Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Having children spaced 15 months apart has taught me a number of things, not the least of which is how important distraction can be. Instead of yelling, screaming or harshly disciplining my children in the midst of a brawl I offer a diversion for one or both of them. Not only does this work during a disagreement between them, but it also helps in other situations where patience may be hard to come by. Here is a list of ways that I distract my children playfully and the situations best suited to each technique.
Toys: Of course, this one is fairly easy. Many tears are shed over the lack of sharing of a toy and I am often called in as reinforcement. Depending on the situation, I may determine that one child or the other is going to take a turn to play with the toy, leaving the other child wanting for something. If it’s Piper, I usually look for the closest interesting thing be it another toy or a book and I will engage her in play with it in a way she is not necessarily used to. At other times, I will hold her and take her with me as I finish whatever I’m doing and she will usually forget about whatever problem she was experiencing.
If it’s Heidi, I will go through some elaborate questioning to determine what aspect of the toy she was most interested in and what other toy I can find for her that will meet that need. Within a matter of moments of actual conversation, I can usually change her mood completely. If I don’t find a toy that she is interested in, I’ll run through a long list of whatever items I can think of, making them sillier as I go on. That’s a sure fire way to bring a smile.
Actions: In some cases, I can distract Heidi by asking her to show Piper how to do something, rather than, say, dumping a bucket of water over her head. Alternatively, I can ask her to jump up and down, run in a circle, or perform some other action that physically changes whatever she was previously doing. Short of physically removing her from a situation, this is often the best way to help her modify her behavior while still allowing her to output all the intense energy she has. Thus, I like to do this when she is engaging in some sort of physical action that is less than pleasurable for another person (usually Piper) as it is often the fastest way to change.
“Hey, look at that!”: This is probably the best distracter of them all, one that has been used for eons in every situation imaginable. I was recently blessed by having my husband’s cats return to our residence after a nine month hiatus at my father-in-law’s house and have since used every opportunity that you can think of to say, “Hey, look! There’s Hagen!” or “Where’s Ccino?” So far, I have had about a 100% success rate with this method whereas saying “Look at the clouds!” or “Look at the train!” is not always fool-proof. At least these particular animals are good for something.
Singing: When all else fails, sing. For real. I find this to be most effective in the car, but it also helps at very odd times like in the bathtub, downtime during the day and waiting in the doctor’s office/waiting room. Singing is actually the only way I was able to make the last 20 minutes of my recent trips home in peace because Piper had finally had enough of sitting in the car and refused to go unnoticed any longer. I sang ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ at least 10 times in a row (because if I stopped, she immediately started crying again) and all was right with the world. I have also made up a song for each of them that I will often revert to when I cannot think of anything else to sing, but that doesn’t always work very well. I’m working on adding more variety to my repertoire.
In most cases where behavior is ill-timed or unwelcome from a child, taking a different perspective is all one really needs to do in order to change it. Getting a little creative with parenting does require more work than simply reacting to a situation, but the results are clear: your children will be happier. If you can use the art of distraction just a few times each day instead of the automatic yell or stern tone, you’ll notice it really isn’t difficult at all and it will be second nature in no time. Go ahead, distract away.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- On being a more playful parent — Isil at Smiling like Sunshine shares how the Playful Parenting book impacted her.
- Parenting a toddler through play — Alicia at I Found My Feet lists some examples of how she uses play to parent through everyday tasks and challenges.
- Splashing in Puddles — Abbie at Farmer's Daughter shares how she learned to get dirty and have fun with her little boy.
- Say Please — Cassie at There's a Pickle in My Life explains how they taught their son manners by "play," showing that actions speak louder than words.
- No Nanny Needed — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life wishes parenting through play was her only responsibility during the day.
- I'll Run Away With Gypsies — Nikalee at Spotted Pandemonium maneuvers physical and emotional obstacles while spinning playful tales, jumping through hoops, and inspiring the kids to clean the living room.
- A Promise To My Daughter — Lindsey at An Unschooling Adventure writes a poem for her daughter promising to use play instead of anger when facing difficult situations.
- Parenting Through Play — Not Always Easy But Always Rewarding — Amy at Peace4Parents discusses how play hasn't always come easily to her, the power of appreciative observation, and how her family learns together through play.
- Imagination Plays a Role in Our Parenting — Tree at Mom Grooves shares how parents can use play to set the foundation for communication and understanding.
