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Playful Parenting

February 9, 2011

I recently read a book called Playful Parenting by Dr. Lawrence Cohen and I loved it! (Thanks Sara) It is all about connecting with your child through play and the importance of laughter. I really enjoyed this book, because it was so easy to read and understand. Sometimes parenting books can be so dry, but this one has all kinds of ideas for connecting and playing with your child.

Play is a great way to connect with your child, and it can be used to get things done around the house. For example, the other day Hayden helped me put the groceries away, well sort of. He helped me take everything out of the bags and he built castles out of them while I put the perishable items away. After he was done with his castles, he helped me put everything in the cupboards. He thought it was a great game and I got something done!

I also use something from conscious discipline called focused play. If I am trying to get something done (dishes, laundry, etc.) and Hayden is under my feet not allowing me to get my work done. I will set the timer on the oven for 15 minutes and tell him to get whatever he wants to play with and I will give him my undivided attention until the timer goes off. It usually gives him just enough time to get started on something and then I can get back to what I was doing without as many interruptions (still have Elliot to wrangle). Focused play also makes your child feel loved and important just by taking the time to just be with them. Some where along the line we forget how to play, so these little sessions throughout the day are great for me as well!

As adults, we think that our children know exactly what they are feeling and saying when actually their brains are not developed enough to understand their emotions. Adults forget this and treat them like mini adult, which usually ends up back-firing.  Children can become easily overtaken with emotion and will act out by crying, yelling, or kicking and screaming. They may tell us they hate us and we may get mad at them. We take it to heart and usually scold the child for being mean, when actually that child is struggling with emotion! This book shows you how to handle those emotions through play.

Another example was one that I tried from the book. Hayden really has trouble getting dressed in the morning. He can do it all by himself, but some mornings it is a battle, because he does not want to do it. We end up getting into a power struggle over the situation and it becomes meltdown after meltdown. He will act like he is trying and just can’t do it which is all a show, because I know he can get dressed by himself. This is something every child does to try to feel like they have some control over their lives and the decisions. I think he also does it to get attention. Since the birth of his brother, we seem to have more and more of these little outburst from him.

Anyways, I grabbed two of his teddy bears and made them have a discussion about whether Hayden could get dressed on his own or not. It went something like this.

Little Bear: I don’t think he can get dressed by himself.
Koala: yes he can, I have seen him do it before.
LB: no, he can’t. He is not big enough.
Koala: yes he can just watch him.

These two bears continue to argue back and forth, while Hayden willingly gets dressed and is laughing hysterically! It was amazing how well it worked and it has helped me curb other power struggles before they turn into epic battles! I wish I would remember to do this every time I started to feel frustrated. Maybe someday all this play will come naturally.

Playful parenting and conscious discipline are both what I am trying to practice with my children. Some days go better than others, but every day I am learning new ways to handle stressful situations that occur with my children. Being a Mom is my job and I want to do the best I can at it! I love my children and am so blessed that I get to be home to raise them and watch them grow up!

7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 9, 2011 7:25 pm

    I will have to look for this book. I struggle with these same things. Oh and I am so stealing the Teddy bear confersation, as I have a 4yo that like to pull that same thing.

    • February 9, 2011 9:45 pm

      you should read this book, it can really give you some good ideas for games to play with your kids and really stresses the importance of connection! our library had it, so your probably does too! have fun with the bear came and hopefully it works and well for you as it did for me!

  2. February 9, 2011 8:50 pm

    Glad you liked it! You sum it up very well. I still struggle at times to remember to be playful. After all the parenting books I read, I sometimes feel like I have a pretty good handle on things — in my head, at least. But putting it into practice is a completely different thing. I still have plenty of meltdowns myself.

    I love the grocery-castle! Your boys are so cute!

    • February 9, 2011 9:44 pm

      I still struggle with it to sometimes! I know what I need to do, I just choose to freak out from time to time. Playfulness is just something that should come easily, but doesn’t always! Something to work on and like you said before, maybe by child # 4 or 5 we will have it down! (minus the part where my hubby only wants 3 kids) 😦

  3. Pam Drake permalink
    February 10, 2011 1:08 pm

    You are such a great mom!!!!!

  4. February 26, 2011 8:47 am

    i saw this book on your sidebar a whiile back and put it on my reading list too. now i really want to read it 🙂 i’m so bad at playing…i don’t really like doing it all that much. this is good info…i will definately have to read this!

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