Playful Parenting

 
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Product Description

Tag, you're it! In Playful Parenting, Lawrence Cohen demonstrates that parents need to lighten up and spend a few hours giggling with their kids. Play is inherently educational for children, he claims, and parents can learn plenty by examining the games kids play--from peekaboo to practical jokes.

Cohen is quick to point out that no matter what your child's temperament, she has a playful side. In its most basic form, play is a way to communicate. The author examines, with plenty of hilarious personal anecdotes, the details of play at every age and across genders. From his daughter and a new male friend discussing how "cool" nuclear weapons are and how "gross" a love song is, to a younger child zooming full-speed around a park at a birthday party, we're shown the exuberant truth behind playing: not only is it just plain fun, it can spark a variety of important sensations. One short section discusses the common phenomenon of happy giggling turning instantly to tears. Cohen suggests that "the fun play opens the emotional door to let out the giggles, and a flood of other feelings come pouring out after." Some specific ideas for games are included, and you'll find recommendations for everything from play wrestling to gentle storytelling. One chapter focuses on how to cope with play you don't find enjoyable, and how learning to appreciate these games can lead to surprising emotional insights. This is where Cohen's years of practice come in handy--it may be true that we all play, but not everyone immediately grasps the underlying messages. This is not simply a book filled with family activities, but rather an exploration of play for all ages. --Jill Lightner

Parents have heard that play is a child's work--but play is not for kids only. As psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., demonstrates in this delightful new book, play can be the basis for an innovative and rewarding approach to parenting. From eliciting a giggle during baby's first game of peek-a-boo to cracking jokes with a teenager while hanging out at the mall, Playful Parenting is a complete guide to using play to raise strong, confident children.

Have you ever stepped back to watch what really goes on when your children play? As Dr. Cohen points out, play is children's complex and fluid way of exploring the world, communicating hard-to-express feelings, getting close to those they care about, working through stressful situations, and simply blowing off steam. That's why "playful parenting" is so important and so successful in building strong, close bonds between parents and children. Through play we join our kids in their world. We help them express and understand deep emotions, foster connection, aid the process of emotional healing--and have a great time ourselves while we're at it.

Anyone can be a playful parent--all it takes is a sense of adventure and a willingness to let down your guard and try something new. After identifying why it can be hard for adults to play, Dr. Cohen discusses how to get down on the floor and join children on their own terms. He covers games, activities, and playful interactions that parents can enjoy with children of all ages, whether it's gazing deep into a baby's eyes, playing chase with a toddler, fantasy play with a grade schooler, or reducing a totally cool teenager to helpless laughter.

Playful Parenting also includes illuminating chapters on how to use play to build a child's confidence and self-esteem, how to play through sibling rivalry, and how play can become a part of loving discipline. Written with love and humor, brimming with good advice and revealing anecdotes, and grounded in the latest research, Playful Parenting will make you laugh even as it makes you wise in the ways of being a happy, effective, enthusiastic parent.


From the Hardcover edition.

Customer Reviews:

