Playful Parenting Book Discussion, Chapters 4-6

September 27th, 2010 by Dionna | 29 Comments
Posted in Book Discussions, Carnival and Special Series, Gentle Discipline Ideas, Successes, and Suggestions, Gentle/Positive Discipline, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity, Reviews and Giveaways

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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.

Chapter 7
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 Ch 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?

Chapter 8
1- 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?

2-Based on Dr. Cohen’s information and the work of others that he cites, gender stereotypes are clearly alive and thriving.  As a child do you remember experiencing any of the prejudices that Cohen describes?  How has it effected you in the long run?

Chapter 9
1- This chapter 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?

2-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.

29 Responses to:
"Playful Parenting Book Discussion, Chapters 4-6"

  1. Kelly

    Chapter 40- 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.

    My daughter (3yo) LOVES a challenge. We have found that many if not most of our struggles can be turned playful with a challenge. Simply saying I’m going to catch you before you get into the house, or I bet you cant get in your carseat before I get to the number 5 (not “counting” in the negative warning sense, just giving a time challenge), or there is NO way you can brush your top AND bottom teeth tonight will get her gears moving and turn the tides making her feel all mighty when she meets the challenge.

    • Our Sentiments   oursentiments

      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.

      K had a splinter, she is afraid of the tweezers. I told her that since the splinter is hurting her, we will take it out and she can help me. I told her that she can tell me to stop and go, we can make it fun. Did not work. Then I tried to get her to take a pretend splinter out of my hand. I tried pretending to do it on her hand. She would not have any of it… So I ended up taking it out when she was sleeping. BUT it does not detour me from trying again, that was just the first opportunity that I was on-the-ball and remembered.

      • Kelly

        Good for you ! Stick with it mama! I think it takes time for children to build trust into a new game. Persistance will pay off.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        I think the important part is that you tried! You were trying to give her more power over the removal and the tweezers – it will help her have more trust the next time you need to use them.

  2. Dionna   CodeNameMama

    I’m going to answer a few of the questions in separate comments – feel free to jump in with your own answers by clicking “reply.”

    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.
    Kieran loves to play Yahtzee, but he will often keep rolling and rolling (and rolling!) the dice until he actually gets a Yahtzee (rather than just rolling 3 times). At first, I got annoyed – “but those aren’t the rules!” Pfft – he could care less, one of his joys is throwing his arms in the air and saying “YAHTZEE!!” So now I just go with it – sometimes we get really goofy and count how many rolls it takes, sometimes I act like I’m falling asleep, etc. If it’s that important to him to “win” a yahtzee, I’m ok with it.

    • Kelly

      That sums up how we play Memory- Willow picks and picks till she gets a pair. All of our pairs go in one pile so as not to have a winner and loser.

  3. Dionna   CodeNameMama

    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?
    My dad was a pretty stoic man when I was growing up, and I’ve caught some of that from him. And like many people my age, we were also not “allowed” to display our own big emotions – we were more likely to get a “I’ll give you something to cry about” than a “I see you’re feeling upset about that.” ;)
    So having Kieran scream about something is pretty hard for me. The *hardest* place to hear it is in the car, and oh.my.goodness do I ever hear it in the car. He HATES the car. Always has. Whenever we are on the highway, I’m sure to be regaled by cries and frustrations – “I want OFF the highway! I don’t WANT to be on the highway! When will we be home?!”
    Sometimes I’m able to playfully get his mind off of it, sometimes I very harshly tell him that his screaming is distracting.
    I’m not sure how to be gentle/playful more often – it gets SO OLD!

    • Kelly

      Have you tried the tried and true car games? I spy, rhyme time? Have you tried to beat him to the punch- AHHHHHH, the highway!!! GET ME OFF THIS HIGHWAY! K- how much longer?- lol

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        Oh yes. Games, singing, stories, etc. Usually if I tell him silly stories it’s enough to drive around the city, but it can get sooooo ooooold ;)

    • I have found that music and singing are must-haves for the car. Yes it might get old listening to the same Sesame Street characters singing the same songs every time I’m in the car, but it’s better than my child complaining the whole way. Sometimes I start singing along (much to his amusement) and then he might start bopping his head or “singing” too. It can be fun.

    • shannon

      my kid, until recently had always been a nightmare in the car. it is so hard…i can really relate. i always have snacks and drinks in the car to make sure he cant complain about that and i hacve a couple of kids cd’s that i use sometimes, but not all the time because i want to listen to my music in the car too. i really try to empathize if he is upset about us not being home yet and i even throw in my feelings too sometimes although i dont know if he really cares. this is especially true in traffic. i have cried several times in traffic due to my own frustration and his non-stop fussing. i usually say something to the effect of ” i know you want to be home honey and i am sorry that we have to spend a little more time in the car right now. mommy really wants to be home too”. then the hard part is letting him have his feelings anyway. even though i empathize i know he still has a right to his feelings…even if i dont want to hear it at that time!

