Increasing Challenges with MESH Helps

by Rachele Harmuth | 09 May 2024

Industry Commentary, Op-Ed

Increasing Challenges with MESH Helps


MESH Helps started with a question, “How can we strengthen the skills kids need for their mental, emotional, and social health and build resilience through play?”. ThinkFun inaugurated this initiative in partnership with resilience expert, Dr. Deborah Gilboa who prepared research and built the MESH White Paper.


MESH Helps is proud to be a nonprofit organization as of December 2023 with a mission to help kids build resilience through play.


This weekly column will share insights on MESH Accreditation and provide details on the MESH play patterns to select and submit products for evaluation during the pre-order sale through May 17, 2024. This week’s column share’s insights on one of four play patterns: increasing challenges.


Providing opportunities for kids to face and understand challenges is important to help process and overcome hardship. Children face new and growing challenges at every age and stage of development which is why kids need to take on tasks and activities that encourage competence to increase their confidence for resilience. Each challenge - environmental, activity-based, educational, etc. - is a building block rather than a stumbling block for kids to grow from experiences big and small.


Increasing Challenges as defined by MESH encourages the skills needed to adapt and comprehend which are critical skills of mental, emotional, and social health.


We recommend using the 4 play patterns as a guide to select and submit products for MESH Accreditation. Through the research and expertise from Dr. Gilboa and the accreditation framework built by Dr. Amanda Gummer, founder of FUNdamentally Children, we found that a majority of toy and game products within these play patterns encourage multiple skills of resilience. To pass MESH Accreditation, products must intentionally develop at least two MESH skills of resilience by design, feature, and/or instruction to pass evaluation. The following play patterns are a good reference for selecting products for MESH Accreditation:


  1. Overcoming Obstacles - Encourages the skills needed to identify and solve problems
    1. Example MESH Skills: problem solving, cognition, adaptation, perseverance


  1. Storytelling - Encourages the skills needed to express experiences
    1. Example MESH Skills: communication, self-advocacy, adaptation, cognition


  1. Increasing Challenges - Encourages the skills needed to adapt and comprehend
    1. Example MESH Skills: perseverance, adaptation, self-regulation, cognition


  1. Bridging Play - Encourages children and adults to play together and connect
    1. Example MESH Skills: communication, conflict resolution, self-advocacy


FUNdamentally Children is the expert third-party accrediting body for MESH Helps which is led by Dr. Amanda Gummer with over 20 years' experience in child behavior development and a PhD in Neuropsychology. The organization provides an independent, evidence-based approach to testing and accreditation. Each product submitted for MESH Accreditation will be reviewed by FUNdamentally Children staff that have credentials in child development and/or education.


Pre-orders for MESH Accreditation end on May 17th and are prioritized for review. Products can be delivered to FUNdamentally Children in the US or the UK by May 31st. MESH Accreditation reviews for pre-orders will be completed by September for holiday marketing. Check out the MESH FAQs Sheet for more information. 


Will you be at ASTRA’s Marketplace & Academy or Toymaster trade shows? Contact if you would like us to stop by your booth to learn more!


For more information on the MESH Accreditation Program, please visit or email

#mental health social health emotional developmet

Tait & Lily, Inventors of Betcha Can't!