Be a Playful Parent
It’s one of the best parenting skills, and your children will love it too.
There is one great parenting skill that beats all others, and that is the ability to be playful with our children. Children love to play. They love being silly and goofy but most of all they like when the adults in their lives play with them. They love it when their parents get down to their level and are silly and goofy too. It might take some extra energy and creativity on our parts, but in the end, when humor is used, we enjoy it too.
It is not all fun and games. The benefits of play are manifold. It helps parents and kids bond and connect. Play reduces tension, bringing laughter instead of frustration. Kids are much more likely to cooperate when they are asked to do things in playful ways.
And when we act playful, we are teaching our children an invaluable life skill: how to inject humor into our every day lives. Life is tough, but a sense of humor can always help.
Faber and King in their book, “How To Talk So Little Kids Listen,” outline some simple ways we can use humor and playfulness to our advantage when dealing with young children:
Clean up time:
Make it a game: “Let’s see how many toys we can pick up in three minutes!”
Make inanimate objects have feelings: “These toys are so sneaky! They don’t want to go into their boxes! Sneaky toys, you can’t hide from us! We are going to get you!”
Pretend: “Let’s pretend the toys are our treasure and we need to bury them before the pirates come and get them! Our toy box is invisible to pirates but not to us!”
Play the incompetent fool: Where do all these toys go? I know the dolls go in the back of the pick up truck! Right? No? They go in the red bin! I am so silly!”
Sing: Putting on some of your kids favorite tunes or just singing the clean up song can do wonders.
Make it a game: Tell everyone they are airplanes and they need to be ready for take off at a certain time.
Make inanimate objects talk: “Your bed is saying that you are too heavy! He wants you out right now! What you can’t hear him! Bed, you need to talk louder so Eli can hear you!”
Use silly voices and pretend: “I am your teacher, Mrs. M., I cannot teach you in bed today. I am very sorry! How can we color pictures when we are lying down in bed! Our crayons will get lost under all those covers. I need to teach you in our classroom!”
Play the incompetent fool: “Oh my goodness! Where can Sara be? I don’t see her getting dressed! Is she in her drawer? In the toy box? Is she in the closet? She is still in bed! Oh no!”
Make inanimate objects talk and use silly voices: Have the broccoli say, “Don’t eat me! I don't want to be in your dark stomach!” or “I am a pepper and I am very tasty. I think you will like me!”
Pretend: Have everyone imagine they are at a tea party or eating with King and Queen in a palace.
Play the incompetent fool: “I am not sure how to eat this! Where does this go? How is this going to get into my stomach? Through my ear?”
Make it a game: “Tonight is inside out night! Everyone needs to wear their pajamas inside out and sleep with their pillow on the opposite side of the bed! Let’s get ready and go!”
Make inanimate objects talk: Toothbrush- “Ugh, I don't want to go into your mouth. It is so wet and slimy in there. Do I really have to?”
Give silly choices: “Should we sleep upside down like bats or stand on one leg like flamingos?”
Pretend: “Let’s imagine we are out in the woods and we are camping tonight. Do you hear the owls hooting? Do smell the campfire…”
Be creative and fun and most of all enjoy playing you’re your kids!