Friday, June 19, 2009

Playful Parenting

I have a lot I want to say on this subject at some point in the future. But I'll make this one a quickie.

Sometimes we go into parenting situations full guns blazing, only to accidentally shoot ourselves in the foot with said fully blazing gun. Sometimes we expect conflict, so we start reacting as though there already is a conflict, and thus we bring one about.

I just did something similar. 2 minutes ago. And it could have ended in disaster. I went through to the livingroom to see that the kids had torn an egg carton into many pieces and spilled it on the floor (an "art project") and then emptied the contents of a box of penny pasta all over the floor and couch. And thrown in some pistachios to boot.

I handled it calmly, walked through and switched off the tv and informed the children they could watch a little bit more as soon as they've cleaned up the mess. Kaya went straight through and started cleaning. She's a rule sort of person. She likes to know where boundaries are and to stay inside them.

Lana, however, is more of a beat-of-your-own drum type and prefers to govern her own world. Fine, I'm the same was as her, I get that and love her for it. However, she does have to learn how to live in a society and get along with others and contribute equally.

I heard her switch the tv back on while Kaya was working her butt off cleaning up. So I loaded up my weapons and went in, "NO Lana, you can't watch tv! You'll be banned from tv for 2 days if you don't get in there and help your sister now. It's only fair, you helped make the mess!!" yell yell, bla bla. It only puts her off. I turned off the tv and sent her through. Her head was hanging low. She didn't seem like she had a lot of energy or ambition to start helping, and I anticipated she'd probably just flop herself down on the couch.

As Jasmine Star says - "because all posts are better with a pic"

But then Kaya piped in with, "Hey Lana, do you want to feed the hungry vacuum?"

Lana's face lit up. And she got to work picking up pieces and feeding them to the vacuum cleaner. And they're still both in there just now busy cleaning away and having a great time.

If only I had thought of that! So often if we just approach an issue from a playful point of view, we'll have a much easier time getting our kids to participate. Instead of saying, "put your shoes on NOW we're 5 minutes late!", why not try saying, "let's pretend our feet are 2 birds who have lost their feathers, and they're really cold. Let's pretend these shoes are the feathers, we'd better put them on really fast before the bird gets cold". Or instead of saying, "Brush. Teeth. Nowish" how about, "I found a magical toothbrush. If you rub it against your teeth 30 times on the top and bottom, a fairy comes out and grants a wish. Would you like to go try it!"

Kids really respond to it! I might think about making a challenge or something, because I certainly need to remember this more. Maybe if I had a graphic and an official challenge it would help me remember haha. Yelling at the kids less, and them contributing positively more can only be a good thing, right?


Laura Chisholm said...

perfectly put Niecey!

Anonymous said...

love it!



Kathie said...

Good thoughts, Niecey. I need to remember to bring out the fun fairy more often too. :-) It's so much more pleasant than yelling at kids--even if it takes a minute or two more.


Kinsleys4 said...

Isn't it awful how we become big, grown-up adults and forget the imagination of childhood? Great thoughts!

Momma Miller said...

Amen, sistah! My children are always more productive when I put an imaginative, playful spin on things.

By the way, have you read the book Playful Parenting???


Laura said...

Along the same lines, whilst in the middle of a struggle to get Logan to go potty before we left the house he was back talking to me "no I will NOT go on the potty!" a few times till he got confused and said "I WILL go on the potty!" - I burst out laughing and the struggle turned into a big giggle fest from there - I made a mental note to try to make similar situations into light-hearted giggle times.

Laura said...

I've been feeling the exact same way lately! :)

Kyleigh is responding better to me now than she ever has before. I've learned that making things fun or offering a reward for doing the thing she doesn't want to do (ie, "Please eat all your noodles so that you can have a cupcake when we're done!") to give her something to look forward to - just makes life easier.

And when she throws a tantrum and is mad or sad or upset, I used to say "You are NOT going to behave like this!!" and took her to her room to work off her tantrum. Now I sit her on my lap and say "Let's have a talk, Kyleigh. I understand that you are sad that we can't go to the park today, and I'm very sorry that you are sad. But Mommy has too many other errands to run today and we don't have time to go this time. But we will go later this week, and I'm very sorry that you are sad that we can't go now." And then, miraculously, the tears and tantrum stop and she's FINE!

When Kyleigh eats her dinner (usually meat that she doesn't want to eat) and we notice a bite disappear, we make a HUGE deal out of it. "Honey, did you see where that chicken went?" Matt : "No, I didn't!!" Me : "Kyleigh must be hiding it! Is it under her shirt? No ... Is it under the table? No ... Is it hiding somewhere?" And then she laughs and says "I ATE it!" We have gotten her to eat a lot of food this way!!

There are definitely some situations that call for running in with guns blazing, but we are learning that laughter diffuses a lot of situations far quicker than anything else.

I wish we had learned that earlier, for Kyleigh's sake.

SarahJeanie said...

Well said! So often we get caught up in our adult "cloud" we forget what it is like to be young. Making boring things fun is always a good thing! You are a great mom! I hope someday when I have kids I think like you!

Anonymous said...

I know I need to do this more often. Thanks for the reminder.