As parents and grandparents and caregivers of children consider ways to keep kids busy and entertained during the summer months, perhaps a single father’s “sunny day rule” that he used when his kids were young might be useful.
The father’s name is Mr. Bodkin. If his children stumbled out of bed in the summertime on what promised to be a beautiful day, they found taped to the television set a sign that read: “No TV today. Sunny Day Rule. Dad.”
“If it was raining and cold outside, the children could watch television. But if it was a beautiful day, I saw no reason for letting them grow roots on the sofa. I told them: ‘Outside with you. Go! Go build something! Go swimming! Go ride your bikes! Better yet, go make yourself breakfast!’”
Bodkin says the Sunny Day Rule caused dissension and complaining at first, but he based the wisdom of it on understanding myelin, a gel-like substance that grows along brain cells when learning takes place.
“It’s like dipping fishing net in jelly. And that’s how a memory for life, or better yet, mastery, appears in the neural networks of our brains. That’s how something a child learns to do, or experiences, is stored. Children’s brains contain 10,000 miles of neural network for every cubic inch of cortex. That’s a lot of potential real estate in which to install knowledge.”
Anytime he invoked the Sunny Day Rule, he believed his children’s chances of “myelinating” fresh neural nets soared. With so much incredible potential there, he saw no sense in having it flicker at some dim level for hours on end while the sun was bright outside.
Could you use a Sunny Day Rule with the kids in your care?
Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.