Kitters has other POV videos as well. This one demonstrates how chatty he is and shows his black cat buddy as well.

@mr.kitters.the.cat

“What do you want?” “Nothing!” #fyp #cat #meow

It really sounds like he says, "Let me in," doesn't it?

And this "extreme sports" video is riveting.

@mr.kitters.the.cat

Extreme sports 💀 #fyp

It's funny how something as simple as putting a camera around the neck of a cat can draw in tens of millions of people. We're all so curious about the lives of the creatures we see every day, and the adorable quirkiness of cat behavior is a big part of why we keep them as companions in the first place. Seeing the world through their point of view is just one more way we can enjoy and learn about our pet friends.


This article originally appeared on 6.15.23

Family

'Would you let your child wear this?': Mom asks if she's 'overreacting' to a Target dress.

"I don’t usually even let my girls wear bikinis, but maybe I’m overreacting, I don’t know. Thoughts?”

A controversial dress being sold at Target.

There seems to be a constant war between children’s clothing retailers who want to push the boundaries of modesty and parents who push back, saying they are sexualizing children. On top of that, when young girls believe they are supposed to wear clothes that are tight-fitting and revealing, it's very damaging to their self-esteem and body image.

“I think it’s one thing that the girls’ clothes are very fitted and small, and it’s another that they’re in such direct contrast to what you find on the boys’ side, and those two things send a pretty strong message about what they’re supposed to look like, dressed to be slim and to be fit,” Sharon Choksi, a mom of two and founder of the clothing line, Girls Will Be, told CNN.

The topic came up again recently when Meghan Mayer, a mother of 2 and a 7th-grade school teacher, posted a video on TikTok about a dress she saw at Target that received over 1.6 million views.


Meghan was reacting to a smock-style patterned dress with balloon sleeves that appeared modest at first glance. But after closer examination, it has holes on the waist on both sides, revealing the girl’s midriff and possibly more.

“My oldest daughter and I are at Target and there’s some cute spring stuff,” Mayer started the video. "I am a little bit more conservative when it comes to my kids’ clothing, so maybe I’m overreacting, but let me know what you think of these dresses.”

She added that the dress may be okay for a 12-year-old but was inappropriate in her opinion for a 6-or 7-year-old.

Mayor asked her followers what they thought of the dress. “Like I said, I know I’m a little bit more conservative. I don’t usually even let my girls wear bikinis, but maybe I’m overreacting, I don’t know. Thoughts?”

For reference, she then showed the sizes of the dresses to show they were for kids and then revealed the holes in the sides. “Look at these little slits on the sides of these dresses, right at the hips on all these dresses,” she said.

Most people commenting on the video thought the dress was a bit much for such a young girl to wear.

"You're not overreacting. You're parenting properly," Paper Bound Greetings wrote. "No, no. There is no reason for those holes to be there. They should have pockets! Not holes!" Anna wrote. "I think retailers are trying to mature our kids too fast. I agree with mom!" HollyMoore730 commented.

But some people thought that that dress was acceptable and Mayer was overreacting.

"Unpopular opinion, I think they’re cute," Dr. Robinson wrote. "When I was a kid in the ‘70s I wore halter tops and tube tops; they were not seen as big deals. I don’t think this is scandalous," Kimberly Falkowsi added. "Overreacting. Both my girls have the blue and white, you can’t even tell much. It’s not that big of a hole. The dresses are so cute," LolitaKHalessi commented.

Some commenters told Mayer that she should buy the dress and have her daughter wear a shirt beneath it so it doesn’t show skin. But Mayer believes that would be supporting Target for making questionable kids' clothing.

"No, I'm not going to buy it and have them wear a tank top with it, because then that's showing Target that it's OK," she told Today.com. "And over time, the cutout will get bigger and bigger."


This article originally appeared on 3.1.24

via Pexels

What's the most relaxing song in the world?

Stressed? Of course you are. Luckily for you, and the entire U.S. population, scientists believe they may have identified the most relaxing song in the world.

Music has forever been associated with bringing about relaxation, happiness, and serenity — whether it's a Gregorian chant or some Enya accompanied by a glass of merlot.

Neuroscientists in the United Kingdom think they have found the one song that relieves stress and soothes our souls more than any other.


Mindlab International, a market research firm, conducted a study a few years ago in which participants completed difficult (and possibly stressful) puzzles while their brain activity was monitored. To study its effect, music was played while they completed the puzzles.

One song stood out above the rest. "Weightless" by Marconi Union (listen below), an English ambient music band, induced a 65% reduction in stress among participants, according to Inc. And DailyMail.com reported that the song was 11% more effective than most other songs — by such musicians as Adele and Coldplay — in reducing blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing speed.

The 2011 song was created by the band, along with the British Academy of Sound Therapy, to do just that — relax listeners.

If you prefer something with lyrics, try Enya's "Watermark" or "Pure Shores" by All Saints, which were also proven to be relaxing,

Music therapy is considered to be a natural therapy important in alleviating stress. Because stress is an important cause of other deadly illness, fighting it is key to maintaining good health. Numerous studies have shown how damaging stress can be to our bodies and our brain. So don't let it get out of control. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the music.

This article originally appeared on 11.03.16

An anry wife shares her thoughts with her husband.