  • If you read one parenting book, make it this one!
    I'll admit it, I am the type of obsessive mother who reads TONS of parenting books. But this is one of the best I've read and it is full of useful, practical and inspiring information. Cohen writes from experience as a parent, a therapist and someone who clearly adores children. His approaches to connecting with your children, disciple and problem behviors are thoughtful, fun, easy to implement, and above all compassionate. I also appreciated the tone he strikes. He is never melodramatic or suggests that you will cause your children permanent emotional harm if you make a mistake, and he acknowledges how hard it can be to parent in this involved way. I genuinely felt that his goal for his readers was the same goal we have for ourselves: to connect with our children so that our family time is enjoyable for all and to raise happy and confident kids....more info
  • ALLL TO GETHER GREATNESS
    This Book is EYE opening I personally like alot of parents out there Look for Parenting books and READ ALOT ALOT ALOT of them.. I have so many when i buy one now i have to sell one.. but because i have too many..
    This book touches on teaches and shows everything you can think of when you think of Playful Parenting Its one of the first books i have bought on Amazon.com and i have started buying more..
    I know that you will INJOY THIS BOOK as i did and as you can see ALOT more Parents have also....more info
  • Great resource for parents kids aged 3 and up
    The premise of the book is that children need a strong connection with their parents in order to have good self-esteem, self-confidence, happiness and good behavior. The author is a play therapist that feels that the key to getting and staying connected with our children aged three through the teen years is through play. If you think your child has great behavior then following the ideas in this book will still help foster close connections and reduce the minor issues such as whining, begging, etc. The author contends that simply by spending time playing with our children with the child in control of the nature of the play, that a strong connection can be made. Specific ideas for play "tactics" are given when the parent wants to solve some particular problem or fear. This book is not just for "problem kids" who have sought professional counseling with the author.
    The gist of the book is that at about age 3 and up children are in the play mode, they like to play, want to play, need to play. They also at this time live in a world where they feel powerless or isolated at least some of the time, even in the best family situations. The theory is that they have "cups" that fill with love and sometimes when feeling isolated or powerless the cups run low and need refilling. When the cup is low the negative behaviors begin. The author feels that at these ages 3 through teen years, the fastest and most effective way to fill the love cup is by playing with your children. Most of his examples are with the work he has done with his child and his patients. He tells of certain games that can be played to overcome
    this or that, such as how to deal with the child who wants to play guns and shoot at the parent, how to deal with swearing, what to do when the child is hyper and aggressive, etc. He made this seem so very simple that I didn't believe it would work. I also at first, didn't want to think my own children would ever need this. But I started using it immediately with my 4
    YO and it DOES WORK.
    The author discusses the negative issues of permissiveness and the negative aspects of the opposite extreme of over-strictness/authoritarian style of discipline. Regarding punishment methods, the author also is against yelling, threatening, or using verbal abusive techniques such as shaming as well as physical methods such as hitting in any way or spanking. He is also against using time-outs for punishment and explains why they don't work but instead foster more feelings of isolation and detachment. He discusses why letting a baby "cry it out" should not be done. The author is also against behavior modification tactics such as rewards and bribes, giving a brief overview of why they fail in the end, then he suggests reading "Punished by Rewards" for more detailed information.
    The author is supportive of attachment in infancy and continuing throughout the teen years. The author interestingly enough never mentions actions to be taken in infancy that would secure an attachment. If you are looking for ways to foster this attachment in your birth through two year old I would recommend books on the subject of attachment parenting such as "The Baby Book" or "The Discipline Book", both written by William Sears MD and his wife Martha Sears RN. However, "Playful Parenting" expands on the information outlined by the Sears' and this book gives more tools and techniques while the essence of this book flows seamlessly from the philosophy as the Sears'.
    Unlike other parenting book author "experts", Cohen is able to give the special perspective of a psychologist and really gives some useful information, psychological-wise, on the importance of fostering a close connection with our children and how and why these exercises (play therapy) can and does work. Cohen does not use psychological terminology and the writing style is easy for parents to read and understand. While some other parenting books identify certain behaviors as "normal" for this age or that age, Cohen cites these behaviors as signals that the child is in need of some attention (via play) and once given, the behavior stops. (I recently read a parenting book by psychologists that simply listed multiple negative behaviors as normal for that age. I prefer Cohen's book because he cites the reason for it and suggests solutions.)

    He talks about power struggles and about parents who don't like to play,
    that are serious all the time or preoccupied and begs parents to loosen up
    and play with the kids.
    Near the end of the book he does discuss individual issues of importance
    such dealing with children's sex play, sibling rivalry, gun play, etc.
    Lastly, Cohen admits throughout the book that as a parent he is not perfect and that he even has to sometimes push himself to get down and play Barbie games with his daughter. He does not write with a holier-than-thou attitude. I've done a lot of reading about parenting but have never read anything as great as Cohen's theory and ideas for parenting the three-plus year old.
    I'm glad to see this is now out in paperback, the low paperback price will be appreciated by parents....more info

  • Reintroduce the Belly Laugh
    What a profoundly wonderful book. This book reminded me that when I am stressed, rushed, and generally a very serious parent... it has adverse effect on myself, my marriage, and my child. Reintroducing the belly laugh has made bedtime, dinner time, date night, and lifetime in general so much better for all of us. I never thought I would have this much fun doing such serious work (raising a person)......more info
  • A refreshing change from the usual parenting books
    This is a great book! It provides a refreshingly new look at how to connect with your children and have fun while you're doing it.

    After reading numerous parenting books, I can recite the usual themes - set realistic limits, provide praise when merited, focus criticism on behavior and keep it brief, be honest, offer choices, blah, blah, blah. They're all good points, but being a responsible parent should not be all there is. Most parenting books ignore the importance of having fun with your children. It's something we're all supposed to just HAVE in our relationships with our children, and then we're disappointed when it's not there as often as we would like.

