8 Steps to a Happier Family Life
Stop trying to do some things 100 percent and start making other sanity-saving things a habit.
Is anyone climbing onto the roof? No? OK, go ahead and answer a few text messages. A 2013 study from the University of Missouri, in Columbia, looked at children with mothers who were overly directive or controlling of their choices during playtime. (Think "The blocks go this way, not that way.") The researchers found that the children showed more negative emotions toward their mothers than did kids who played on their own. "Being there is important, and you don't have to be completely hands-off, but early play works best if the child is in charge," says Jean Ispa, Ph.D., the lead author of the study and a professor in the department of human-development and family studies at the University of Missouri. Free, unstructured play bolsters young brains, too. "Kids have to think creatively and adapt to new situations, which is part of developing the ability to solve problems," says Kristen Race, Ph.D., a psychologist and the author of Mindful Parenting ($12, amazon.com).