Monday Mothering: Playful Parenting

Posted 23 December, 2013 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Reviews

Monday Mothering: Playful ParentingPlayful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen
Published by Random House Publishing Group on November 19th 2008
Genres: Family & Relationships, General, Life Stages, Parenting, School Age
Pages: 320

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.

Overall I really liked this book. It gives some incredible tips on becoming more engaged with our children and how play is the language that our children use to express and deal with big and small hurts, disappointments, and trauma. It’s definitely an extremely kid-centric theory of parenting. Much of the advice that Cohen gives is actually quite intuitive when you stop to think about it. 

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.

April @ The Steadfast Reader


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