21 February 2012


The Incredible Years. That's what we're living through right now, with our kids.
I've also just begun a parenting course of the same name.
With all my free time now that Scrag is in kindy, and knowing how my attention tends to wander unless focused, I thought it would do my kids good if their mum spent some time learning how to be a better parent.

What did I learn today?
I learnt that I need to play.
Play Play Play.
Get down on the floor and engage. Take ten minutes to be young and silly again.
We learnt all the ways children benefit when we play with them (and by "play" they don't mean the grown-up takes over and does it for them; they mean, child-led play).

Our kids feel valued because we make the time to do something that matters to them.
We learn what goes on inside our child's head.
All kinds of other good things happen when we play with our children.

"Play helps to build a warm relationship and strong attachments between family members and to create a bank of positive feelings and experiences that can be drawn on in times of conflict. Through play, you can help your children solve problems, test out ideas and explore their imaginations. As well, playtime with adults encourages the development of vocabulary so that children can learn to communicate their thoughts, feelings and needs... Play is a time when you can respond to your children in ways that promote feelings of self-worth and competence..."
- from the book "The Incredible Years" by Carolyn Webster-Stratton, PhD

The Incredible Years parenting course has been developed on a solid base of forty years of research by Dr Webster-Stratton. It is very interactive, lots of fun and really gets you thinking.

What are the things that prevent you from playing? we were asked.

I wrote: My boredom, interest in other things, busyness...
I'll admit it, playing wooden trains is not much fun for me once I've built the track.
Playing soccer Match Attacks is not my idea of a good time.
Playing hairdressers is slightly more appealing...
But it's not about me, is it?

We had to write down our memories of games we played as children.
Instantly I could recall my dad playing "the three little piggies" with me and my sister in the woods behind our house, when I was three. We would run and hide in the old shed while he (the Big Bad Wolf) huffed and puffed and pretended to blow our house down while we piggies squealed in terror and delight.

I remember dad being our playground. We slid down his back, had see-saws on his feet, swings in his cupped hands. Donkey rides, where all four of us would pile on and he would jiggle and bump until one by one we all fell off.

Is it surprising that I always felt close to my dad growing up?
He was fun. He played with us. He made us squeal and run and giggle and shriek.

Me, my sisters and Dad, 1975

Mr G is the one in our family that is a play genius. He can turn anything into fun.
Me, I am the sensible one. The one who sees trouble brewing in wrestling matches and who warns: "This will end in tears!"
I am good at reading stories and having deep-and-meaningfuls, but the playing? Not so much.

So my homework this week is to Play.
Ten minutes of child-directed play, with each of my kids.
I even have to record it down.

This will be a challenge for serious busy me, but I have a feeling it's gonna be fun.


What games do you remember playing as a child? How do you go with "child-directed play?" - is this a new concept to you or are you an old hand?

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emma @ frog, goose and bear said...

Maybe i need to do that course too! Stopping to play with your kids can sometimes seem so unproductive in a busy day, but in the big picture - it's so important! Thanks for the reminder!

Partito y Monito said...

What a great idea. I'm going to do it too!

Melissa said...

It sounds like a wonderful course! I remember playing a game we invented called scruffies, which was basically the girly version of wrestling - lots more squealing and giggles! I love playing with the kids. I find that it's a great way to de-stress and also avoid the house cleaning!

Rache said...

I've been lurking for awhile *blush*.
Just wanted to let you know that I did the Incredible Years course last year & it has made a massive difference to our family. I found out what my strengths were - child-directed play was hard for me because I like to be in control, but I am good at praise.

Carey Morris said...

I find 10 minutes of playing with my kids gives me more free time funnily enough. They become engrossed in their play and don't mind you slipping away. It's better than having the kids nagging "Mum, Mum" for 10 minutes while you are trying to do something.

Cheryl said...

I echo your thoughts on why we don't play more... phew! My Mom told me that my Grandma told her "TAKE THE TIME"... this has become my mantra, when I'm cognizant enough to accept it... a few minutes is all they are asking for. And I'm always glad for it at the end of the day.

Anna @ green tea n toast said...

I quite enjoy a good plays session! Not sure what that says about me! I try dedicate a bit of time each day to proper 'play' and then don't feel too guilty the rest of the time for rushing around being busy. Great post and good food for thought.

Stephanie said...

Inspirational yet again Simone!!! Im off to play with the little boy now!

Sophie said...

oooh I struggle with the whole play thing too but I can see how it would be an enormous blessing!

Fox in the City said...

This is a really great post. My husband rocks at playing with the kids . . . me not so much. I admit that I tend to get bored but you are so right . . . it isn't about me at all.

I shall work harder at being a better player because my kids totally deserve that.

hermit said...

... we really need to stop and.... play :)

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