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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET Human children, like puppies, antelopes, sharks, and cheetahs, just need to move to be alive. Physical exercise is essential for health and well-being. Pick up any newspaper or visit any news site and you’ll read about the prev- alence of childhood obesity, the extinction of school recess, and the dimin- ishing green play spaces in urban areas. The experts agree: children need more opportunities to run around like crazy cakes. This essential play experience includes other forms of physical move- ment, such as climbing, skipping, dancing, or rolling down a hill. In chap- ter 3 we’ll look at ways parents can help make sure their children get out and move. 4 • Cuddling Something Soft and Small All young children, boys as well as girls, need to find something smaller and softer than they are, something they can hold and hug and cuddle and love. Most children will find a special lovey without any assistance from an adult. It will probably be a doll or stuffed animal, but it might be something more unusual, such as a scrap of a baby blanket, one of Daddy’s old T-shirts, or a dishcloth. Often the special lovey becomes a friend, a confidant, or even an extension of the child, a surrogate in times of stress (“Baby bear is scared, she needs a hug from Mommy.”). Not every child will naturally gravitate toward a special soft lovey. Some actually prefer the solid, smooth texture of plastic or rubber toys. Others may prefer to strike out into the world on their own, unencumbered by a special toy. The complex gender, cultural, and developmental issues involv- ing cuddling soft toys will be explored in chapter 4. 5 • Laughing, Joking, and Other General Silliness Laughter is the currency of childhood; it is more valuable than gold or sil- ver, stocks and bonds. For many children, the first joke they make involves putting something ridiculous on top of their heads—a shoe, a handful of spaghetti, the dog’s slobbery bone. What could be more delightful than a toddler with something completely silly balanced on top of his big round head, squealing with delight? From peekaboo games to wet, messy 6 … Introduction COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL