Listen as you drive through most neighborhoods in America these days and you might notice something missing: the shrieks and laughter of kids playing outside.
When my guest today had kids, he decided he wasn’t going to let them grow up in another quiet, morgue-like neighborhood. Instead, he was going to figure out why kids weren’t playing outside anymore, and how to fix the problem. His name is Mike Lanza, and in his book Playborhood: Turn Your Neighborhood Into a Place for Play, he shares how he did just that. At the start of our conversation, Mike explains how he became an advocate for kids playing outside by themselves with minimal adult supervision. He shares his theories on why outdoor play has decreased, and why simply limiting screen time and participation in organized extracurriculars doesn’t solve the problem. Mike then explains why you need a critical mass of kids to be playing outside before outdoor play becomes a norm, and what parents can do to create this critical mass by changing the environment in their yard and the social dynamics in their neighborhood.
- The lengthy search Mike embarked on to find a playful neighborhood
- What are the downsides of kids not playing as much as they used to?
- Why don’t we hear shrieks of laughter in our parks and neighborhoods anymore?
- How neighborhoods have changed in the last handful of decades
- What the network effect can tell us about this change
- What’s the critical mass that turns a neighborhood into a playborhood?
- How to actually get kids in the neighborhood outside playing
- Organizing your yard/real estate for maximum playfulness
- Why you should embrace chaos
- Making a playborhood with limited resources
- Creating a summer camp in your neighborhood
- What about child abductions? Is that a real worry?
- How do you get buy-in from neighbors without kids?
- What can parents do today to get a playborhood going?
Resources/People/Articles Mentioned in Podcast
- How to Raise Free Range Kids
- AoM series on overprotective parenting
- Why You Should Let Your Kids Get Dirty
- The Importance of Roughhousing With Your Kids
- How to Get Your Kids to Love Nature
- The “Third” Place
- The Importance of Play (Especially for Adults)
- Fun With a Pocket Knife: How to Play Mumbley Peg
- The Vanishing Neighbor
- How to Be a Good Neighbor
Connect With Mike
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Read the Transcript