Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Playful Parenting = Extra Energy??

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.


It can be hard to remember that when your child wants to do something they can't (like be in the kitchen while Daddy is cooking bacon), it is much easier to distract than just to argue "no" or wrestle a toddler in tantrum mode.

This was our exact situation recently. I was exhausted. I'd had a rough night and just felt like crap. But I knew Sasha could not be in the kitchen with Daddy. And so what started with us arguing with Sasha (ever argued tried to argue with a 2yo?) suddenly turned into some one-on-one play time. I scooped my beautiful toddler up by her hips, threw her legs over my shoulder and hugged her upside down. This is something I do often, but I really did not think I had it in me on this particular morning.

Sasha and I roughhoused and giggled while Daddy cooked breakfast (even after the bacon was finished!). Then she peacefully sat down and had breakfast. She could have been settling in to eat after a crying fit. Its hard to eat when you've been crying.

I could have argued with her and spent a lot more energy trying to physically keep her out of the kitchen - a negative situation. Negatively spent energy just feels even more exhaustive, you know? Instead, we fed off of each other and had a grand time.

Obviously being in the kitchen with Daddy was not the Be-all End-all, most fabulous thing to do. It was, however, the most exciting thing for her... until I presented a better option, an option that was even more fun. And I didn't even think I used "Playful Parenting."

I must say I was most amazed that the energy just appeared as I needed it while playing with Sasha. I'm sure that beyond the initial burst, I fed off of her happy energy. Amazing, positive exchange!

How has playful parenting helped you avoid meltdowns?


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:


  1. What a perfect example of how to use play to avoid conflict. We need to do this more often in our house, because it always ends better than simply arguing. I feel like we've fallen down a bit now that Kieran is 3 - hopefully this carnival will inspire me to do better!

  2. Ahhhh, lovely. I've picked up my DD and swung her around too. Now she's older she likes to be tickled or timed to do 'chores' (which then suddenly become a lot of fun!) thanks for sharing your happy moment - I felt energised and joyful too, just reading it!

  3. My son loves to wrestle and chase with Daddy, so we often have to use that as a distraction, but lately, I've been setting him up at the sink to play while I do things that he doesn't need to participate in in the kitchen... like cooking bacon!

  4. It's often times when I feel too exhausted for being playful that I realize that being negative takes far more energy. (Although I don't always remember this in time!) It's amazing how rejuvenating being playful can be, for both the parents and the kiddo.

  5. Great example of parenting through play! It's just so much easier than fighting with them and SO much more enjoyable. :-)

  6. I love this! I've been reading all these wonderful posts today getting so many great ideas! Or at least reminders of what I should be doing. My son, 2yo, is like that too. We've been painting our house over the last couple weekends and he's just made a mess helping paint so we don't really want him painting now. So we've finally realized we need to give him some thing better to do. And it worked. Surprise surprise right? But I always forget to do that. I usually just end up saying no.
    Thanks, great post!!

  7. We often have those noone-is-ever-going-to-win arguments. I never really thought about it the way you explained it. Little ones want to do the most interesting thing that happens to be going on around them. This post created a revelation for me! I'm going to attempt to find more interesting things for Little Guy to do when he wants to "help" one of us do something that he just cannot be doing. Thanks!

  8. Great example of using distraction and fun to avoid conflict! It's so true that conflict takes so much more energy, and often children just need something positive to focus on. :) Deb @ LivingMontessoriNow.com

  9. @Dionna - It is impossible to balance perfection in every parenting aspect. We wax and wane and get reminders... You rock at the peaceful thing, I have no doubt!

    @Mrs Green - its amazing that just when you think you are too exhausted to lift a finger, doing so re-energizes you!

    @Laura - that is a great point! Sometimes I try a few times to get Sasha to stop doing something and then it hits me... find something BETTER to do!

    @Lauren - exactly! And it just feels so much better!

  10. @Charise - thanks! Positive interaction is just better all around! I'm actually working on another project right now (relating to marriage rather than parenting) that says you really should have at least 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative in a day. It is definitely better to lean the scales in that direction!

    @Cassie - I'm with you there! I've learned and gotten all kinds of new ideas... and then some have been reminders that I'm not as clueless on playful parenting as I thought I was. I have been reminded of things I did when my older daughter was little, too. It's been a fun carnival!

    @Alicia - Awesome! I so love it when someone really takes something from my blog! :-D It often takes me a few times of trying to just get her to stop doing something before it occurs to me to distract with something more fun!

    @Deb - And everyone has room for more positivity in their lives, right? :-)

  11. I have had this same experience so many times! I find it so hard to remember when I'm tired or stressed but resisting children is always so much harder, more tiring and always takes way longer than going with their flow. For me, it's about my emotional energy. If I can become receptive to them instead of resistant then good ideas (like your game) for how we can both get what we want usually follow. Scott Noelle's 'Daily Groove' has lots of great ideas along these lines that we've used to resounding success :)

  12. OH YEAH! I'm with Hannah - I always find myself in a place where my emotional energy is so draining. . . but when I let go of that resistance, and just play for the sake of playing with my daughter or my little boy. . . suddenly, the world is so much better for both of us.

    It's totally difficult for me not to get sucked into an argument with my 3 year old. I know that sounds silly, but it's true. We are at each other constantly, and both of us like to pick fights and stand our ground.

    But it is totally easy to have a tickle fest. . . or dance around to music. . . or play "chase meeeeeee!" I especially love Dr. Laura Markham's "Fix Game" over at Aha Parenting. I've gotta get my Abbey fix! ;) tamkes every day, every moment that much sweeter for the both of us!

  13. What a great example of changing what could have been such a diffucult and draining situation into a positive!! I know for myself that it's even more exhausting when I close in on myself and resist... meaning that when I'm tired anyway, and I meet her resistance or reluctance with my own tightness... it's going nowhere fast. If I can let go of whatever I thought I wanted to happen and relax into the moment, it all gets better pretty quickly too. I imagine it will be hard and make it hard.
    You did that so wonderfully. Thank you for sharing this.

  14. @Hannah & Amyables - indeed. It is that much harder to be present in their moment when we're in a bad place emotionally ourselves.

    And I totally get how easy it can be to get sucked into an argument, even with a little one. I actually need way more practice avoiding that with my teenager (just turned 13)! I think I might have to try the roaring thing with her... have you read that post?

  15. @ Teresa - Well said! It is true of so many things in life. If we can just manage to be present in the moment and let go of our expectations a bit, life is so much easier and more pleasant!


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