Playful Parenting Book Discussion, Chapters 4-6
Welcome to the second discussion of Lawrence Cohen’s Playful Parenting. Today we are discussing chapters 4-6. Questions and scenarios for discussion are below, but please don’t feel limited by our talking points.
Chapters 4-6 Summary
Parents can encourage their children’s confidence and prepare them for “the world” using playfulness and nurturing. Instead of punishing “misbehavior,” Dr. Cohen asks parents to look for signs that a child is feeling powerless, is acting out in an imitation of power (pseudo-power), or is feeling down and self-critical.
For a parent who wants to use play to build closeness and confidence, giggling is a sure sign that you’re on the right track. You can use laughter to connect, to lighten a tense mood, to give a warning (instead of a consequence or punishment), or to make amends. Another tool in the playful parent’s toolbox is roughhousing. Wrestling and other physical play with a trusted adult can give children a healthy outlet to get undivided attention, and to deal with their fears, hesitations, impulses, and anger. Dr. Cohen offers several rules for safe, fair wrestling.
Chapter 4 Questions
1) In chapter 4, Dr. Cohen discusses power, pseudo-power, and powerlessness. Give some examples of how your child has exhibited each of these. For your pseudo-power and powerlessness examples, how have you reacted in the past? How could you react using playfulness?
2) On page 65, we read about the “stop and go” game. Many of the ideas in the gentle parenting series also involve play to avoid power struggles (i.e., brushing teeth, getting into the car seat, shopping). Think of a recurring power struggle in your house – how could you turn it into a game? If you tried it this week, report your experiences.
3) On page 67, it talks about following a child’s lead, especially in a win-lose situation. Give some examples of how kids might subtly show us their needs in these games.
4) Think of some ways to playfully address winning and losing.
5) Have you been listening for criticisms this week (either from you (regarding your child or yourself) or self-criticisms from your child’s mouth)? Every time you hear yourself start to criticize, stop. If you hear your child do it, express confidence in her. Is criticism common in your house? Is it harder to stop criticizing yourself or other people?
Chapter 5 Questions
1) What are your favorite ways to giggle with your kids?
2) On pages 84-85, Dr. Cohen describes some techniques to halt conflict between children. Can you think of playful techniques to avoid conflict?
3) Your assignment this week was to lose your dignity during play. What did you do and how did it work?
4) On pages 88-92, we read about how healthy it is to allow children to feel big emotions and to release pent-up feelings/fears. Do big emotions make you feel uncomfortable? If so, how can you make it easier to accept your child’s big emotions?
5) How else might children release pent-up emotions other than crying or tantrums?
Chapter 6 Questions
1) Do you have a child who likes to roughhouse? What kind of rules do you have in place to keep it safe and fun?
2) What can you do to bring a child back to playful roughhousing when that child has crossed over to aggression (without ending the play)?
3) Are you uncomfortable roughhousing? Do you find yourself resorting to tickling, needing to compete, or wanting to avoid injury? Why do you think that is? How can you work through it?
4) If all-out wrestling is too much for you to start with, think of another game that involves physical resistance that you can play with your child. Try it this week and tell us how it goes.
5) How can you introduce themes of nurturing, caring, love, and gentleness into aggressive games? Think of an example not in Playful Parenting.
Discussion Questions for Monday, October 4
The following questions are for you to think about and answer during the next week as you read chapters 7-9; stop by Code Name: Mama on October 4 to share them with the group. Please do not discuss them this week.
If you have been facing a specific challenging situation with your child and would like some PP input from the group, please contact me. Read the “gentle parenting suggestions guidelines” for ideas on what details to include.
1) “Benign neglect doesn’t empower children, it leaves them at the mercy of the best marketing money can buy- marketing that doesn’t just tell children what toys to purchase, but also how to play with them.” p. 113 Most of the toys that are out on the market today limit the use of children’s imaginations by having one intended use and little room for creativity to creep in. What types of play materials do you provide for your children that allow for open-ended play and the use of imagination? Are there items around your house that were never intended to be toys but make the best play things?
2) In Chapter 7 Dr. Cohen discusses the importance of storytelling. He says it is a way for children to “heal from their fears.” While retelling familiar stories such as The Three Little Pigs and Goldilocks work at times, children often need stories that mirror their scary experiences and have more depth. Are you a storyteller? What are some of the things that make you good at it? If you don’t feel like it is your strong point, where are you lacking most? Let’s share resources!! Storytelling is an art; do you have a favorite web site or book that has helped you become a better storyteller?
3) Many of the toys that children have encourage the divide between male and female roles and further isolate boys and steal girls’ power. Are there certain toys that your family does not allow for one of these reasons? How have your children responded to this? How have other family members or friends responded?
4) Based on Dr. Cohen’s information and the work of others that he cites, gender stereotypes are clearly alive and thriving. Do you remember experiencing any of the prejudices as a child that Cohen describes? How has it effected you in the long run?
5) Chapter 9 is introduced with the story of how Cohen misread his daughter’s messages when playing a game of freeze tag. Often times parents have to take on the part of decoder in order to help their child. How do you uncover what your child really needs from you? What subtle clues does your child give that lead you to the answer?
6) Challenge! Create a scheduled PlayTime everyday this week (or at least most of the days). Decide how much time you will devote to PlayTime and actually write it on your calendar. Give it a try for the week and share with us how it is going.
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