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        We do talk a lot about why Kieran doesn’t want to be in the car. We figured out one problem he had – he was looking out the side window, and it was making him feel sick. So we’ve talked about only looking out of the front (he is forward facing – I think rear facing made him feel sick too).
        He has also expressed that the traffic scares him (we live in a pretty big city, so we do get quite a bit of traffic).
        I am so glad that we’ve taken time to talk about it – I know the reasons he gets upset and can help him deal with them.

  4. Our Sentiments   oursentiments

    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?

    Power: When K accomplishes a new milestone that she has been frustrated with for several weeks. Or when she finds out she can do something new and shows us.

    Pseudo-Power: I find this often when I am working and have other children around that I have to tend too and she wants my attention as well. It’s frustrating on both sides. I want to be tentative to her and her needs, but other children need me as well. It’s so hard to be in two places at once (I kiss the feet of mothers with more than one). I try to get her to ‘help’ me so we are doing something together. Sometimes I get the sense that she feels lowered in importance.

    Powerlessness: I often find this during times of change or tiredness, it’s the smallest things that I know she can do but she says she can’t/wont try. It’s hard to not get wrapped up in it as well. She sometimes picks these times to want to do something that is not within age range, like do her older sister’s puzzle, write her name EXACTLY. On a perfect day, I explain to her that asking for help is good, and that anytime she needs help I will be there for her, and I help her, or ask her how I can help

  5. On roughhousing-
    My son loves roughhouse play. He really seems to have a great need for roughhouse play every day. I am fairly comfortable roughhousing with him, but certainly my comfort level and my husband’s comfort level are quite different and we have different “rules” (if one could even call them that, I don’t really feel like we have any set rules when it comes to playing at home).

    For example, my husband is perfectly ok with my 2 year old hitting him during roughhouse play. I find hitting during play to be totally unacceptable and whenever he hits me during play I either (a) remind him to have gentle hands, I don’t like being hit, hitting hurts; or (b) remind him to hit the pillow only, not people. If he continues to be more aggressive than I am comfortable with I typically stop participating with the game, thereby ending the play, at least for a short time. This crossover from roughhousing to aggression is something I do struggle with a lot.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Since reading the roughhousing chapter, I have made a conscious effort to start playing more physically with Kieran. After I read the chapter, I introduced the concept of wrestling to him – we’d never used the word “wrestle” before, and we talked about rules (for example, we have a rule that we can’t put hands on face/neck, which he tends to do ;)). He has asked to wrestle just about every day, it’s been great!
      I actually really like this way of connecting, usually I’m the “soft” one, and so the role reversal has been invigorating.

  6. shannon

    i really enjoyed this part of the book especially the idea of letting kids practice on you so they arent mean to other kids. i hadnt really thought of it that way before. i am really grateful to hear these ideas about aggressive play not teaching kids to be aggressive to others and helping them experiment with their power safely. although i have always been comfortable with pretty rough play i never thought of it as a way to work through our feelings (except maybe sports).
    since i am very pregnant at the moment i prefer to play softer games like “i’m gonna beat you to the potty, front door, etc” or kick the ball or ” cant get me” and leave the rougher stuff to daddy. my son seems very comfortable asking for more of the type of play he likes and changing the game when he wants something else. he asks to be tickled often, but we dont hold him down we just poke and jiggle.
    i grew up roughhousing and i do remember feeling out of control when an adult was just being too much…it causes more frustration and i think made me more likely to be too rough with my little brother. i will be very interested to see how we can incorporate these play exercises when the new baby comes to help with his feelings about the baby.
    also, in her book michelle duggar said that she doesnt really use time out because she does exercises to teach her kids patience and kindness. i didnt really understand what she meant until i read chapter 6 and he explained how you can teach thru games. genius really because all the talking i do doesnt seem to make much of a difference!

    • Kelly

      Shannon-with regards to bigger people taking a child’s power when roughhousing I know what you mean. My brother and I wrestled a lot as kids and I can so clearly remember the times when he wouldn’t give me a chance OR when we would play fox and rabbit and he would trap me inside the sleeping bag while he was outside- scary and frustrating!!!

      It isn’t fun when someone else has all the power. My daughter (3) and I play a game to get her dressed (DAILY… thought it would die out by now but I guess it is just SO fun-lol) where I have to chase her and if I catch her I she has to put on one piece of clothing- chase again, another piece… Lately she has been going behind the couch during our game. I can’t fit back there and I can TOTALLY see how when one person takes the power, the fun is lost. When she takes the power and it is impossible for me to get her it is no longer fun for me (its about her, I know. And this may be a healthy way for her to use some strong power).

