Giggle Parenting Inspiration: Soft Toy Drop

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Last night I was reading my daughter a story before bed, and she seemed fidgety and wriggly. Oh dear I found myself thinking, she’s not tired enough for sleep. And then of course I remembered, Giggle Parenting!

We have a big pile of soft toys in our bedroom and I suggested that she grab a pile of them and run and drop them at her dads feet where he was tidying up in the kitchen. She loves to do this as a ‘Giggle Game’ and her dad always playfully pretends to be annoyed about how the toys suddenly appear as she runs away.

Then we hide under the bed while he chases her to throw the toys back. It’s a lot of fun and laughter, and the perfect way to release last minute energy before bed.

Repeat the game as long as everyone’s got the energy and some laughter-induced sleep will soon follow.

For more suggestions on how to use Giggle Parenting to help with bedtime read The Benefits of Laughter At Bedtime 

And if your’e wondering how on earth letting your children be cheeky at bedtime can be a parenting technique, then check out my blog post here Why You Should Let Your Children Be ‘Naughty’ 

A Giggle Parenting Cure For Grumpy Mornings

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This morning my daughter woke up thinking it was Saturday and was most disappointed to find out it wasn’t! Uhoh I thought, finding myself going into an inner dialogue of whether school was really the right choice, and wishing it was still the holidays.

Then a thought sprung into my mind. My daughter was wrapped in a rug on the sofa, and I started telling her, ”if you don’t get dressed soon, I’ll have to take you in this rug, and then the teacher will ask, is this a flying carpet, because no flying carpets are allowed in school, and then you’ll say abracradabra, and the rug will start flying in the sky with all your friends on it. And the teacher will say, come on down, it’s time to sit in the circle, no flying carpets are allowed in school!”

She was laughing a lot at this scenario and after that happily went to get dressed.

It’s so easy for us to get triggered by our child’s grumpiness, to go off into our own grumpy, despairing thoughts. Our own thoughts make our child’s mood much bigger than it needs to be.

Even after five years of using this laughter tool I’m still amazed at how quickly it transforms things. One of the things I like about telling stories, is just how limitless our imagination is, how we can use it to conjure up stories and outlandish situations to make our children laugh, and diffuse the tension.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you can use the power of words to get laughter going with your kids.

Here’s a few suggestions for inventing silly stories.

  1. Have the children in the more powerful role. In my story the children have the power. They’re flying on a carpet while the teacher is frustrated and helpless, trying to get them to come back down. It’s so different to the norm where children often have their days dictated by adults feel that it helps to diffuse tension.
  2. Include adults doing silly things that are quite out of character. Children love it when adults start doing ridiculous things. So perhaps you make up a story where dad goes to the supermarket and ends up the moon instead, or mum starts building an aeroplane to take the kids to school. Or a doctor ends up baking a cake instead of checking the patients, and then gives everyone cupcakes instead of medicine.
  3. Tie the stories to the challenges you’re facing in the moment – So if your child won’t clean their teeth, maybe you sit and tell them a story about a giant toothpaste tube, that got delivered and when you squeezed it the whole living room filled up with toothpaste, or if they are finding it hard to wind down to sleep, so you create stories about beds, that won’t stay still and keep trying to fly out of the window on adventures, while you – the frustrated parent try to make everything go smoothly again.
  4. Take time to relax and laugh yourself – If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, then take some time to nurture yourself and have a good giggle, whether it’s with a friend, listening partner, or watching a comedy show. This helps us tap in and exercise our humour muscle so the jokes start flowing.

For more ideas about giggles can transform your family life check out the archives on my blog, or sign up in the top right-hand corner, for regular inspiration.

Giggle Parenting: Long Distance

 

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Photo Credit: DvvortyGirl

Have you ever been away from your child and wished that you had a way to deeply connect long distance? This has been at the forefront of my mind over the last few months when I’ve had quite a few trips away from my daughter.

A while back I read this story from Hand in Hand Parenting instructor Ceci Hyoun which is a great example of how it is possible to use the tool of playlistening ( what I call Giggle Parenting) long distance.

One of our favourite games evolved when I was away, and my daughter had a lot of big feelings, which were coming up in her not wanting to talk to me. She hung up the phone on me! So I rang back, acting all playfully surprised and ‘upset’ and let her hang up the phone on me again and again. This really made her laugh, and after laughing away some of hurt feelings we were better connected again and could have a conversation.

