Expert Parenting Advice
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How to speak the language of playfulness

Why learning to be more playful with your child can make it easier to get them to listen to you, and cooperate with what you want them to do.

A while back, I spoke to Karen Thurm Safran, the author of Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It.

I asked Karen the same question I asked the other parenting experts I interviewed for my book How To Get Kids To Listen:

What is your favorite technique or strategy that is working well for you or your clients to help kids to better listen and cooperate?

Karen replied:

The trick is that when you're playful with your children, you're working with them, instead of against them, because you're speaking their language. They like to play.

So, if you want your kids to get ready for bed, then just saying, "Go to the bathroom and start brushing your teeth," that's not fun for them.

They're going to resist. I'm talking about little kids at first, but this works for older kids also. Instead, if you're like Mary Poppins, and you make a game of it, then all of a sudden, you're speaking their language.

It's kind of like going to Italy and trying to talk to someone when you don't know Italian. If you learn the language, then you can communicate.

Karen Safran

I experienced this with my daughter a few days ago. She was very sad and crying, because her brother went to school and she had to stay at home.

She didn't want me to hug her or calm her down.

So, remembering what Karen said, I picked up one of her stuffed toys, and started using it as a puppet to talk to her.

Almost instantly, she calmed down and started talking back to the stuffed toy.

Soon, she had forgotten all about being sad, and was bringing more stuffed toys to join the fun.

Being able to "speak the language" of playfulness makes interactions with kids much easier and more fun.

In my interview with Karen, she shared lots of tips on how to be more playful with your children.

She shared how to remember to be playful when you are stressed, and how to turn boring activities into a game.

She also shared what she calls the “Mary Poppins technique” for finding the fun in every chore.