Number 5: Playfulness

Andrew Wake Newsletter, Parenting

Perhaps this should have been tip number one.

Playfulness is how children learn best.  Sometimes we focus so much on the problems that we forget how to find the fun.

Now of course some things are serious, and sometimes there is no place for flexibility.  But if when interacting with your child you have the option of finding the fun, or becoming serious, always err on finding the fun.  Disappointment, judgment and anger are fun-killers.

The old saying, “You laugh or you cry” is so true.  Equally true is “You laugh or you get angry”.

You can model playfulness by being playful in your own life.  What do you do for yourself that is just for the fun of it?  Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?  Your children need to see you be playful and having your own fun.  Spend time with people who are fun…it tends to rub off.  If you hang out with complainers, you are more likely to become a complainer.

When doing family activities, chose ones more likely to be playful when done together.  Play shorter games rather than longer games, as winning and losing is less of a big deal for “Uno” compared to “Monopoly”.  (I’ll talk about this more in the next post).  Games of chance tend to be more fun as one person’s skill won’t mean they always win.  Anything likely to result in laughter is gold when it comes to playfulness.  Holidays are very important and should be prioritised.  These are likely the times that your children will have the most vivid memories of you and their family having fun.

If a problem occurs when playing, notice it but if you can, address it later.  Don’t poison a fun experience with a serious problem unless it is urgent.  Give your child a couple of playful opportunities to make a change in their own behaviour before you step in.  And if you have to take over, try to do it in a playful way if possible.  It won’t be always possible or even appropriate to be playful.  But if you have the option of finding the fun or going serious, find the fun.