Peaceful Parenting Part One: The Power Of Play
Peaceful Parenting Part One: The Power Of Play
Today I'm writing about play. Do you play with your kids? Are you a playful parent? I've been thinking about this a lot lately especially with another little one on the way. When I chat with parents about the work I do, my goal for them is to feel encouraged and thrive as a parent. I want them to find and create special moments with their children and play is such a great way to do that.
Play is so important for children. It helps them develop skills that they will use for the rest of their lives. Play eases stress and helps create a fun environment for us to connect with our children, grow our relationship and make fun memories.
“Play is the work of the child”. - Maria Montessori
Playing is how kids communicate, how they learn to navigate relationships and the world. It helps them grow physically, mentally and emotionally. Our children desire to play constantly. Whether we're out at a coffee shop, getting the groceries, cooking dinner or at the park. The whole world is their playground and playing is how they learn.
It's important for us as parents to take the time to also engage and play with our children, even the ones who seem independent and can play on their own. In playing with them we are allowing for that relationship to build, we gain trust and are letting our child know that they matter.
As busy as our lives can get sometimes I encourage you to play. I can speak from experience in this, when I have a busy work week and don't spend as much time playing with our daughter she acts out, throws tantrums and we have a very difficult week. It's her way of getting out her frustrations and emotions that she is still learning how to deal with. On the weeks where I do play with her more often and spend that one on one time with her, we have fantastic days because she is more able to work through her frustrations and emotions while we are playing and spending that time together.
Not only am I playing with her and having fun making memories but I am also teaching her that I am here for her and listen to her. Many problem children I have interacted with are a result of their parents ignoring them. They act out in order to get a response - good or bad. And I know as busy moms it can be tough to give our children that undivided attention. Especially when you're working on something with a deadline and all you hear every two minutes it's "Mom! Mom! Mom! Look at this! Mom! Mom! Mom!".
Playing with our kids is so important but it isn't always easy. I have a new business and a new baby on the way. My morning sickness has had me bedridden and exhausted for months now, and if I seriously have to play 'dinosaurs making soup' one more time I am going to lose my mind. But I do it anyway because I know how much she loves it and it always turns into her telling me something about her day. And I love that. I know she enjoys playing because we get to connect and share something together.
Play & meltdowns/tantrums
As briefly mentioned above, tantrums and meltdowns happen more often when our children are frustrated and don't have a proper outlet to express themselves. I want to suggest something to you that you may think is crazy but hear me out. When Your child is having a melt down yes, address it how you normally would, if they throw or hit and your regular punishment for that is a time out by all means follow through. But rather than disciplining and addressing the issue then going back to what you were doing before, try to invite your child to play with you.
Do I sound crazy? Are you thinking "My kid just hit my dog and you want me to play with my child? isn't that rewarding them for bad behavior?" No, it's actually opening the door and giving them the opportunity to fix what they did wrong with something positive rather than focusing in on the bad behavior. Instead, explain "We don't hit Hank, we be nice to Hank and play with him. Hank likes to play" and then maybe grab a ball and play with both your child and the dog. Remembering to choose to connect and play with your child is so much more effective.
A HUGE problem we have in our house is getting our daughter to sit nicely and eat her food at the table. She's always "too busy" to sit at the table with us and eat. If she could have it her way she would run around the kitchen like a wild beast and only stop at the table to grab a bite of her prey as she ran off to the next thing. I get very very frustrated with this, especially after taking time to prepare and make the meal only to have it go cold or get tossed across the room. I handle it in a disciplinary way and give her an ultimatum: she can sit and eat her food or spend the rest of the night in time out. Which, unfortunately for a mom of a two-year-old seriously doesn't go very well, - ever.
My husband on the other hand, turns meal time into game. She will sit with him and eat her food because he's turned it into play. They will cheers their cups, clink their forks and chew their food like lions. She sits so nicely and doesn't fight it because he is playing with her, focusing on her and listening to her. Often times when she won't eat and I have no idea why, she will play this 'food game' with Dada and within minutes will tell him she isn't hungry or that she thinks the food is to spicy or something. She feels safe from playing with Dad and communicates what the problem is.
Of course there are going to be many times that play isn't going to fix the problem or the tantrum but incorporating play during those teaching moments or allowing play to help your child express them self is such a healthy experience and good for both you and your child.