Playfulness is a cornerstone of my parenting philosophy. Playful parenting makes potentially difficult moments with a child into moments of fun instead.
Playful parenting makes potentially difficult moments with a child into moments of fun instead. <Tweet this.>
I wrote about parenting through play back when Dylan was an infant, and that value has stuck with me as he’s turned into a toddler.
Sometimes it saves my butt!
The other day I was using the bathroom, and Dylan locked me in. Part of our babyproofing was to put a lock on the outside of our upstairs bathroom. Dylan isn’t a baby anymore, and now he can reach and operate the lock. Oops.
So here I am, locked in the bathroom, and I have two choices.
One, I can try to break the lock. It’s a little hook and eye, so I could probably manage to tear it out with enough force on the door.
Two, I can get Dylan to unlock it for me. I could ask him to do it, but frankly, he doesn’t very often just do what I tell him. He probably thinks he’s very clever and funny for figuring out how to operate the lock. He’s probably not very inclined to unlock it. I could start yelling, demanding that he let me out. That probably won’t work, it might be very upsetting for him, and it wouldn’t be very pleasant for me either.
The option that remains is using play.
When I make up songs for Dylan, my go-to tune is Where is Thumbkin. We have played a lot of hiding and finding games while singing:
Where is Dylan? Where is Dylan?
Where could he be? Where could he be?
I don’t see him, I don’t see him.
Where is he? Where is he?
I sing this song when we play hide and seek. I sing it when we are waiting for someone to come visit us and Dylan is having trouble waiting. I just change the name and apply it to all kinds of situations. Sometimes there are extra verses working in where the person is when they are not with us.
Honestly, it didn’t even occur to me to try any other method. When I heard Dylan lock me in the bathroom, heard his laughter, and heard him run away from the door, my first instinct was to laugh.
I burst out laughing. Then I let a moment go by to see if he might actually come unlock me all on his own. Then I started singing, “Where is Issa? Where is Issa? Where could she be?”
By the time I got a stanza finished, Dylan came scampering to unlock the door and swing it open to exuberantly “find” me.
Playful parenting to the rescue.
And then I removed that lock from the door, of course. Some games work best if you only have to play them once!
What ways have you found to work play into your parenting?