How Letting Our Children Make A Mess Builds Co-operation


When I told my daughter I was writing up these ‘giggle games’ to share with you all she suggested, ”the child pulls books off the bookshelf!” It’s funny she suggested this as when she was a baby she loved to pull the books off the bottom shelf. I never did get round to replacing them with toys as one friend suggested I did. I just let it slide.

Back then I knew her book pulling was exploratory behaviour. But what about when our children get older and ‘know’ better. Well when they’re feeling well-connected, they won’t act off-track and randomly pull books off the bookshelf, but if they’re feeling a bit disconnected or something has happened to upset them then they might just use pulling a few books off the shelf as a coded message to tell us, ”help I’m not feeling good.”

So you could let your child pull books off a bookshelf and then pretend to act all annoyed, and they get really giggly and love being ‘naughty’ and do it again and again. All that laughter is your child’s natural way to release stress and tension, so they can get back to think clearly and being co-operative.

But perhaps you don’t want your books to get bashed around. In which case you can keep the fun going, but redirect your child to a box of toys, or a drawer full of clothes. In this post I explain why letting kids be ‘naughty’ in a controlled way is really allowing them to get their off-track behaviour out of their system so that they can return to their natural, co-operative self.

When my daughter was adjusting to going to playgroup she’d often go over to the fridge, and pull all the magnetic letters off. I wasn’t worried about them getting damaged so I went along with the game, pretending to be annoyed in a playful way, and putting them back on just so she could take them off again. I knew her behaviour this was a sure sign that she was feeling disconnected and needed my attention. And I knew that play was the best way we could reconnect.

So when your child is acting off-track you can redirect to let the fun continue, and with every giggle they’ll be closer to being their natural, good, co-operative self again.

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