Playful Parenting Book Discussion, Chapters 7-9
Welcome to the third discussion of Lawrence Cohen’s Playful Parenting. Today we are discussing chapters 7-9. Questions and scenarios for discussion are below, but please don’t feel limited by our talking points.
Chapters 7-9 Summary
Children are inherently in a position of limited power. Almost every daily activity is dictated to them by an adult. having an opportunity to “reverse the roles” provides children with an opportunity to work through troubles, problem solve, and build confidence. In giving up this power, the adult is free to follow the child’s lead. When the child leads they can move the play to a place that most benefits them.
Our culture has created clear male/female roles that in many ways limit both sexes. in order to limit the negative effects of gender stereotypes on young girls and boys, Cohen suggests that girls must be supported in spreading their wings and boys in laying down roots.
Chapter 7 Questions
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) Beginning on page 119 Cohen discusses using play to overcome fear. Often times when a parent has a fear they tend to pass it on to their child. It could be as simple as fear of spiders or more extreme like an overbearing fear of the child getting hurt. Reflect on possible fears that you have passed onto your child. How can you face these fears and then help your child face them?
4) Take note of where your child is in terms of fantasy play. How often does he/she use dramatic (fantasy) play? What are the themes in his/her dramatic play? How is this a reflection of his development or struggles? How can you take the play to the next level?
5) On page 127 Dr. Cohen makes the profound statement that, “Most toys are junk, by which I mean they can do only one thing, over and over. Great toys, like good dramatic play, allow children to make the world of their own and allow full expression of their creativity.” Let’s brainstorm a list of open-ended, non-commercial toys or items that promote free, creative play.
Chapter 8 Questions
1) What was your reaction to what Dr. Cohen refers to as the tabletop studies? Were you surprised by the findings?
2) What challenges do you face when entering the play of your child who is the opposite sex as you are (mothers with sons, fathers with daughters)? Do you find that the gender roles that have been engrained in you get in the way? How do you make the connection?
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) After reading this chapter take a look at your child’s toys. How do they block your child from his or her fullest potential (isolation for boys and powerlessness for girls)?
5) 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 Questions
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) Doing whatever they want to do can be difficult. It’s not always something you enjoy and you don’t always have the time or energy, yet it can be instrumental in helping your child develop to his/her full potential and work through difficulties. If these are some of the main goals of parents, how can we change our paradigms and make play the priority? What tasks can you put further down the list so that play can move closer to the top?
3) On page 159 Cohen urges the reader to examine his/her practice by separating our fears from actual danger. As you go though your week, take opportunities to ask yourself “why”. Why am I saying no? Is it truly dangerous? What would the consequences be? Is my child better served by my limiting the activity, or allowing him/her to learn from it? Make an effort to become more conscious of the value of your safety measures.
4) For parents of more than one child, how do you ensure that both or all of your children receive time to play with you? How do you attend to the play needs of one while meeting the needs of the other(s)?
5) 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.
Discussion Questions for Monday, October 11
The following questions are for you to think about and answer during the next week as you read chapters 10-12; stop by Code Name: Mama on October 11 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) Let’s discuss “gentle pushes” – can you give some examples that have worked for you?
2) Does your child like to make up games with “rules”? What kinds of rules have you had to follow? Can you connect these rules to something that might be happening in your child’s life?
3) Are you good at turning aggression into play? Or have you ever had a positive experience? If so, please share your tips and tricks with us, or just share that one experience. Let’s all learn from it!
4) What is the hardest part for you of letting children feel their strong emotions? Is it when you are out in public? Is it hearing their tears and screams? Is it not being in control? What do you usually do when your child is upset? What can you do to feel more accepting of your child’s strong feelings?
5) How do YOU handle big emotions?
6) Have you ever handled whining playfully? What methods have been most/least successful?
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