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Playful Parenting [Kindle Edition]

Lawrence J. Cohen
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.95
Kindle Price: $8.02
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Sold by: Random House LLC


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Book Description

Parents have heard that play is a child's work--but play is not for kids only. As psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., demonstrates in this delightful new book, play can be the basis for an innovative and rewarding approach to parenting. From eliciting a giggle during baby's first game of peek-a-boo to cracking jokes with a teenager while hanging out at the mall, Playful Parenting is a complete guide to using play to raise strong, confident children.

Have you ever stepped back to watch what really goes on when your children play? As Dr. Cohen points out, play is children's complex and fluid way of exploring the world, communicating hard-to-express feelings, getting close to those they care about, working through stressful situations, and simply blowing off steam. That's why "playful parenting" is so important and so successful in building strong, close bonds between parents and children. Through play we join our kids in their world. We help them express and understand deep emotions, foster connection, aid the process of emotional healing--and have a great time ourselves while we're at it.

Anyone can be a playful parent--all it takes is a sense of adventure and a willingness to let down your guard and try something new. After identifying why it can be hard for adults to play, Dr. Cohen discusses how to get down on the floor and join children on their own terms. He covers games, activities, and playful interactions that parents can enjoy with children of all ages, whether it's gazing deep into a baby's eyes, playing chase with a toddler, fantasy play with a grade schooler, or reducing a totally cool teenager to helpless laughter.

Playful Parenting also includes illuminating chapters on how to use play to build a child's confidence and self-esteem, how to play through sibling rivalry, and how play can become a part of loving discipline. Written with love and humor, brimming with good advice and revealing anecdotes, and grounded in the latest research, Playful Parenting will make you laugh even as it makes you wise in the ways of being a happy, effective, enthusiastic parent.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews Review

Tag, you're it! In Playful Parenting, Lawrence Cohen demonstrates that parents need to lighten up and spend a few hours giggling with their kids. Play is inherently educational for children, he claims, and parents can learn plenty by examining the games kids play--from peekaboo to practical jokes.

Cohen is quick to point out that no matter what your child's temperament, she has a playful side. In its most basic form, play is a way to communicate. The author examines, with plenty of hilarious personal anecdotes, the details of play at every age and across genders. From his daughter and a new male friend discussing how "cool" nuclear weapons are and how "gross" a love song is, to a younger child zooming full-speed around a park at a birthday party, we're shown the exuberant truth behind playing: not only is it just plain fun, it can spark a variety of important sensations. One short section discusses the common phenomenon of happy giggling turning instantly to tears. Cohen suggests that "the fun play opens the emotional door to let out the giggles, and a flood of other feelings come pouring out after." Some specific ideas for games are included, and you'll find recommendations for everything from play wrestling to gentle storytelling. One chapter focuses on how to cope with play you don't find enjoyable, and how learning to appreciate these games can lead to surprising emotional insights. This is where Cohen's years of practice come in handy--it may be true that we all play, but not everyone immediately grasps the underlying messages. This is not simply a book filled with family activities, but rather an exploration of play for all ages. --Jill Lightner

