If you’ve been reading all about Giggle Parenting on my blog and wondering what on earth I’m talking about you might want to read my introductory post here.
And here are 10 practical tips for how to get started, and make Giggle Parenting a regular part of your life.
- Shift Your Mindset and Prepare Yourself – Giggle parenting begins when we believe it will work. We need to start by letting go (as much as we can!) of the old voices and presumptions about how parenting should be. In order to fully embrace the giggles we need to release any residual thoughts about punishment, rewards, and consequences – the methods often recommended by ‘experts,’ that aren’t nearly as effective as the power of laughter.
- Get Some Listening Time – This helps with n.o 1. Before leaping in and solving a big challenge with giggles, it helps to get some listening time. We could talk about how parenting is going, and reflect back on our own childhood. When we do so we can de-stress so we are less likely to act on automatic pilot, parenting in the way our parents did. We can start afresh with giggle parenting instead!
- Start With Special Time – This can be a great way to warm-up for giggle parenting. Spend 15-20 minutes hanging out in your child’s world, doing exactly what they want. Shower your child with love and attention, and notice the kind of things that make them laugh. Read more about special time here.
- Put Yourself In The Less Powerful Role – Giggle parenting works because it gives children power. When your child has the power to build their confidence and thrive they’ll be less likely to get into ‘petty’ power struggles about teeth cleaning or getting dressed. So when we do giggle parenting we need to focus on giving them the power. No tickling allowed! Focus on anything that makes your child laugh, because they are laughing at you or a soft cuddly toy. Make lots of mistakes. Do silly things. Act confused about what’s going on. Avoid anything fear-inducing where your child is more screaming than giggling. And keep focusing on giving them the power.
- Repeat and Repeat – When you notice something that makes your child laugh. Repeat it, and repeat it and repeat it. Let go of those thoughts about cleaning up, at least for a while. (Although you can use giggle parenting for that too!) It can take time and real effort, but this is really investing time. When your child gets to laugh away stress and tension, they’ll be much less likely to show it in their behaviour later.
- Factor Extra Time Into Your Daily Routine – When you need to get stuff done, factor in extra minutes to allow giggles whenever you can. This is especially important when you first start giggle parenting. Your child will want to soak up all that laughter and play to fill their cup, and release any stress or tension they’ve been carrying. Over time you’ll see this investment ‘pay off.’ You won’t need to play 30 minutes of aeroplane tooth brush games every single time, I promise! Daily tasks will be quicker than they were before, and you’ll have effective tools for when they’re not.
- Get Silly During Struggles (instead of serious) – Giggle Parenting isn’t just for those fun moments when we wind down from the day, and connect and play with our kids. It’s a practical tool to use in power struggles, to get us out of the house, and to dissolve sibling/friend rivalry. This one is easy to forget (I do it too!). When we get stressed we put on a serious voice, tell our child to hurry up, or shout at them for throwing toys etc. This is actually when we need giggle parenting the most. If you can get silly during these ‘serious’ moments, (while still setting limits on what is unacceptable) you’ll begin to notice how fast they turn around.
- Allow All Emotions – Giggle Parenting – (also known as playlistening) is just one of the five tools we teach with Hand in Hand parenting. When we get the giggles flowing we may notice that our children start opening up their emotions, and having small upsets about little things. Giggle Parenting is also about listening to tears, about accepting whatever emotions come. While we can set strong limits on behaviour we should allow all feelings. We can allow our children to cry when they need to, and be there for them, without trying to ‘distract’ or stop them from crying (even with giggles). If your child is on the verge of a tantrum, it’s best to just let it happen rather than try and avoid it. Tantrums are all part of your child’s natural emotion-regulation system, and they’ll soon be back to giggling again!
- Get Some Support For Yourself – Following all the steps outlined in this post is really rewarding. However it can also trigger strong feelings in us. We probably never had this much play and connection as a child, so giving this to our own children can leave us feeling drained. After a day of giggles it really helps to have some listening time to refuel.
- Catch Up On Your Own Giggles – There’s a famous statistic that children laugh 300 times per day but adults only laugh 20 times a day. That’s a lot of laughs to catch up with! So be sure to make some time to catch up on your own giggles. Go to a comedy night, call a friend with a great sense of humour, or simply laugh along with your kids, even if you don’t feel like it at first. It’s been found that ‘fake’ laughing, has all the same physical and emotional effects as genuine laughter, so you can fake it until you make it!
Thanks for reading my tips. I’d love to hear how it goes in the comments below 🙂
Are you wondering how fun and play can be combined with setting limits on children’s behaviour? Check out Hand in Hand’s free setting limits e-book here.