    PLAYFUL PARENTING transcends these usual parenting shibboleths and supplies lessons on how to accomplish something we all yearn for - connection and fun! This book provides simple, easy to use techniques for connecting with your children and having fun while you do it. Like Dr. Doolittle with animals, Dr. Cohen understands the different language that children speak. That language is play. He explains that we need to learn to speak that language if we're going to connect with our children and be truly effective. As adults, we too often lapse into lectures and explanations (sound familiar?) when a playful approach will make us a more effective teacher. Typical of strategies provided in the book is one I now use with my children. Whenever they use some provocative word like "poopyhead" (or something much worse), I respond by saying in a conspiratorial tone "Well, you can say that if you want, but don't ever, EVER, say zoogililoo". Of course, they immediately say it, we all laugh, they get over the need to provoke, and we've connected in a knowing way.

    PLAYFUL PARENTING also recognizes that children are often powerless in their relationships with parents and it provides excellent strategies for giving children more control. One strategy described in the book is called "Playtime", which is one on one time a parent sets aside with a child, in which the child gets to make all the decisions about what to do and the parent can not say "no" (basic safety considerations still apply, of course). I tried Playtime with my five year old son one Sunday afternoon and had a wonderful bonding experience with him - doing things such as swimming on a cold day (though I would have rather stayed warm and dry) and letting him hold the train ticket (though I was afraid he'd lose it). For Dr. Cohen understands parents, too, and knows that we all too often say "no" for the wrong reasons - we're tired, bored, or lacking energy. The strategies in this book, like Playtime, will challenge you to stretch yourself as a parent - but with bigtime payback! My son now asks for Playtime every weekend.

    I was fortunate to be able to read a prepublication manuscript of PLAYFUL PARENTING last summer. I have employed many of its strategies to great effect with my two boys, ages 5 and 3. I have expanded my repertoire of skills for handling difficult situations, and have a more proactive approach to bonding with my children in ways that we all enjoy. I highly recommend this book to any and all parents. It would make a great gift, especially for those just getting started with the parenting challenge....more info

  • I love this book, learn to romp with your kids!
    I've always thought wrestling with your kids was good, and I was very glad to find a book that actually agreed and gave explanations for why this is so. It truly helps with teaching about giving people space, being gentle and sharing; my son is one of the most non-confrontational in his playgroup, and I know it's in part because of the things we've taught him from this book. I love it!...more info
  • delightful
    I love this book. My husband and I have had great fun finding playful ways to solve difficult situations with our 26 month old daughter. Life is so much easier and happier on everyone when we can make our daughter laugh and do what we would like her to do instead of all parties getting angry and frustrated. I would recommend this book to anyone (and have recommended it to everyone I know!)...more info
  • Revolutionizing Parenthood
    Lawrence Cohen is revolutionizing parenthood. I have a 3 year old son and a 10 month old daughter. My son is going through a tough stage right now therefore, we are all going through a tough stage! PLAYFUL PARENTING has changed my way of thinking when it comes to dealing with behaviour problems. Two weeks ago I would see my son throwing toys or pushing his sister over and I'd have to count to ten to cool off and then I'd go into a well hashed routine of "Why? That's mean. Would you like it...? etc." Now I am able to get behind the behaviour and see a child who needs love and reassurance, or "his cup filled" as Dr, Cohen outs it. I have read many parenting books and will continue to do so but if I had to chose only one book as the most important and helpful book a parent can read, this would be it.

    Here is an example of how my thinking and actions have changed since reading this book. For about two months my son was in timeout so often that as soon as he saw me giving him that look of annoyance he'd start off for the bottom step of out staircase, the" "timeout" step. He would always get the talk about being mean and because of the way I was phrasing my "lectures" he began to answer my question of "Why?" with "Because I like being mean." This really disturbed me. After reading just a few pages of PLAYFUL PARENTING I began to use new language and started suggesting reasons why he might be acting out aggressively. He embraced this new approach. I began asking things like "Are you feeling angry and a little left out because I was holding your sister?" His response was so different than the beligerent "I like being mean." He began crying, wanted to be held and would start talking about feeling sad and how he didn't want me to hold baby sister. I can say without hesitation that our lives have changed because of this book. Thank you Dr. Cohen!...more info

