When the day is dragging my 14 month old daughter Ruby and I always go out into the garden so she can go on the swing. It’s turned into a fun game, in which I try to make her giggle as she swings. She finds it really funny if I run up from a distance and give her a big push, or if I sing in a funny voice, as she swings back and forth.
We always find something to laugh about and the swing seems to add in an extra giggle factor. She likes to take off her hat and throw it while I beg her not to, and she finds it really funny if I fall over when the swing comes towards me. These games are what Hand in Hand Parenting call Playlistening, where we take the less powerful role in play that makes our child laugh. This helps children relax, and release the tension caused by fears and anxieties. For instance when I fall over, it taps into her struggles with learning to stand and walk, and the fear of losing her balance. Playing these sorts of games on a regular basis helps our children gain in confidence, and take developmental leaps.
I’ve noticed that it’s much easier to find things to make Ruby laugh just before naptimes and bedtimes, as if she’s releasing tension through laughter, so she can sleep better.
Laughter has many documented health benefits, such as lowering stress hormones, releasing endorphins, and it is a great boost for the immune system. And, what is interesting is that fake laughter has just the same benefits. Even if I feel tired and exhausted, I always try to laugh along with her. It’s never very long before all the tension of my day has drifted away too. I love the feeling of connection we get when we’re laughing together, how all the battles of parenting dissolve and we are just enjoying each other’s company.
You can read more about playlistening here, http://www.handinhandparenting.org/news/56/64/Playlistening