My number 1 confession is… I am TERRIBLE at reading parenting books. We own a bunch. I pick them up, read a bit, skim a bit, I’m done. Oops.
Anyways, there is this wonderful book, Playful Parenting. I’ve read some, skimmed some… but I’ve never actually read the whole book. So, that is my disclaimer. That, and, my parenting is and will always be a work in progress. But, I wanted to share my work in progress, for someone who is not so familiar with parenting in this way and perhaps someone who doesn’t like instructional books much, like me. I feel under qualified to share, but I also want to share what works for us.
Anyways, I have found one of the best ways to deal with an undesirable task, or really anything in life with my kids, is to turn it into a game. Right now, the kids and I are in Pennsylvania for a friend’s wedding and visiting family. My bride-to-be friend was over tonight and it was time for the kids to go to bed. I KNEW this wouldn’t be very fun, so I warned them that bed time was coming up. Then, my friend and I got Reed and Lena’s pajamas and “put them on” (shoved our arms in them and I put Reed’s pajamas pants over my foot). Then, we went in and we told them that they needed to put us to bed. I kind of expected them to actually try to put us to bed, tucking us in, etc. which would have been fun and totally fine. I would have gotten up a minute later and they probably would have transitioned well. But, instead Reed and Lena told us it was not time for us to go to bed… Reed said, “NO! It’s time for US to go to bed!” And then they ran off into the bathroom and got ready, all smiles.
Another thing I often do with Reed is crank the key for his “listening ears”. If he isn’t listening, I might “adjust” the key. This is also a reminder when he is NOT listening. Instead of telling him 50 times that he needs to listen, I can jokingly “adjust” the key. If he’s grumpy and not behaving, we might poke the restart button (belly button) to run through a scenario again. This is especially good after we talk about it. Lena isn’t quite ready for these silly, gentle reminders, because she doesn’t have the cognitive development to put all of that together yet. I can play with her in the same way, but I can’t expect a behavior change.
A game we played waiting at the airport in the horrible United line was the hold still game. R was bouncing around like crazy, knocking over suitcases. But, R is fiercely competitive, so we’d pick a funny pose and hold it. Last person standing still wins. All 4 of us played that one. Of course, there’s also the quiet game… same concept, but being quiet. Reed isn’t quite ready for that one yet.
Today, we went to a mall and Reed was being bouncy as we were walking around (think Tigger!) and I wanted to keep him from knocking off the racks. So, I told him it was a game to see how long he could walk normally. I just started counting out loud and if he took one of his little sideways leaps, I’d start over. He got it pretty quickly and we made it out of the mall safely. 🙂
I could go on and on with examples. Reed and Lena often remind us of these games and ask to play them. Or, Reed might tell me that I need to adjust his listening ears. Sometimes, I DO remind him that I really need him to just start listening– if I am right in the middle of a task or driving or just not up for being silly.
I shared this with you to give ideas, and I’d love to hear any of your favorite games. But, I don’t want it to sound like I am always fun and patient with my kids. Not even close. I’m human. 🙂