  • Heavenly written
    Dr. Cohen has written an outstanding masterpiece. Working with dynamic children I am always looking for creative and insightful ways into their world. Reading this book has given me the privledge to visit it. His philosophy, approach and playful games,which are described in rich detail are exceptional! This book is one to share with as many people as you can. If used as a guide, childhood could indeed be like heaven....more info
  • Great
    There's nothing I can say that hasn't already been said so I'll simply add my name to the names of all the people who know this is a great parenting book....more info
  • great book
    Learn how to be a better parent is the greatest gift we can give our children
    A Moment of Peace: Relaxation for Parents AudiobookA Moment of Peace: Relaxation for Children...more info
  • Excellent book!
    Great for the "serious" parent. I great way to connect with your child on their level....more info
  • A great Book about Connecting with your kids through play
    In this fast paced life we lead it is easy to become disconnected from our children in so many ways. I found this book extrememly helpful for connecting with my kids through play. Cohen used personal examples that were interesting as well as gave play by play instruction for those of us who have forgotten how to "get down on the floor" and enjoy the things our kids enjoy. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their relationships with their children....more info
  • a very very interesting account on how to deal with discipline the positive way
    This is one of the books which you put down and think "waow, I'm going to do things differently starting now!" and you do.
    Dr Cohen presents his technique towards discipline: fun and play and how it is important to relate to children through their own natural way of learning which is playing.
    I've copied the techniques exemplified there and it worked wonders with my little boy.
    This is definitely a MUST-HAVE for all parents concerned with respectful and positive parenting. Quite complementary to Ginott's teachings about positive education. Superb book on non violent upbringing....more info
  • What do you know? Goofiness is a skill.


    This is a great book that I encourage parents to read. Dr. Cohen certainly didn't invent this approach, and I don't believe he's claiming to have, but he does a great job of making the case for the importance of playing with your children. And not just taking the time to play with your children, but also approaching discipline and parenting in a playful manner.

    This is all easier said than done. The technique is fairly simple in its basic form: sitting on the floor, parent and child one-on-one, and play, letting the child take the lead and shape the direction of the play. But this really is a luxury for most families these days. Parents are busy and stressed. Some days, getting everyone where they need to go, putting food on the table, and keeping your kids safe is about all that can be asked. But the payoffs are worth it in terms of deepening the connection with your child, teaching confidence, and laughing together. It can also be therapeutic for the parents, as you observe what kind of fantasies or strong feelings are tough for you to tolerate. When is it tough for us adults to give up our dignity and play dumb, play powerless. When we re-direct, is it for our children's sake or to spare us from our own anxiety and frustrations. It's rich stuff.

    Children play because it's fun. But it is also a child's way of learning, experimenting, playing with different roles, and communicating. Play is also a way of being close, so playing with your child helps bonding, filling that insatiable need for attachment and affection. A third purpose of play is to process and recover from painful experiences and emotional distress. Dr. Cohen gives the simple example of a little kid coming back from a doctor's visit and wanting to pretend they are a doctor and their parents are the patients who have to get shots. This phenomenon, mastering anxiety or painful emotions through play, takes different forms at different developmental stages, with a common adolescent example being the kid who gets bullied at school and goes home to play a video game in which they shoot and kill people.

    I think it's easy to think of degrees of playfulness that are aspects of your personality, something inherent in some people and not in others. But you can actually learn it, and the examples in the book give nice illustrations of how to approach playful parenting. It's just a technique, it's an attitude, and one that immediately makes a difference if put to practice. It's focusing away from rules and instead teaching principles. It's entering the child's world, not worrying about the specific behaviors as much as trying to appreciate what the behavior is communicating. As Dr. Cohen says, "our children want us and need us to loosen up." An important part of this is getting down on the floor, literally, and looking at the world from the point of view of children. It is remembering what it felt like to be a little person walking around in a world full of these giant adults, grown-ups who rush around obsessed with the boring details of rules.

    I've been fortunate to have this kind of playfulness modeled for me at my children's pre-school. I've described the preschool to friends, it is a co-op school, and they've joking labeled it `hippie pre-school.' I, myself, was calling it a free-range school. But I wasn't fully on board in the beginning. It seemed too unstructured. The kids were running around playing, doing what they want. It wasn't at all like other preschools I had visited, which operate more like obedience school for kids. I worried that, the kids are having fun but they aren't being taught anything. And then I finally got it. There's plenty of time in childhood later to sit in chairs and be a passive learner, plenty of time to learn your ABC's and math in the grade school years. The important tasks of preschool really should be social learning, learning to interact with other kids, learning to interact with adults who are parents or teachers, and nurturing the spontaneous creative play the comes naturally for all us until it has to be squelched, unlearned in the later grades.

