Life with kids involves a lot of parents telling them what to do. Children are little and are learning many things each day, struggling to learn many things each day and watching us adults do those very things with precision. This can lead to them feeling small and powerless.
This powerlessness then sometimes shows up as frustration and non-cooperation.
Thankfully, we have a tool to counter that. It’s called Playlistening and is developed by Hand in Hand Parenting Organisation (www.handinhandparenting.org).
We can help children counter feelings of powerlessness by making them feel powerful through some fun games. Also, the mild level tensions that children hold due to these frustrations can be released by infusing laughter in these games.
The tool of Playlistening involves 2 main themes:
Child feels powerful
There is laughter (without tickling)
So, what do these Playlistening games look like?
A simple pillow fight can turn into Playlistening by the parent creating laughter with each blow from the child, pretend trying really hard to “beat” the child with the pillow but missing most times and strategizing and behaving like the stronger party but eventually the child emerges stronger and mightier. This simple roughhousing game make the child feel more connected to the parent, stronger and more powerful in general.
The classic hide and seek – this age-old game can turn into Playlistening every time the child manages to find the parent and the parent expresses shock at being found out & every time the child hides, the goofy parent tries and tries but just cannot trace the child. A game of hide and seek played every day with a lot of thrill and laughter can work as an excellent connecter and deal with a lot of boredom and lethargy.
My 11-year-old son loves both the above so age no bar for these two games.
Parents can get children to do chores using Playlistening which is much more fun and interesting than plain simple repeat instructions.
Cleaning toys – “The blue blocks and 22 cars are stranded on an island. Oh, I wonder which brave soldier will rescue them. Their destination is the big yellow box living on the 2nd storey of brown cupboard. I wonder if their building has an elevator”. Kids love this play because they are the powerful brave soldier and it’s a lot more fun to rescue them than do a chore that is repeated 100 times. Kids take to visual thinking much more than straight requests.
Similar fun examples can be used for putting away shoes, books, clearing the dinner table.
Bathing/ Changing clothes – children love challenges and they love it more when they beat a challenge. Parents can ask a child how much time the child will take to change his clothes and can say “I think you will take 20 mins”. Of course, the child will say he will take less time and will work even faster to beat that time.
This fun method can also be used to finish dinner, complete homework.
Going to bed – fairy tale land comes alive. Parent can say “Should Winnie the Pooh come to pick you up or Donald Duck?”. The child gets to choose who comes and then has a great laugh at the parents attempts at playing that character.
Variation to that game can be that the child can press pretend buttons on the parent’s face, shoulder, back which are controls for taking the child as an aeroplane or as a ship or as a kangaroo. There is no limit to imagination or cooking up any story. Children take to almost any simple fantasy.
This can further extend to “Do you want to sleep under the stars or in the jungle?” and pretend as if there is one. Engaging children visually, making funny animal sounds, making silly mistakes in naming things like calling a blanket a baby or calling a pillow a puppy adds an added dose of enjoyment to the bedtime routine.
Long story short, when plain instructions don’t work, try passing power and creating a few laughs. It will surely be more enjoyable and easier than the former.
Lastly, as parents, a frequent reminder to ourselves, that the present moment is not a crisis can prevent it from becoming one and can help us take the lighter route to achieving the chores.
To learn more about Play Listening, visit Hand-in-Hand Parenting USA at - (link)
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