Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

The Big Hole

How to work with your children, instead of against them.

In South Africa, where I grew up, there was a town famous for one thing: A Big Hole.

I remember each year we would drive through the town on our way to holiday, and we would beg my dad to let us go see The Big Hole.

The Big Hole was just an old diamond mine that had been partially filled in with water. There was nothing to do at The Big Hole...we would just go and look at it (this was before Netflix and computers, so our standard for entertainment was not high).

I had forgotten all about it, but this morning I was browsing the Internet and discovered that the Big Hole of Kimberley has its own Wikipedia page.

Reading about it now, as an adult, I can't understand why it excited kid-me back then. What could be so exciting about looking at a big hole? Adult-me looks at it and just sees a small partially filled lake.

But that's the thing: kids see the world differently than adults. Their objectives and agendas are often very different from ours - they want to play, you want to complete your todo list. They want to look at Big Holes, you want to get to your destination.

Karen Thurm Safran, the author of Parenting: Let's Make A Game Of It, said something about this when we interviewed her for our book How To Get Kids To Listen:

It’s so easy to scream at kids, right? And to just have an objective that you want kids to do. It’s like tunnel vision, where all you care about is the end-result.

But kids are different. They like to play.

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.

Karen Thurm Safran

Karen says that if you want to convince your kids to do what you want, you first have to understand what it is that they want.

If you can do this, if you can get into their world, and frame your requests in terms of things that they find interesting or important, then getting what you want becomes much easier.

In the interview, Karen also shares how to remember to be playful when you are stressed and how the playfulness habit actually empowers your children throughout their lives.