Sometimes as a parent it can be difficult to get our children to engage in activities that we think are important. At these times, it is always worth looking at the activity in question and having a good think about whether it's something we truly need to enforce - after all, our children are people too, and have their own interests and priorities and desires, and if we can cater for those if at all possible, we should be trying to do so. For example, when I was growing up, we weren't allowed to put our elbows on the table when we were eating - once I became a parent, I quickly realised that this was not a tradition I felt I needed to put my energies into upholding! So that was one less area where my children and I needed to get into tussles. But most of us will have some activities that are very important to us - it might be cleaning teeth, finishing an activity so you can be on time to pick an older sibling up from school, or, as we will see from the story below, getting dressed. In these cases, it helps to have ideas to make the activity more palatable to our children - and connecting play is a wonderful way to do this.
This hardworking Journeys in Parenting parent decided to try something new and go playful with a persistent issue she was having around her child getting dressed. She took the role of the less competent person, so that her child could 'get one over on her' - a type of play which we call Playlistening. This kind of play gives power back to the child, and gives them a chance to be the strong, quick or clever one. They know that we are pretending, but they still enjoy fooling us at our own game. And the laughter you share together brings you closer, and children just love it! Here's how this parent did it.
I have been having daily battles with my 3-year-old trying to get him dressed, with him saying he will do it and then saying 'no you do it'. It goes on and on like that and eventually ends in him hiding/screaming. Everything I had been trying before felt like either it didn't allow his feelings, or it did not feel peaceful. Anyway, after getting some great Listening Time in the Starter Class, I was able to be a bit calmer the next day and tried putting his clothes on myself in all the wrong ways (pull-up on head, trousers on arms etc!!) and it worked straight away. He laughed and said 'that's not how you do it. You put them on like this' and then he put them on straight away. This was amazing but I thought I couldn't get away with it a second time as he would realise I was pretending, but I did! The same thing worked the next day!
Further useful articles and stories about getting our children dressed, and other routine situations:
- Getting dressed with humor
- Special Time helps with toothbrushing
- Using the tools to help with toothbrushing
- No more struggles in getting ready for school
- 5 ways to play away parenting struggles
- Start school days with Special Time!
- 15 games for every parenting challenge