    I could go on and on, there are chapters in the book dealing with more specific situations that parents struggle with, discipline issues, sibling rivalries, safety issues, setting limits... all that stuff. Just a great book that provides a different perspective on parenting, explained in a way that- while appreciating the realities of our daily lives- when put into practice is refreshing and helpful for parents and children. It's also a lot of fun.


    ...more info
  • playing with dinosaurs driving you crazy? read this !
    I had thought a lot about what parenting was going to mean for me and how I was going to go about it. I read a lot of different books covering all areas in great detail and discussedit with my partner. When my son arrived the experienced surpassed the greatest of expectations. Being the mother to a baby was just wonderful. BUT THEN one day, our baby was a boy who wanted to PLAY. He really showed that he needed me to get down on the floor and PLAY with him and his toys. I was totally unprepared for this. I could do it for a bit, but then after a while I was exasperated and he was restless. After some time of games like putting all the farm animals in the correct part of the plastic barn and pretend feeding them and putting them to sleep, it was just SO BORING and I couldn't think of what to do next. I felt terribly guilty about checking my watch throughout and then I felt like I was the most boring and unimaginative person ever. I felt there was obviously some wonderful world of fantasy and fun he was in which I as an adult had lost. For the first time I felt disconnected from him. After a few pages of this book, I got down on the floor with my son and played with gusto. I loved it and I could tell that my son was enjoying it. He was only one year and a half at the time. His eyes lit up and at the end of one game that same afternoon he really just looked at me into my eyes with some new curiosity and he stopped repeatedly and intermittently to give me huge hugs in a way which he had never done before.They were not the regular cuddly hugs, but more like "this is new, we're having fun together aren't we?" hugs. We'd started a new way of being together. The book affected not only the way we play together but it introduced for me a whole new way of being a parent which has made it even more rewarding for me. I felt that I had (as much as I could !) really got to grips with what I wanted to do in terms of the attachment parenting issues, "disciplining", communication, connecting and all the practical parts of parenting, but here was the fun and the drive to infuse ALL of those areas. Each page is packed with intelligent thought-provoking ideas and sometimes very serious issues, all of which are embedded in such simple and funny anecdotes from his own practice that there is never a dry or "heavy" moment. There are suggestions HOW to play, how to enjoy it as a parent and how to make the most of it for your child as well as your connection with your child. I also knew that playing was also really important for the development of a child, but I'd just taken this as a given and never spent much thought on what it actually meant. Cohen's ideas about why it is developmentally important opened my eyes. It makes one really think about how to play and Cohen has so many smart ideas about how to use play to contribute as a parent to that development. I know that there are those who really believe that children should "learn" as soon as possible to play by themselves and you might get the impression you have to spend time, which you do not have, playing for ever. But this book is about making the whole of parenting fun and rewarding for everyone. PLUS, a couple of months on, our boy DOES now play by himself (as well as with us) and he is fantastic at initiating games with other children. After all as a parent, you can only be that much fun at the end of the day...He plays loud intense and funny games with his toys by himself and sometimes I have to stop myself from bothering him and joining in. Groundbreaking....more info
  • A fabulous book!
    Get down on the floor and start playing! That's the message of this delightful new book. Dr. Lawrence Cohen explains why a great parent is a playful parent, and how play can be used to build closer relationships between parents and children. I recommend it very highly....more info
  • We liked the concept
    My husband was already practicing "Playful Parenting" but I am sure others would benefit from some of the concepts presented. We have connected with our adopted daughter through playful parenting-she is very attached to us. ...more info
  • I'm all business
    ...at least I feel that way sometimes. At first I felt kind of silly buying this book, but I definitely am happy that I did - I have added it to a small list of books that provide useful parenting tools to me. I have this amorphous idea in my head about what kind of a mommy I want to be (I have a 17 month old son, and we're trying for the next one), but very little in the way of role models and examples to help flesh out that picture. This book is helping me to "get over myself" and be less business like. It has helped me strike a balance between the everyday routine and rituals that are really important for our sanity and the spontaneity that punctuates our day with joy, belly laughs and squeals. It will definitely grow with us, too!

    One thing that really opened my eyes is the idea of undesirable behavior (hitting, biting, or even just anger) as a sort of ham-handed way for your toddler to try to connect with you. The language of answering a hit or some other behavior with a response that lets them know that you "heard" what they are really trying to tell you was fantastic. An example: my son has started going to school 2 mornings a week and is kind of going through a difficult time when I pick him up. When I used the technique from the book, I looked into his eyes and said, "I missed you, too and I am so glad we're together again" I swear he understood what I was saying, and it calmed him. Just as I learned a long time ago that babies' only way of expressing themselves is through crying, I realize now that my son still doesn't have the words to tell me how he really feels, so visceral expressions just make sense to him. I hope that this helps him put words to what he is feeling for the future.