From Publishers Weekly

"Pretend... that we're really gonna be late and you're really mad," Emma, daughter of psychologist and play therapist Cohen, whispered one morning, cleverly transforming their morning ritual his grumpy attempt to get her off to preschool into a fun game. According to Cohen, children of all ages have an ongoing need for connectedness, security and attachment; playful interaction with parents is an important way to develop such bonds. Through play, parents can help their kids develop greater confidence, express bottled up or difficult feelings, recover from daily emotional upheavals, negotiate agreements, express love and not least have fun. In his therapy practice, Cohen has used play to help both severely troubled and securely attached kids negotiate the daily travails of life; he demonstrates how to prevent and address serious problems with silliness and laughter. Cohen acknowledges that it is sometimes difficult for busy and harried parents to relearn play, and that playtime is both physically challenging and tiring. However, using examples from his practice, research and personal experience, he intelligently guides parents through the possibilities awaiting them if they are willing and able to loosen up. The book explores play with compassion, but is often so funny that parents will find themselves chortling out loud with recognition and anticipation. Agent, Josh Horwitz. (On-sale date: May 29)Forecast: Cohen takes his practice on the road for a five-city author tour, which should help convince the Scrooge-like of play's primacy. His lessons on the deflection of anger are applicable beyond the m‚nage.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1435 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 4893613316
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (November 19, 2008)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001LOEG04
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,531 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
309 of 314 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource for parents kids aged 3 and up September 21, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The premise of the book is that children need a strong connection with their parents in order to have good self-esteem, self-confidence, happiness and good behavior. The author is a play therapist that feels that the key to getting and staying connected with our children aged three through the teen years is through play. If you think your child has great behavior then following the ideas in this book will still help foster close connections and reduce the minor issues such as whining, begging, etc. The author contends that simply by spending time playing with our children with the child in control of the nature of the play, that a strong connection can be made. Specific ideas for play "tactics" are given when the parent wants to solve some particular problem or fear. This book is not just for "problem kids" who have sought professional counseling with the author.
The gist of the book is that at about age 3 and up children are in the play mode, they like to play, want to play, need to play. They also at this time live in a world where they feel powerless or isolated at least some of the time, even in the best family situations. The theory is that they have "cups" that fill with love and sometimes when feeling isolated or powerless the cups run low and need refilling. When the cup is low the negative behaviors begin. The author feels that at these ages 3 through teen years, the fastest and most effective way to fill the love cup is by playing with your children. Most of his examples are with the work he has done with his child and his patients. He tells of certain games that can be played to overcome
this or that, such as how to deal with the child who wants to play guns and shoot at the parent, how to deal with swearing, what to do when the child is hyper and aggressive, etc.
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194 of 198 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars playing with dinosaurs driving you crazy? read this ! August 22, 2001
By Pia
I had thought a lot about what parenting was going to mean for me and how I was going to go about it. I read a lot of different books covering all areas in great detail and discussedit with my partner. When my son arrived the experienced surpassed the greatest of expectations. Being the mother to a baby was just wonderful. BUT THEN one day, our baby was a boy who wanted to PLAY. He really showed that he needed me to get down on the floor and PLAY with him and his toys. I was totally unprepared for this. I could do it for a bit, but then after a while I was exasperated and he was restless. After some time of games like putting all the farm animals in the correct part of the plastic barn and pretend feeding them and putting them to sleep, it was just SO BORING and I couldn't think of what to do next. I felt terribly guilty about checking my watch throughout and then I felt like I was the most boring and unimaginative person ever. I felt there was obviously some wonderful world of fantasy and fun he was in which I as an adult had lost. For the first time I felt disconnected from him. After a few pages of this book, I got down on the floor with my son and played with gusto. I loved it and I could tell that my son was enjoying it. He was only one year and a half at the time. His eyes lit up and at the end of one game that same afternoon he really just looked at me into my eyes with some new curiosity and he stopped repeatedly and intermittently to give me huge hugs in a way which he had never done before.They were not the regular cuddly hugs, but more like "this is new, we're having fun together aren't we?" hugs. We'd started a new way of being together. Read more ›
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102 of 106 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is a great book! It provides a refreshingly new look at how to connect with your children and have fun while you're doing it.
After reading numerous parenting books, I can recite the usual themes - set realistic limits, provide praise when merited, focus criticism on behavior and keep it brief, be honest, offer choices, blah, blah, blah. They're all good points, but being a responsible parent should not be all there is. Most parenting books ignore the importance of having fun with your children. It's something we're all supposed to just HAVE in our relationships with our children, and then we're disappointed when it's not there as often as we would like.
PLAYFUL PARENTING transcends these usual parenting shibboleths and supplies lessons on how to accomplish something we all yearn for - connection and fun! This book provides simple, easy to use techniques for connecting with your children and having fun while you do it. Like Dr. Doolittle with animals, Dr. Cohen understands the different language that children speak. That language is play. He explains that we need to learn to speak that language if we're going to connect with our children and be truly effective. As adults, we too often lapse into lectures and explanations (sound familiar?) when a playful approach will make us a more effective teacher. Typical of strategies provided in the book is one I now use with my children. Whenever they use some provocative word like "poopyhead" (or something much worse), I respond by saying in a conspiratorial tone "Well, you can say that if you want, but don't ever, EVER, say zoogililoo". Of course, they immediately say it, we all laugh, they get over the need to provoke, and we've connected in a knowing way.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fantastic book for those looking to connect with, rather than coerce their children, super helpful.
Published 4 days ago by Kirsty Noble
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book.
This book reminds you how to parent in many ways that connect you with your kids, instead of simply disciplining them. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars An approach we can live with
We've read several different parenting books this year and this one was the most practical and enjoyable- playful parenting is definitely worth the effort before other forms of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by comfy shoe fan
5.0 out of 5 stars Joyous and playful
Playful Parenting is a fabulous book that makes you see things differently. By exploring play and seeing the world more through a child's eyes, I found some very useful strategies... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Cherri Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource!
This is an engaging, well organized book that you can learn from even if you can only spare 15 minutes here and there, like many busy parents. Read more
Published 3 months ago by eaAK
5.0 out of 5 stars Great approach to raising healthy, happy, and confident kids!
This book, written by a play therapist, introduces parents to the power of play for connecting with your children. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Rose S. Chang
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
I've read this book several times and recommended it several more. Some of the focus is on how to use playfulness to connect and work through challenges, but it goes far beyond... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read for parents
Great book for parents trying to find a peaceful way to connect with their child, and address underlying issues the effect behavior before it becomes a discipline issue. Read more
Published 4 months ago by daniellesab
5.0 out of 5 stars Erika
I find very good solutions on this book to put some limits for children in ways that won't disrespect them.
Published 5 months ago by erikast
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend this book
Really appreciated this book so many practical tips, age appropriate information for a wide range of ages, humorous and empathetic towards the many challenges of parenting. Read more
Published 5 months ago by kirstykf
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More About the Author

Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD, is a licensed psychologist, author, speaker, and consultant. His book, Playful Parenting, was the winner of the NAPPA GOLD AWARD for parenting resources, and has been translated into several languages--look for the Hungarian and Czech translations coming soon. Playful Parenting is also available as an audiobook. Larry is also the co-author of two books about children's friendships, popularity, and social cruelty. His book on rough and tumble play, The Art of Roughhousing, was published by Quirk Books, and co-written with Anthony DeBenedet, MD.His most recent book is The Opposite of Worry, from Ballantine Books. In addition to his private practice of psychotherapy and play therapy, Larry is a frequent speaker at schools and community groups, and he serves on the advisory boards of Playskool and of the Blue School in New York City. He lives in Boston, MA, USA. Learn more at or

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Topic From this Discussion
Regulating too much play dates and sleepovers
I remember playing everyday with my best friends after school. Of course, it wasn't called a play date back then. We just played until dinner when we were called inside to eat. On the weekends we often had sleep overs. It was so much fun, and I still keep in touch. Think back to when you were... Read More
Jun 30, 2010 by Nic |  See all 2 posts
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