Have you ever stepped back to watch what really goes on when your children play? As psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen points out, play is children’s way of exploring the world, communicating deep 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–and help them to
• Express and understand complex emotions
• Break through shyness, anger, and fear
• Empower themselves and respect diversity
• Play their way through sibling rivalry
• Cooperate without power struggles
From eliciting a giggle during baby’s first game of peekaboo to cracking jokes with a teenager while hanging out at the mall, Playful Parenting is a complete guide to using play to raise confident children. Written with love and humor, brimming with good advice and revealing anecdotes, and grounded in the latest research, this book will make you laugh even as it makes you wise in the ways of being an effective, enthusiastic parent.
Tag, you’re it! In Playful Parenting, Lawrence Cohen demonstrates that parents need to lighten up and spend a few hours giggling with their kids. Play is inherently educational for children, he claims, and parents can learn plenty by examining the games kids play–from peekaboo to practical jokes.
Cohen is quick to point out that no matter what your child’s temperament, she has a playful side. In its most basic form, play is a way to communicate. The author examines, with plenty of hilarious personal anecdotes, the details of play at every age and across genders. From his daughter and a new male friend discussing how “cool” nuclear weapons are and how “gross” a love song is, to a younger child zooming full-speed around a park at a birthday party, we’re shown the exuberant truth behind playing: not only is it just plain fun, it can spark a variety of important sensations. One short section discusses the common phenomenon of happy giggling turning instantly to tears. Cohen suggests that “the fun play opens the emotional door to let out the giggles, and a flood of other feelings come pouring out after.” Some specific ideas for games are included, and you’ll find recommendations for everything from play wrestling to gentle storytelling. One chapter focuses on how to cope with play you don’t find enjoyable, and how learning to appreciate these games can lead to surprising emotional insights. This is where Cohen’s years of practice come in handy–it may be true that we all play, but not everyone immediately grasps the underlying messages. This is not simply a book filled with family activities, but rather an exploration of play for all ages. –Jill Lightner