    I think that for new parents and parents of toddlers, especially, but also older children that the chapter entitled "Accept Strong Feelings (theirs and yours)" is actually a serious chapter with a lot of meat to help learn how to express and feel emotions, and deal with them in a healthy way.

    5 stars because I was pleasantly surprised - even the material that seemed like it's been dealt with before is viewed in a refreshing new, playful way....more info
  • This is a great book and a wonderful new outlook!
    I do, however, *highly* disagree with Amazon.com matching it with 1-2-3 Magic as something to buy at the same time. I've read both books and they are extremely different in their views on parenting and discipline! I cannot imagine that Mr Cohen would appreciate the pairing, either.--Editing this to add that I am glad to see that Amazon.com is no longer pairing it with 1-2-3 Magic!

    Playful Parenting is an awesome book and I encourage every parent to read it and apply it. Your relationship with your child/ren will never be the same....more info

  • A compassionate approach for children as well as parents
    I had read through this book and sensed deeply how compassionate the author felt towards the children and parents. He understands how difficult it is to grow up as well as how difficult it is to raise happy and healthy children. He repeatedly emphasize the importance of staying connected with children and supplied wonderful examples for how to do it in difficulty situations. I was so touched by the authout's compassion and decided to lighten up. IT WORKS! I saw the twinkles in my 7-year-old son's eyes! After we had several episodes of laughing and giggles in the times that would have called for "disciplines" I felt my son's attitude changed. He was so willing to be cooperate and more understanding. Boy, I am not going to lament about why I did not read this book any earlier. What I am going to do is to read it as many times as possible until this approach becomes as natural to me as breathing. Thank you, Mr. Cohen. ...more info
  • An Incredible Book About Play!~!~!~!
    I loved this book and it helped me understand kids so much more, even thought I am around them all day. I play with my friends, and now I really understand how play works, and what everything means when certain people do certain things. I REALLY loved this book and I recommend it to everyone in the world who ever interacts with kids....more info
  • easy ways to solve behavior problems and to get connected
    This book is excellent, so much more than what I had expected. A must-read for all parents.

    The premise of the book is that children need a strong connection with their parents in order to have good self-esteem, self-confidence, happiness and good behavior. The author is a play therapist that feels that the key to getting and staying connected with our children aged three through the teen years is through play. If you think your child has great behavior then following the ideas in this book will still help foster close connections and reduce the minor issues such as whining, begging, etc. The author contends that simply by spending time playing with our children with the child in control of the nature of the play, that a strong connection can be made. Specific ideas for play "tactics" are given when the parent wants to solve some particular problem or fear.

    The gist of the book is that at about age 3 and up children are in the play mode, they like to play, want to play, need to play. They also at this time live in a world where they feel powerless or isolated at least some of the time, even in the best family situations. The theory is that they have "cups" that fill with love and sometimes when feeling isolated or powerless the cups run low and need refilling. When the cup is low the negative behaviors begin. The author feels that at these ages 3 through teen years, the fastest and most effective way to fill the love cup is by playing with your children. Most of his examples are with the work he has done with his child and his patients. He tells of certain games that can be played to overcome
    this or that, such as how to deal with the child who wants to play guns and shoot at the parent, how to deal with swearing, what to do when the child is hyper and aggressive, etc. He made this seem so very simple that I didn't believe it would work. I also at first, didn't want to think my own children would ever need this. But I started using it immediately with my 4
    YO and it DOES WORK.

    The author discusses the negative issues of permissiveness and the negative aspects of the opposite extreme of over-strictness/authoritarian style of discipline. Regarding punishment methods, the author also is against yelling, threatening, or using verbal abusive techniques such as shaming as well as physical methods such as hitting in any way or spanking. He is also against using time-outs for punishment and explains why they don't work but instead foster more feelings of isolation and detachment. He discusses why letting a baby "cry it out" should not be done. The author is also against behavior modification tactics such as rewards and bribes, giving a brief overview of why they fail in the end, then he suggests reading "Punished by Rewards" for more detailed information.

