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Playful Parenting: An Exciting New Approach to Raising Children That Will Help You Nurture Close Connections, Solve Behavior Problems, and Encourage Confidence Paperback – April 30, 2002
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 mnage.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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It does take effort to get in the mood and get ready to tumble but the payoff is immense. And it's not been hours of play, it's injecting play in normal daily routines that has worked for me.
Just off the top of my head, after reading this book and taking some suggestions from it:
I never thought fake crying when my kids call me a "poopy-eyeball-head" would create such intense delight and connection with them - their giggles and laughter are incredible and their behavior after their play tanks are filled up is markedly different. Normally I would get increasingly stern when the kids start using the word "poopy" at the dinner table but we've made it one of our most common games and it's just fun.
They beg for me to play chase after shooting me with the "Love Gun" and the idea of making behavior that normally annoys me into a game was mind-blowing.
One day in a car full of whining I just answered "Quack" to everyone who tried to talk and everyone, including my husband, was in stitches by the end of what would have normally been a kids-whining-parents-yelling-everyone-grump-ride.
I start to tell one of my three young boys, "Oh, young man, you better not do ____. You will be in BIG TROUBLE." ( ___ being the behavior the situation calls for....like getting shoes on to leave the house) and they giggle with glee when I make a huge goofy show of just how much trouble they are in for. It doesn't feel manipulative like I feared - it's just a big game for everyone doing the right thing and an overall win/win. My kids LOVE seeing their very serious mom play act or be goofy. Just love it. The bigger and more dramatic the better. One time our youngest sat still during dinner and, in playful shock, my husband pretended to run into a door frame and fell down flat on the floor - the entire table was doubled over in laughter. I'm getting the giggles just thinking about it.
This book is really powerful and just what I needed as a parent. I was constantly feeling guilt for not being respectful or doing enough with my kids - I was often snappy and irritated with their behavior (when they were just kids wanting to play) and realized my interactions with my daughter were increasingly more negative than positive and I didn't know what to do. I tried to tell myself "be respectful, give them what they need" but it wasn't helping and I have charts of failed behavior trackers and self inventories to show that I did put in effort (the tracking tells you how serious I am of a person ha). This playful parenting mindset not only helped me be more respectful and have a better attitude, but I feel it got me out of my thinking head and on my kids' level - they crave and need play and that's what that book has helped me to give them. I need to edit that - it got me back in touch with a playfulness that is needed in all of us, kids and adult. Most adults have it beat out of them though, I sure know I did. With a playful attitude it's easier for me to be respectful and loving and supportive. In fact, it just happens effortlessly. The first week I implemented the suggestions from the book was the first week I inventoried a huge change in my behavior that hadn't budged despite intense desire and flowchart plans and reading many parenting books - I could honestly say I felt I had respected my kids and given them what they needed fully that week when I was simply playful. Life changer. (That's not to say the prep work of reading many parenting books didn't play into it, but this book at the very least got me over the final hump.)
Finally, I like that while he gives a huge amount of suggestions to play, it's not a flowchart (which, believe me, has its place) and allows parents to tap into their own creativity. Once you see the patterns in the games I found it easy to come up with ideas and like I said, the playful attitude alone can make a huge difference in any situation even if there's not a specific game or goal.
Cohen stresses over and over again the importance of actually connecting with our children. He stresses that physical engagement in play is not only appropriate, it's absolutely necessary. He recommends that we embrace types of play that we as adults may be uncomfortable with (such as gun play or aggressive play) as a way to allow kids to get it out of their system in a safe and understanding environment.
I'm skeptical about his thoughts on discipline. Naturally he's against corporal punishment, which I am in agreement with, but he also forgoes time-outs. He makes a compelling case that 'bad' behavior by children is a result of loneliness, confusion, or anger that they don't have the verbal capacity to express. So by sending a child to time out who is acting out because he is lonely, Cohen argues that the parent is actual compounding the problem. Instead he advocates 'Meeting on the Couch', it's a calm time where the parent reconnects with the child and tries to understand the child. That's all well and good, but where are consequences? I have Positive Discipline on my list to hopefully supplement some of this.
I felt like Cohen focused disproportionately on boy behavior. Also, there is little advice on how to deal with specific issues. I found this to be more a general parenting book.
Overall this book has some fantastic ideas, I would recommend taking a look.