An interesting, thought-provoking book about taking a more light-hearted approach to parenting. Although I found it useful, I have trouble actually putting it into practice.
Review: I alternate between thinking this is a very important book and not particularly useful. What I love about this book is that it has a focus which is completely different from any other parenting book I’ve read. The main idea is that you should be goofy and playful with your kids in nearly every situation. The author, a play therapist, uses lots of helpful examples to describe how he uses a playful attitude to break through walls that his clients and other children put up so that he can foster a deeper connection. He encourages techniques such as roughhousing, fantasy play, reversing roles, acting bumbling and incompetent, and playing Barbies as ways to get children to open up and let out their bad feelings.
I can see how having a positive, silly attitude would be helpful in lots of situations instead of immediately getting mad when kids misbehave and I’ve tried to incorporate this aspect to some extent into my parenting. However, I’ve had mixed success. There are lots of times I’ve found when my kids’ anger and/or bad attitudes are not really going to be cured by making them laugh temporarily. For example, if kids are fighting over a toy, he recommends grabbing the toy and running away laughing to get the kids to chase you. I think in the ideal world this would be so much fun that the kids would forget about the toy. I can say that this technique worked as advertised in a certain sense when I tried it. I had my kids laughing for a couple minutes as they chased me around the kitchen. However, I really had to cook dinner and when I stopped playing, the meltdowns were even bigger. Now not only were they crying because they each still wanted the toy, but they were also crying because they didn’t want me to stop playing. This was not the outcome I was hoping for.
I can see how this playful attitude might work better for dealing with only one child, but when there is more than one child, especially siblings, I find his techniques difficult to implement. However, despite my lack of real progress at being a “playful parent,” I did enjoy this book and I think I’ll hang onto it for a while. Maybe it will be more useful to me down the road. For the moment, I’m just trying to remember to be more light-hearted with my children and open to fun. Sometimes it’s good to be reminded that laughter is important, whether or not it solves problems. (Personal Rating: 8/10)