    The author is supportive of attachment in infancy and continuing throughout the teen years. The author interestingly enough never mentions actions to be taken in infancy that would secure an attachment. If you are looking for ways to foster this attachment in your birth through two year old I would recommend books on the subject of attachment parenting such as "The Baby Book" or "The Discipline Book", both written by William Sears MD and his wife Martha Sears RN. However, "Playful Parenting" expands on the information outlined by the Sears' and this book gives more tools and techniques while the essence of this book flows seamlessly from the philosophy as the Sears'.

    Unlike other parenting book author "experts", Cohen is able to give the special perspective of a psychologist and really gives some useful information, psychological-wise, on the importance of fostering a close connection with our children and how and why these exercises (play therapy) can and does work. Cohen does not use psychological terminology and the writing style is easy for parents to read and understand. While some other parenting books identify certain behaviors as "normal" for this age or that age, Cohen cites these behaviors as signals that the child is in need of some attention (via play) and once given, the behavior stops. (I recently read a parenting book by psychologists that simply listed multiple negative behaviors as normal for that age. I prefer Cohen's book because he cites the reason for it and suggests solutions.)

    He talks about power struggles and about parents who don't like to play,
    that are serious all the time or preoccupied and begs parents to loosen up
    and play with the kids.

    Near the end of the book he does discuss individual issues of importance
    such dealing with children's sex play, sibling rivalry, gun play, etc.

    Lastly, I'd like to add that Cohen admits throughout the book that as a parent he is not perfect and that he even has to sometimes push himself to get down and play Barbie games with his daughter. He does not write with a holier-than-thou attitude. I've done a lot of reading about parenting but have never read anything as great as Cohen's theory and ideas for parenting the three-plus year old....more info

  • A truly excellent book
    Mr. Cohen brings to light important and practical ways to get closer to your children. This book -- based both on sound research and everyday applications -- will be a great help to any parent who desires closer bonds with their child. After all, parenting should be fun and Cohen teaches the reader how be a thinking and playful companion to a child....more info
  • Great Book
    I love this book!!!!!!

    I read Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn and loved it, but I felt I needed ideas on alternatives to punishments and rewards because you can't always reason with a 2 year old. This book was just what I needed. It has given me great ideas on handeling situations with my toddler. Instead of things turning into a power struggle we are now being silly and laughing....more info
  • Not just for the NEW Parent
    Ok, I'll admit it. Judging from the results, I thought I was a pretty great mom. My 20 year old and my 13 year old are both bright, mature, responsible, independent human beings.
    But now, being the 43 year old mom of an "oops baby" 16 month old, has allowed me to give it one more try. And I thought the one thing I had really lacked before was being more playful with my kids. So naturally, I bought this book.
    The first thing I want to say is, I could only take the book in small doses. Not that it wasn't written well, but after only a little while, it started to sound all the same and I started to tune out. (I think I also read 3 novels along with this book, in the time it took me to finish this).
    Having said that, I think I am really glad it took me so long to read it. The things in the book have really stayed with me.
    I have always been from the school of natural consequences (and still am, really) but this book made me think about different ways to discipline and the reasons behind the acting out in the first place (generally a disconnect somewhere- He has a great analogy of the child's cup needing to be filled with love and connection).
    I don't agree with a previous review about it being for kids over 3. In fact I think this would a be a GREAT gift for a baby shower.
    I have an example from just last night. My husband came home from work. My 16 month old is a real daddy's girl, but last night she for the first time did not rush over to him to be picked up. In fact she wouldn't go to him at all. Before reading this book, I wouldn't have thought much about this. My husband started to get a little irritated "Ok, fine I'll just eat dinner, I'm starving blah, blah blah..". I immediately said, "she is feeling rejected because she doesn't get to see you much during the week, so she is doing the only thing she can with her 16 month old mind, she is rejecting you first." Where the heck did that come from? Also I said that if we let this go tonight, it would just get worse every night and pretty soon she would saying, Daddy who?
    So I said, "You really need to get down on the floor and connect with her, now, so we can stop this in its tracks" So he did and said, "Ok now what?" cause she still would not even look at him. I did the first thing that came to mind. I took the nearest piece of cloth I could find (a placemat) and did the "where's Daddy?" peek-a-boo. Magic. She started giggling and playing with him and the evening was saved.
    Duh, simple you say? Yeah, maybe. That is was playful parenting is all about. But I really would not have thought to do that if I had not read the book. My husband thought I was a genius (Ok, I didn't tell him I got it from the book!)
    One more thing. The author really gets that playing with the kids can be boring, time consuming, and worse. And he talks about his mistakes in this process too. He does not in any way talk down to the reader. ...more info
  • The BEST Parenting Book Around
    I whole heartedly recommend this book to ALL parents. Dr. Cohen's ideas completely changed the tone of our household. We were going through a very difficult phase with our 3 year old that was turning into a downward spiral of negativity. Nobody liked the way things were going. We'd read a mountain of "discipline" books, none of which was helpful in our situation. However, reading & following through on Dr. Cohen's book helped us completely turn our situation around - we now have a very HAPPY, joy-filled and fun home. Using the suggestions in this book I was better able to understand my daughter's behavior and I used many of his suggestions to connect with her. She has literally *blossomed* under this treatment - she's just a fantastic, happy little girl.