- A Box of Crayons — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction talks about how a simple box of crayons has become a wonderful parenting and teaching tool.
- The Essential Art of Play — Ana at Pandamoly shares some of her favorite lessons available for young ones through play.
- The Art of Distraction — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro shares a list of distracting alternatives to harsh punishments in tough parenting situations.
- Grace and Courtesy Games at Home or School — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now has ideas for grace and courtesy games that help you encourage courteous behavior without reprimanding your child.
- I am woman, hear me roar! — Mrs Green from Little Green Blog shares how one simple sound can diffuse an argument in an instant.
- Getting Cooperation Through Play — Amyables at Toddler In Tow talks about respecting the worldview of a preschooler by using play to encourage connection and cooperation.
- Playful Parenting = Extra Energy?? — Momma Jorje didn't think she had the energy for playful parenting. See what she was surprised to learn…
- Dance Party Parenting — Laura from A Pug in the Kitchen learned how to be the parent her children need through play.
- Wrestling Saved My Life — Wrestling is as vital to her son's well-being as babywearing once was, finds Hannah at Wild Parenting.
- Parenting through play — By playing with her children, Tara from MUMmedia is given amazing opportunites to teach, train and equip her children for life.
- Parenting Through Play Starts in Infancy — In a guest post at Natural Parents Network, Issa from LoveLiveGrow shares that though she only has a 3-month-old, playful parenting has already started.
- Play Before Sleep — Adrienne at Mommying My Way writes about how playing and singing with her son before he falls asleep helps calm her frustrations that tend to arise at night.
- Playful Parenting — Or 5 Lessons My Son Has Taught Me About Parenting Through Play — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama has learned to be a better parent by following her toddler's lead in play.
- Hurry up! Hurry up! I mean it! Quack, quack, quack! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life leads a trail of ducklings
- On the Road: Learning to Play — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers her inner adult through a summer of playing with her children.
- Preventing Tantrums Through Play — Gaby at Tmuffin explains how she keeps her household happy by not taking things too seriously.
- Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play — Lily, aka Witch Mom, redirects unwanted behavior in a toddler using games and play.
- Exaggerating for effect — Lauren at Hobo Mama has learned how to ham it up.
- Handling Big Emotions with Role Playing — Zoie at TouchstoneZ plays at tempering her parental frustrations while helping her children handle some big emotions
- How To Herd Toddlers by Talking Pictorially — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama demonstrates how talking in pictures is a playful way to engage your young child in transitioning from one activity to the next.
- Getting a Toddler to Go Where You Want…Playfully — Sylvia at MaMammalia describes how a game of hide-and-seek can be used to steer a wandering toddler in the direction of her choosing.
- Playful Parenting: Chores That Do Themselves — Remember chores when you were a kid? If chores were this fun for Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey, she wouldn't have needed any reminders!
- Clown School Express: Playing away Fears — MudpieMama describes how she helped her boys confront their fears about starting kindergarten by playing with trains.
- Practicing Playful Parenting — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle realizes that playfulness is the best way through the day and seeks more ways to practice it.
- Today, Tomorrow and Every Day — Starr at Taking Time addresses her children in a letter sharing with them how improtant it is that they spend their childhood playing.
- Learning Through Immersion — Luschka at Diary of a First Child shares how she helps her daughter develop naturally without focusing on teaching, but rather by immersing her in their family's way of life and making her an active part of her environment.
- Play Here Now — Jessica at Instead of Institutions learns and relearns and tries to remember the value of play.
- Play: A Wonderful Parenting Tool — Mamapoekie from Authentic Parenting offers a list of examples on how to use play in real-life parenting situations.
- Playful Parenting — a Book Review — Erica at ChildOrganics shares simple yet sage advice from Dr. Cohen on how play can change your child's life.
- Mock Threats: Turning Real Frustration into Playful Parenting — Threatening is not an effective discipline strategy, but Dionna at Code Name: Mama explains how parents can turn their frustration into playful moments by making "mock threats."
- I'm Sick of Yelling — I Want to Play — Alicia at McCrenshaw's Newest Thoughts realizes she needs to change the way she's parenting and is forming a new plan.
- Sing-along, Brush-along Songs — Shana at Tales of Minor Interest shares a few songs to make brushing her three-year-old's teeth more fun.
- Monster Voice — Ever have those frustrating moments with your kid(s) when you just want to scream? Amy at Anktangle shares a silly strategy for getting through those difficult times.