      • shannon

        agreed. and i cant fit behind the couch right now either! i had to put tables blocking it so he cant go back there!

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        Kelly that is SUCH a great game!! In fact – I’d love for you to write a post about the game and how it relates to power. I am totally trying that with Kieran (who never wants to get dressed).

      • Kelly

        Dionna- sure thing! Willow actually made up the game and is so good about putting on the one piece of clothing when I catch her. Its like we have a deal!

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’d love for you to give some of the examples Duggar does to teach patience/kindness!

  7. I’m still in this, I just had a lot of dental work done including a pulled tooth (poor me, lol). Just wanted to let you know I’m not slacking ;).

  8. Sara   FamilyOrganic

    Chapter 5
    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?

    This is something I’ve been working on with the twins. My initial response to tantrums (which we’ve just started having), was to try to stop it as quickly as possible. So I would say, ‘You’re ok’ and try to get them to look at a book, find the ball, etc. I’ve recently tried to do more of the offer a hug (which is often refused, but sometimes not) and say, “You are upset because you dropped the toy.” More of a statement of the problem than a the invalidation of “You’re ok”. This does work better, I have to say. The problem is if they are upset because, say, I’m nursing the other twin… then I can’t offer a hug because I can’t get to the other kid without delatching the first (causing he/she to cry). I have been doing better with letting the kiddo get all the way through the tantrum though, rather than trying to stop it. They do seem to feel better afterwards. Although my poor son has decided to beat his head against hard surfaces (wall, crib, floor) during tantrums, which of course hurts him, and then he cries more because he’s hurt. Not sure what to do about that. :(

    • shannon

      sometimes my son taps his head on the floor or wall and looks at me if he is upset at me. i just tell him please dont hurt eli because i love eli, but i am not sure exactly what to do about that either.
      as far as the tantrums what came to my mind was from “the happiest toddler on the block” he has a method where say he is upset because he wants something and you said. you say “you want you want you want that_____” and you say it based on how upset he is…the more upset he is the more emphatic you are and as he calms down you bring it down too. then you can end closer to something like “mommy knows you want to go outside, but right now we have to ____”. the idea is that once he feels heard and feels like you really understand the problem he can calm down. this does work with my son and might be something you can do more easily if your hands are tied because you are taking care of your other baby.
      its really hard for me to let him have his big emotions sometimes because i want to soothe him, calm him, etc, but sometimes i also tell him if you need to cry thats ok.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I’m glad you brought that phrase up, Sara. Aldort talks about invalidating kids with “You’re ok!” – I had never really thought about it until I read “Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves.” But how true! I wouldn’t want someone to say to me – when I’m obviously upset and hurting – “oh hush, there’s nothing wrong, you’re ok!”

      As far as the twin who bangs his head during tantrums – could you give him a pillow to bang on? Or could you move (while nursing) down to his level and put an arm or leg under his head?
      Does anyone else have ideas for Sara?

  9. Heather   xakana

    Losing all dignity in play–the other day, my best friend called me up and asked if we wanted to go on a picnic. We went to a small park and we had our picnic. When we had eaten the main course, it was chilly and the best way to get rid of being chilly? To move and PLAY of course!

    So I got up and ran around like I was a kid again, did all the equipment and we played hide and seek (yes, my best friend, too) until we all fell down laughing at some point and we just played until we didn’t have any energy left. Cramming ourselves into little places on the equipment (my favorite part was when my best friend got herself snug in a bend of the slide and I snuck up on the bottom and called out “boo!” making her shriek and fall out laughing), trying not to give away our spots by giggling, throwing leaves in the air, not worrying about the bits of playground mulch sticking to my jacket when I fell over laughing…

    It was a lot of fun. Lilly didn’t want to go at the end (but it was too cold to stay any more!) so I asked her to help out with loading the car instead and off she went. Naomi left saying, “Bye! Bye!” and I joined her with, “Bye-bye park!” which she repeated perfectly.

    Then we went on a drive through the caves where my BFF works and when we got home, the kids had zero problem going and playing in the other room while we watched some shows together.

    Playing was the best part of the day and we all had a great time, forgot our troubles, forgot about being adults and what adults aren’t supposed to do (as in, climb all over a playground like little kids, lol) and just had a great day.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Excellent story Heather!
      The other day Kieran and I went to the park and I was so impressed – at least 2 other parents were all out running/playing/chasing with their kids. Kieran saw them and so of course I had to join in ;) My favorite thing to do is definitely *not* running around play structures, but we did have fun.

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