Archive of ‘connecting’ category

Playing for Power

Playing Tag

“In play, the ordinary rules of reality are suspended, and that is what gives it such power. A little boy can imagine himself a superhero; a young girl can wrestle her father and pin his shoulders down. Children playing school get to hand out the assignments and the grades and the punishments. The playing field is leveled, or even tipped a bit in favor of the child, to make up for the frustrations of being smaller and weaker and less competent than the bigger folks.”
-Dr. Lawrence Cohen, Playful Parenting

Some of my children’s favorite games seem specifically designed to give them power. In Baby Bear, they always get away with sneaking out of the cave when they’re supposed to be hibernating. In Stop! Go!, they control my every movement. In You Can’t Get It, they always manage to “steal” a toy from me (while I stand there taunting that they’ll never ever get it away) and to run away and hide it where I’ll never find it.

I love that we can play out the impulse to be in control so they can break rules, be the boss, and take things away in a safe, silly scenario rather than through misbehavior.

Playing Tag photo courtesy of Bruce McKay

The BOOP Game

by Allen Goldblatt (click for original)

Siblings Without Rivalry has been on my “to-read” list for months, and I finally sat down with a copy this weekend. The next day (yes, it was that good), I closed the last page of the book, full of new ideas but (as always) some feelings of inadequacy – I see great potential for the principles, but can I implement them?

I didn’t make any specific plans or goals, but found my morning playing out an example of one of the book’s key ideas: “Give children in fantasy what they don’t have in reality.”

My 4 year old daughter threw her smoothie to the floor shortly after breakfast. I asked her to clean it up, and she darted away.

“Ugh!” I groaned, “don’t you just wish you didn’t even have to get a cleaning cloth and wipe it up? You could just yell BOOP and it’d be all clean?”

She giggled as she came back, “yeah, and BOOP and the dishes were in the sink.”

“Yes!” I agreed, “and BOOP, they’re in the dishwasher, clean!”

We shared a laugh, and she ran to the kitchen.

“BOOP!” she exclaimed as she opened the drawer with the cleaning cloths, “BOOP!” as she wet one under the sink, “BOOP” for each and every individual dot of smoothie (yes, by this point I wished I’d chosen a less annoying sound, haha) she rubbed clean.

Our little game lasted another half or or so, the word popping up here and there as she completed tasks she didn’t really want to do (occasionally reminding me SHE wasn’t doing it, the BOOP did it for her). Morning chores were hassle-free, full of laughter instead of nagging.

I love seeing tiny changes in my perspective yield huge ones in her attitude!

Photo courtesy of Allen Goldblatt