Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Parenting my toddler through play

Welcome to the September Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting Through Play

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how challenging discipline situations can be met with play. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Parenting my child through play came naturally to me.  I remember my Mother using games to help us complete our chores.  I also learned to use the ol' - I'll time ya! - trick on my younger siblings growing up.  I learned quickly that making everyday tasks fun made them not only go by quicker, but made them less painful. It was only natural for me to develop a healthy playful parenting relationship with my own child.

These are a few playful ways I parent E:

I sing a lot around our house.  I have a clean up song, a teeth brushing song, a bath song and a face washing song.  Hubby thinks I'm crazy, but E loves it and I don't have a child that squirms and shouts when wiping his face off after dinner or pouring water over his head in the bath.  Now, at 28 months, E is old enough to know the words and sing along too. Singing about the specific tasks at hand helps distract him from any negative feelings he may have.

We normally walk to the park that is about 10 minutes down the street and E happily skips along, but coming home is always a challenge.  I've recently started a red light - stop, and green light - go, game on our walks back to distract him from leaving the park and making the walk home much quicker.  He is happy to race me and call the shots and a bonus - he is practicing his colours and rules of the road.

Normally, when I'm making dinner E will happily play around me and will often play with the alphabet  fridge magnets. He recently started a habit of throwing them onto the floor and leaving them behind.  Instead of scolding or demanding him to pick them up, I offer him a game of who can pick them up the fastest, or picking out the colours or reciting the letters.  Taking the time to engage with him in an activity makes the clean-up much fastest than nagging or scolding him into putting them back on the fridge himself.

E is a very sensitive child. We have to be very careful not to over react and to be in tune with his emotions.  While some men might say he needs to toughen up, I believe sensitivity is a good thing and it is our duty to help him understand and feel comfortable with these feelings.  One thing we practice is talking about our feelings and asking him how something makes him feel.  A playful way to help him understand is when we stand in front of the mirror and practice our mad, sad, happy, etc faces and relate them to a situation that happened that day. It's a great way to recap the day and it can get pretty silly!

These are just a few ways I incorporate play into parenting E rather than demanding actions from him. I am comfortable with our playful, mindful and loving relationship.


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

14 comments:

  1. So sweet! I really like the red light/green light idea for walking! We sing a lot, too... about everything. My son is still just 13 months, but I'm patiently waiting for the day he can sing along with me (he's starting to try to match pitches at least) Thanks for sharing! : )

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  2. Wow what great ideas!! I'm in need of some more ideas. My son is a month younger than yours and I just had a baby 3 months ago. I can't believe I forgot about the who can pick things up faster game. My dad and I always did that!! Great post!!

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  3. Red light green light is a GREAT game for encouraging cooperation - we use it with our 3yo! And I completely agree with making clean up time into a game - it always gets more accomplished :)

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  4. I love the last one of exploring emotions - I'm right with you that 'sensitive' children are a gift and don't need toughening up.

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  5. I sing about everything too. My husband used to think I was crazy. I guess he's joined the craziness, because now he joins in, at least occasionally. If he rolls his eyes and asks, "is that necessary?" I answer, "yes, actually, it is."

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  6. Great post! I sing a lot too but never have consistent words to any of my 'household' songs. I need to do better so they can sing along ;)

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  7. I love how you make things enjoyable! The red light/green light game sounds fab, will be definitely using it when my son is a bit older.

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  8. This is really inspiring. You've really given me some good ideas there. Thanks.

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  9. I love the songs!! We sing around here a lot too. I like the idea of making up more task specific songs though.
    And I love to hear how you're protecting your son's sensitive soul.

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  10. I DO have a child that squirms and hates face and nose wiping, etc. I will have to try your song method- that sounds wonderful!

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  11. I'm going to have to come up with some songs myself...brushing teeth and face-wiping are no fun for us! I really like your use of emotional faces in the mirror to recap the day. What a great way to help the little guy process his feelings. Beautiful!

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  12. What a great idea to use "red light, Green light" to encourage a resistant child! Brilliant. I'm going to try that suggestion today!

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  13. I love the red light, green light idea too. And I'm so glad you mentioned about feelings! I was recently around a couple who yelled out, "You're OK! You're OK!" every time their child fell or got hurt. I try to point out feelings and emotions to my son so he can learn about them. So when my child falls, I say, "You're hurt and scared." I don't mind that he cries. There's no need to be tough if you're sad, hurt, scared, whatever. I love the idea of teaching kids to really be in tune with their emotions.

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  14. I want to use EVERY ONE of your tips. Whoa, I am getting so many good ideas from this carnival. Lots of us have mentioned singing — i'm going to have to start singing for tasks for sure and see if that makes things smoother. I like the idea of it in bathtime, because Mikko hates having his hair washed (and it shows, lol).

    And leaving a place by playing red light-green light? Brilliant!

    And Mikko does the same thing with his fridge magnets, and I never thought to make a game of picking them up! Doh.

    The emotion faces really got me, too, because Mikko is so sensitive, and almost scared of negative emotions. I like the idea of helping him work through them in a playful way. Thanks so much!

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