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Welcome to the Power of Play!

2020-03-11 by Melissa and Dr. Jenny
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Parents and caregivers, we’ve heard you. Life feels too busy; kids are crazy about their screens (and sometimes we are, too); and we want our kids to thrive and be successful. That’s why Melissa & Doug is teaming up with the American Academy of Pediatrics to share ideas for how to fit more play — and the tremendous sense of joy it provides both parents and kids — into your everyday life.

We will be sharing new play ideas every week, which will vary from ways to handle difficult behavioral issues through play, to special play tips for tough times of day. To get the latest on these Power of Play initiatives, be sure to sign up for our newsletter here.

5 Big Ideas Behind the Power of Play

As we share play ideas, you will hear us discuss these important core concepts:

  1. Countless ways to play. Play isn’t about achieving a certain product or outcome — it’s a state of mind. We will talk about the different ways families play together, how play changes as kids develop, and how you and your child can cultivate a playful, problem-solving mindset.


  2. Play pays off. Although it takes time and practice, play creates a foundation for life skills like flexibility and empathy that stick with the child as they grow. We will encourage parents to be forward-thinkers, to understand how everyday moments that seem like failures (we all have them!) are actually important opportunities for building future life skills.
  3. Understanding ourselves as parents. Raising children is actually a crucial opportunity for us to grow, as adults. We will talk about how play can help us understand our automatic reactions to our kids (Do we jump in and try to control? Do we get annoyed by mess?). Greater self-understanding may also help reduce our feelings of guilt, automatic judging of other parents, and other unproductive habits.


  4. Understanding our kids’ minds. Children are all wired differently (and so are parents!), so we will talk about ways that play can give us a peek inside what kids are thinking and feeling.
  5. How to be screen-savvy. We’ll help you understand the new American Academy of Pediatrics media guidelines, how to keep technology from creeping into the daily routines that matter most to kids’ health, and how to evaluate whether apps, games, or videos are worth your child’s attention. Plus, we will give you ideas for replacement activities when it seems like screens are all your child wants!


Most importantly, we don’t pretend that we are the “experts” who can tell you the perfect way to play or parent. We will provide ideas and insight, but you know your child best. We’d love to hear from you what is working, and what would be most useful! Please share with us your successes and failures, and let us know how best we can help you in this child-rearing journey!

This web site is not an attempt to practice medicine or provide specific medical advice, nor does use of the site establish a physician-patient relationship. The use of this web site does not replace medical consultation with a qualified health or medical professional to meet the health and medical needs of you or others.


Melissa and Dr. Jenny

About Melissa Melissa Bernstein is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Melissa & Doug, the global toy company committed to championing open-ended, healthy play. As a mother of six who had two children in her 20s, two in her 30s, and two in her 40s, Melissa has had a front-row seat to the dramatic changes in the way kids play and experience childhood due to the rise of technology and other societal factors. She is dedicated to speaking out about the crisis our children face and providing solutions to help families find time for child-led play and exploration.

About Dr. Jenny Jenny Radesky, M.D., is a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician whose research focuses on family digital media use, child social-emotional development, and parent-child interaction. She graduated from Harvard Medical School cum laude in 2007. Since 2016, Dr. Jenny has been an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor. Her clinical work focuses on autism, traumatic stress, ADHD, and self-regulation. Dr. Jenny’s ultimate goal is to help parents understand the individual ways their child thinks, learns, and feels; to help parents provide the best therapy and play experiences for their children; but to also allow parents to sit back and let their child’s mind take the lead sometimes. She authored the 2016 American Academy of Pediatrics digital media guidelines for young children.

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