    I am SO grateful to Dr. Cohen - he has helped me to become a much, much better parent and has given us a whole arsenal of wonderful parenting tools to help shape our children in very positive ways. If I could pick only one book on parenting and discipline, this would be it....more info

  • The only parenting book anyone needs past age 1.
    Wow. There's no real way to describe how deep and rich this book is. The basic concept is so simple, and even just reading the first chapter changed my attitude toward interacting with and disciplining my toddler. But then the more you read the more you really understand just how desperately kids need and want our connection, and that many of the traditional ways of disciplining kids (even "positive parenting" methods like time-outs) just create distance and can backfire.

    So, of course it works with a toddler. I mean, the biggest problems with toddlers are changing their diapers without fits and getting them to stop throwing food off the high chair. But it also works with older kids. I've been trying the tips out on all the bigger kids at the playground and have been amazed at the results. It's basically just reframing the way you see kids and what their motivations are.

    Some reviewers have commented that Cohen talks too much about what he's done. Well, of course he has! He's a therapist who uses play. By telling his own stories about what he's done with clients and with his own daughter, it gives you examples of how to think on your feet and figure out what a kid needs without being a therapist yourself.

    I have been recommendiing this book to every I know, even people who aren't parents but just interact with kids. I just think that if everyone who deals with kids could read this book it would make everything so much easier and more fun for the adults *and* the kids. And that we'd all have closer connections with our family members. So this is going to be my standard gift for people having children from now on. It's definitely worth the money....more info

  • Could be better
    It was a little hard to read-but it had some good ideas....more info
  • Great book!
    I enjoyed this book so much that I actually ordered 3 more for friends and family. Mr. Cohen does a wonderful job of reminding us there is a reason for every behavior (even whining!) and to find those reasons. There are some great tips on how to incorporate play into almost any situation. ...more info
  • Really only for little kids
    The book is severely lacking in ideas for any child over the age of 10.

    Most of the "playful parenting" ideas are targeted towards toddler/preschool through early elementary years, with very little beyond that age group.

    More than half the book is about him and his daughter, or him and his child patients. Although I'm not sure how old his daughter is now, it seems like she was pretty young when he wrote the book; so we don't know how what kind of person she grows up to be. He doesn't really offer any long-term benefit of playful parenting, such as, will the child grow to be a respectful, functioning human being.

    The children he "plays" with seem quite verbally abusive to him. He says that it is alright, go along with it because a 4 year old calling you poopyhead or idiot means that is how they feel. Instead of correcting them in a friendly way, turn it into a game where they continue to call you the bad name. What kind of advise is that? At what point in his playful parenting approach does the children learn positive social interaction and appropriate behavior?

    It is a good book if you have little kids and you don't know how to play with them, or have kind of a "stuffy" or overly strict personality, but beyond that, it might be better to look somewhere else for parenting advice....more info
  • Poorly organized, though helpful anecdotal information
    I felt that better organization would have improved the reading experience. Much skimming was needed to locate information most relevant to my child and I.

    Although I agree with much of what the author presents, and have put some ideas into practice, what I read was awfully anecdotal and specific to a select group of children....more info
  • this book is awesome
    I am so glad I found this book in a local library. However, it is so chock full of ideas to use that I think I need to buy it, because my child is just a baby now and I need to remember the many ideas as she grows. I will be re-reading it often I can tell. There's a lot in this book, all helpful, and especially touching is his advice on what not to do. As a child, my parents thought locking me in my room was good discipline. I don't forget that and needless to say our relationship is not good to this day. It's hard reading this book because my parents did a lot of the things he highlights as things to avoid, and I have to put the book down often because it's too much to digest emotionally. I wish I had had an ideal childhood, but this insightful book can help me ensure that I don't repeat those mistakes. I'm very thankful I came across it....more info

 

 
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