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Synopsis of Playful Parenting

By Lawrence J. Cohen

Join Children in Their World

The original version: "I hate you!"
The translation: "I haven't figured out yet how to be mad at somebody I love; it's confusing."
The thoughtful response: "I love you, and I get confused, too, when I'm mad at somebody I love."

Establish a Connection

When kids are kicking, punching, biting, or spitting: "You got me with a love kick, now I have to hug you." Sometimes they'll say, "No, this is a hate gun." I just say, "Oh, it must be broken because it's making me love you."

Lighten up the Scene

Suspend Reality: Reverse the Roles

Dependence and Independence

For the kid that wants you to stay with them as they fall asleep: start leaving sooner, before the child is all the way asleep. You could say that you are going to put on your pajamas or brush your teeth and that you'll come back and check on her. The child will learn to fall asleep because instead of bracing themselves for the separation, now they know that the next thing that will happen was that you will come back, so they can relax and drift off to sleep.

Instill Good Judgment

Instead of trying to get children to be obedient, strive for them to have good judgment. Obedience last only as long as we are in the room with them. It does not help a child know what to do in a brand-new situation. The goal of most punishment is obedience. Good judgment, on the other hand, comes from talking with children, brainstorming about how they might handle different situations, and discussing moral dilemmas. Connecting with children after they've done something wrong, listening to how they feel about it, and telling them calmly how we feel, all do much more to instill good judgment than punishment does.