A husband invited some new coworkers over for dinner and instead of properly introducing his wife, he made a sexist joke that she felt was belittling. The wife, who goes by the name Sadie on Reddit, shared the story on the AITA forum to ask if she responded correctly.

Spoiler alert: Yes, she did.

“My husband invited his new coworkers over for dinner. When they arrived, he introduced me by gesturing at me and saying, ‘This is Mrs. Smith (he didn't even say my name)...the housewife!'" Sadie revealed.

“I looked at him for a second, then I started laughing hysterically,” Sadie continued. “I then told said, ‘No, honey, I work full time, and YES I still act like a housewife when I'm home because you simply can't bother to help.’” After Sadie’s remark, the guests stared at the husband, who tried to laugh it off and then changed the subject by asking them if they wanted a drink.


The rest of the dinner was awkward, with the husband and wife exchanging angry glances. After the guests left, the husband blew up at Sadie, saying that she laughed like a “lunatic” and that she ruined “his image.”

“I told him he was wrong to lie about my status and deny my degree, to begin with,” Sadie continued. He said I could've talked to him about it privately later but not like this, and making his coworkers think he's useless.” Sadie asked the online forum if she was out of line, and they responded with a collective no.

People overwhelmingly supported the wife, raising an issue far beyond the fact that her husband was seriously inconsiderate. It’s a big red flag in a relationship when one spouse diminishes or belittles the other in public or private.

“Men who diminish their partners to look better at the office are gross. He only seemed to care about his embarrassment and not yours. I'd be mortified if my husband used a lie that robbed me of my success and accomplishments to prop himself up," Geranium27 wrote.

“It's a red flag for the relationship. He doesn't want a partner who is an equal. He wants a dependent woman who he can provide for completely so he can feel like a man," RedWanderingLizard added.

Some also noted that it was wrong of him to disparage homemakers.

"He diminished (being a housewife is not a ‘low’ role, but he meant it that way) you in public, you corrected him. In public. As he deserved,” LetThemEatHay wrote.

The viral post received over 24,000 comments, highlighting the idea that belittling your partner is a serious sign of a dysfunctional relationship that should not be ignored.

According to Psychology Today, backhanded compliments, digs and subtle put-downs are attempts by one partner to make the other feel small and themselves feel big. “Although cleverly disguised as a joke or a compliment, these comments may qualify as ‘toxic’ if they sting, cause confusion, and replay in a person’s mind for days, disrupting their peace,” Erin Leonard, Ph.D. writes.

Ultimately, commenters overwhelmingly agreed that Sadie was right not to let her husband's belittling compliment go unnoticed. By sharing it online, she opened up a meaningful discussion about appropriate humor in relationships. Studies show that it’s healthy for partners to joke around with one another, but when the comments are thinly veiled put-downs and backhanded compliments, it’s no laughing matter.

Representative photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash

Ever seen a symphony played on a guitar?

Anyone who has tried learning to play guitar knows it's not as easy as some people make it look. It's not as visually linear as the piano, requires all of your fingers to do multiple things at once, and until you build up calluses on your fingertips, it can be quite painful. So when someone plays guitar well and with apparent effortlessness, we should give them props. And when someone goes a level (or 10) beyond that, it's appropriate to experience some serious awe and wonderment.


Meet Marcin Patrzałek, known simply as Marcin, a Polish guitarist who stunned the "America's Got Talent" audience in Season 14 with his rendition of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. Clearly, an entire symphony is not a piece written for solo guitar, but seeing Marcin play it might actually convince you that it was.

The way he uses the whole guitar is mesmerizing, and the fact that he arranged this when he was only 18 is really something. Watch:

Despite his early elimination, 23-year-old Marcin has since built a significant online following. His talents have only grown, as has the number of musical genres he's covered with the guitar.

Check him out doing opera with this piece from "Carmen."

@marcin.music

When a guitarist joins an opera… #guitar #classicalmusic

How about some blues with a little "Ain't No Sunshine"…and kittens?

@marcin.music

“Ain’t No Sunshine” on one guitar is out now everywhere 🐱 #guitar #blues #cattok

Audiences find Marcin's extraordinary guitar skills both awe-inspiring and amusing.

"This man straight up said, 'If i buy a whole guitar, I'm gonna use the whole guitar.'"

"Bruh the guitar didn’t even know it could do that."

"Bop it. Pull it. Twist it."

"How my parents expected me to play on the first day of guitar lessons."

"Okay I know this is impressive but if you’ve ever seriously tried to play an acoustic you know THIS IS SO IMPRESSIVE."

"I tried this once but decided to do something easier like astrophysics."

Many were curious about how Marcin plays high on the neck without plucking the strings. It's actually a guitar technique called "hammer-ons and pull-offs," which lets Marcin's fingers function much like the hammers on a piano do, striking the string to make a note.

But again, Marcin makes it look so easy, combining various guitar techniques into a seamless symphony of sound, all coming from his own fingers.

In fact, he makes it look so easy that there are always comments from people who don't believe he's really playing the guitar, despite plenty of videos in which he's playing live and guitarists in the comments explaining how he's doing it (and being properly awed by it). If you want definitive proof, you might just have to catch him on tour, though most of the dates so far are sold out.

And if you want to hear or see more of Marcin online, you can find his singles here or follow him on TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram.