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'Playful Parenting'?

(32 Posts)
Meita Wed 01-Jun-11 21:50:57

I recently bought this book purely on the strength of the Amazon reviews, and because I was bored (holding sleeping DS, having one hand free to use the Kindle). Have been reading it (about half way through) and it reads well and seems eminently sensible. However, DS being only 9 months, I wonder how 'real life' it is. Has anybody read the book and can comment? I'd be interested to hear if you find it is an approach that works for you.

The author says that playing is how children work through things and how they communicate things. He advocates getting down on the floor with kids, and to 'follow the giggles'. He says that it is through play that children can come out of feelings of isolation and reconnect, and work through feelings of powerlessness.

One example that has been of use for us already was with DS screaming and banging his head on the table every time we tried to clean his face with a cloth after a meal. Following the book, we made a game out of it. We pretended to wipe our own faces, finding it horrible and making silly faces. Apparently this reversal of roles, where the parents are now the 'powerless' ones even if only in a game, helps the child work through the issue. Things have improved, although DS still doesn't particularly like having his face cleaned. Still, I can't say of course if it was down to the suggestion in the book or just a general thing from getting older or something. And it is a relatively minor issue, so am wondering if it is a workable approach for everyday parenting later on.

What do you think?

piprabbit Wed 01-Jun-11 22:25:07

I've not read the book - but it seems to tie in with a lot of what I've been taught about children learning through play and also making potentially tricky situations fun and enjoyable.

I'm off to check out Amazon grin.

AngelDog Wed 01-Jun-11 22:39:09

I've found that on days when I start off by playing with my 16 m.o. in the way he wants (usually reading books in bed & then throwing balls down the stairs) we have fewer issues with me shouting at me while I try to get on with housework.

I found this kind of approach helped too when he was hysterical about having shoes for the first time.

I suspect it's the sort of thing that will become more and more useful as he gets older, and a lot of the stuff in the second half of the book is particularly informative too IMO.

I would love to find some websites with more specific examples of what sort of approaches/games people have tried for different situations. I have no originality at all, and I often think 'what would work here is a bit of playing', but I have no ideas what to actually do.

VforViennetta Wed 01-Jun-11 22:40:23

Sounds quite good to me, I'm skint atm, but will look it up. I do a similar thing with ds2 wrt to face cleaning, making it fun by tickling or "getting" various bits of it with a wipe, well unless I'm knackered and then it's just full face in wipe scrubby scrub blush.

Actually this technique does sound very dependant on a calm and centred mood in the care giver, I might sometimes fall down on that one.

EveryonesJealousOfGingers Wed 01-Jun-11 23:02:42

OOh SIL gave me this for christmas off my Amazon wish list and it's still on the shelf unopened - but I have a 15mo DD who loathes having her teeth cleaned so your post has inspired me to read it and see what tips I can pick up! Thank you I will report back if I ever actually get time to read it smile

otchayaniye Thu 02-Jun-11 08:49:54

I read it when my daughter was a year old. She's now 2-1/2 and I'm 7 months pregnant. It chimed with us as it's how I am anyway. But it's really useful when you feel the pressure rising. It helps you to step back and see things from their point of view. It won't make life 100 percent harmonious (my child is a tricky sleeper and there's no amount of gamesmanship that will solve that) but it makes life fun and brings you close.

Everything in our house is play really. Dressing, bath, play, teaching, going out. I am a clown, a bit of an idiot by nature, so it does come easily. My husband is a SAHD (well, we both SAH and work part time) and he does this too.

I also don't discipline with rewards or punishment (I guess like UP) and although I don't look like a hippy at all, I do what APers do (cept I don't labour under that tag, if you see what I mean) so this approach works for us.

I'd say it's very real life applicable, whereas sometimes UP is hard.

I think it's particularly useful for older children too. Many parenting books are about toddlers. This is a lifelong relationship approach, I think

DrGruntFotter Thu 02-Jun-11 08:56:53

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DrGruntFotter Thu 02-Jun-11 09:00:15

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meditrina Thu 02-Jun-11 09:09:24

There hadn't been a book about it when mine were small. But it was the sort of thing which was mentioned in general books as something to try.

It can work well, as can many other things. Just keep an open mind and try out whatever seems like a good idea (whether it comes from a book, a friend, your MIL, the batty lady on the bus or wherever. Keep doing what you find has a good effect.

No book ever has all the answers.

naturalbaby Thu 02-Jun-11 09:22:30

i'm half way through and it all seems to be info that i can bank to use when my kids are older. ds1 is just 3 and reaching the "no!" to everything phase so there are times when i remember the book and turn it round to a game.

DrGruntFotter Thu 02-Jun-11 09:28:25

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Iggly Thu 02-Jun-11 09:35:22

Yep have read the book and it's interesting. DS is 20 months and I try and be more playful.

Sometimes a playful approach doesn't work but I try and head off conflict by telling DS a few times that we're going to do something else or we're finished so it doesn't come as a shock when we have to stop something.

I've also found Montessori really interesting too - taking a more child led approach and letting DS do stuff he is interested in - if I find something appropriate for him to play with, he'll be much more engrossed as a result and get more out of it (eg I gave him a packet of pasta to empty into a jug. He loved it!)

DrGruntFotter Thu 02-Jun-11 09:43:52

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Iggly Thu 02-Jun-11 09:49:30

Yep have read the book and it's interesting. DS is 20 months and I try and be more playful.

Sometimes a playful approach doesn't work but I try and head off conflict by telling DS a few times that we're going to do something else or we're finished so it doesn't come as a shock when we have to stop something.

I've also found Montessori really interesting too - taking a more child led approach and letting DS do stuff he is interested in - if I find something appropriate for him to play with, he'll be much more engrossed as a result and get more out of it (eg I gave him a packet of pasta to empty into a jug. He loved it!)

Iggly Thu 02-Jun-11 09:52:53

grin Grunt I guess it's just made me more aware that I can keep DS happy with stuff we've already got instead of buying endless amounts of toys! (I do buy a lot of books though)

DaisyLovesMetronidazole Thu 02-Jun-11 10:17:15

I didn't love it.

The bits I liked I was already doing when I read the book.

I am quite a traditional parent though. Also, I often simply don't have the time to be turning stuff into fun and games. (I am aware that this isn't the only thing it's about, but a lot of it is about turning things into fun and games. Many say that making things fun makes things more efficient, but I only sometimes find this to be the case).

Mainly it was a case of "if it ain't broke..."

Meita Thu 02-Jun-11 10:54:47

Thanks everyone, good to hear your thoughts and experiences!

Daisy that is one thing I was 'concerned' about - the author is a play therapist, lots of examples are for situations where the child has some sort of problem like being bullied or having gone through something traumatic, in which cases the examples seem very convincing. I'm just wondering how good it is for everyday situations and more of a preventative thing rather than a healing, therapeutic thing. I guess it could be a bit tiring to always be 'goofy' as the author calls it, or as DrGrunt put it, perhaps it might undermine one's authority at some point. Though I also see that having a generally lighthearted, humorous approach could make life fun and easy.

Otcha I thought similarly, in some ways it sounds similar to UP in that the child is taken seriously and all, but with a more practical guide to how to go about it. I.e. how can you 'explain to' or 'discuss' with a 2yo why something needs to be done - arguing in a rational way might be hard... and yet you can take them and their viewpoints seriously and communicate with them, through play that addresses the issue at hand.

I think some things that the book has already opened my eyes to/reminded me of is how a child misbehaving might actually be a call for closeness, that children might feel lonely and need reminding that they are loved, and - given how I tend to be a rational, think it through, mind-focused person, that communicating with (young) children will need to happen on a different level.

Anyway, will keep reading, and keep an open mind! smile

camdancer Thu 02-Jun-11 11:10:50

It resonated with me and seemed to describe the type of parent I want to be, so I liked it a lot. The main thing that I find is that when I make things fun, I'm less stressed about whatever we are doing. It is hard to be stressed (and shouty) when you are having a race to get your shoes on, or trying to put DD's shoes on your own feet. It just defuses the situation.

But then I like "How to talk" as well and am definitely on the more lentil weavery side of parenting (UP, AP etc). No book is going to give you all the answers, but I found it had some good ideas, some I was already doing, some I knew about but wasn't doing enough, and some completely new.

swash Thu 02-Jun-11 11:25:47

I think it is eminently achievable - though not all the time. I read it and thought that I already integrate a lot of those ideas into my parenting. It just seems obvious to me that making a joke can defuse a conflict situation, and that having fun with your dcs is part of the point of having them.

(I am stroppy and stressy and shouty with my kids too of course!)

CaptainBarnacles Thu 02-Jun-11 11:30:24

I have read it and think it is excellent. When I remember to put it into practice, my relationship with DD (3) improves immediately, and we get our 'connection' back.

sleepingbunny Thu 02-Jun-11 11:57:37

I loved it - but then I am a "how to talk" fan as well - I think it's made me a less shouty mummy, which has to be a good thing (though I am still quite a shouty mummy!). One thing I will say though is that my three year old DD gets a bit wise to it sometimes - "no mummy, I don't WANT to play that game"/"Don't do the silly voices", so maybe I'm not that convincing at it! The How To Talk strategies work more consistently with her, but I've taken loads of it on board and we play lots more games (yes, I am that Mummy trying to get to school and then work whilst "skipping when we see a red car, flapping like a fairy when we see a blue car.." etc etc). works less consistently with DD2, who is not yet two, but I can see it helping as she gets older...

AngelDog Thu 02-Jun-11 13:25:00

Like Meita, I found some of the stuff on why children might 'misbehave' really helpful.

Some of what he said about the way we hold in our emotions, and then are scared to get close to others in case the held-in emotions all burst out of us rang a real chord with me in terms of my own experience.

DH and I had a long chat about it and it has helped us think about how he can help me deal with some of the issues behind my struggle to make good friends.

Bumperlicioso Thu 02-Jun-11 13:27:57


Iggly Thu 02-Jun-11 20:28:09

Angel, that's a really interesting thing you say - your last line resonated with me as it's an issue I face and have done for as long as I can remember!

AngelDog Thu 02-Jun-11 20:47:04

Cohen gives the example of a girl who had an enormous tantrum for an hour and a half at pre-school. Everyone was surprised because she was usually well-behaved and she'd been 'child of the week' that week. All the positive attention meant she couldn't keep a lid on things any more and it all came pouring out.

I find it's easy for me to either avoid getting to know people well, or to scare them off by being a bit odd (often 'cos I'm trying to keep things together). Also DH tells me that I have unreasonably high standards as to what constitutes a 'good friend', which doesn't help.

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