On a recent trip away from my daughter I skyped each day to keep in touch and we played this game a lot. I also found a few other ways to get the giggles flowing. One time, I rang up and she was eating crisps, so I started trying to reach out my hand to get the crisps, and saying, ”hey! Don’t eat them all, save some for when I get back!” Or I would come up close to the camera and say, ”I just need to take a look what’s going on”, and start trying to look at what was happening at home. Or as my husband always forgets to brush my daughter’s hair while I’m away, I started telling her I was going to use my skype hairbrush to brush it, and acting all confused when I tried it and it didn’t work.

If you need to take a trip without your children and are worried about staying connected, why not bring a bit of Giggle Parenting into your conversations. Just focus on any kind of silly, playful conversation that puts you in the less powerful role, and gives your child the power. Any thing that gets your child laughing, especially if it plays around with the distance between you, can help them deal with separation anxiety.

Here are a few examples:

-If you ring and your child’s still in their pyjamas, then why not try to get them dressed. Search around for their clothes and act all surprised when you pick up your own clothes and wonder where their ones are.

-Eat a snack while on the phone to them, and then try to send them some, and then act all confused when they don’t receive it.

-Or if they seem a bit grumpy and off-track, you could even invite them to hang up the phone on you by saying in a playful tone; ”I really hope you don’t hang up the phone on me…”

Giggle Parenting long distance has really helped my daughter and I stay emotionally present when I’m far away, which really helps the reconnection process when I return.

To read more about Giggle Parenting check out my introductory post here, or the laughter chapter of my book Tears Heal: How to listen to our children

 

 

How A Walk In The Forest Can Be Therapy For Kids

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I didn’t enjoy family walks as a child. There seemed to be nothing more boring than walking in a straight line for hours on end. I’m sure I spent a lot of the time moaning and whining, and being left behind as my parents were caught in a power struggle with me refusing to move.

I’m pretty sure it was these memories that made me reluctant to inflict the same thing on my own daughter. And yet all around me parents were happily going off on hikes with their children. We live in a small village surrounded by hills and forest, and on the weekends the place is filled with families happily hiking.

I can remember when my daughter was 2 years old we went for a lovely walk along a coastal path in Scotland. There were three older children who all had great fun taking care of her along the way, and she walked almost non-stop for about 4 hours! That gave me an indication of how long kids can walk if they feel in the mood for it!

As I’ve learnt more about children’s emotions, I’ve learnt that hiking can not only be fun for kids, it can also be like therapy. Here’s why:

It was something that Ariadne Brill of Positive Parenting Connection said that made me realise what was going on when my daughter complained about walking. She told me how she began to realise that the movement of walking was causing emotions to rise to the surface in her kids and then they began telling her about them.

When our children start moaning about how tired they are, and how they don’t want to walk any further, and how they hate walking, we can take their words at face value, perhaps they really are overtired.

But often, what’s happening is something called the The Broken Cookie Phenomenon. When children’s feelings bubble up, and they can’t think straight. The part of their brain responsible for rational thinking and language, literally doesn’t function well when children (and adults!) are upset. This means they may not be able to articulate the real reason they are upset in the moment, and so they’ll tend to pin it on the nearest thing: i.e the walking.

When my daughter started Kindergarten she really liked to have lazy afternoons at home. But after a while I began to think that although she needed less stimulus in the afternoon she might need some physical exercise. She’s always been a night owl and took a long time to wind down for sleep. I was having to wake her each morning. I really wanted her to wake naturally so her body could get all the sleep she needed.

After reading this article about sleep from Dr. Laura Markham I thought an afternoon walk might tire her out.

My daughter didn’t like the idea of a walk but somehow we got into a roleplay with her doll Kira, and her mum Avinda. Kira kept complaining that she didn’t want to go for a walk, while Avinda told her she would have to as it would help her sleep. Somehow we managed to get out of the house with my daughter projecting her reluctance onto career instead.

After a few minutes of walking though, my daughter began crying. I staylistened to her, stopping walking, and getting down on her level. I acknowledged her feelings, and told her we’d try to go a little further, and that I was sure she could do it. After a few minutes of crying, she asked for me to pretend Kira didn’t want to walk. We had a lot of fun and laughter (The Hand in Hand Parenting tool of playlistening) with Kira landing on the ground and refusing to go any further.

We ended up walking up a hill and down again at which point my daughter said, ”this walk has given me more energy!”

The next time we went hiking my daughter also cried and was reluctant for the first 20 minutes. I just kept listening to her, and sure enough, after the tears were over she was filled with energy and happy and enthusiastic about her hike.

These days when I suggest a hike my daughter is happy and excited. I think she’s gone through the process enough times to realise that if any upset feelings come up she will get through it with my empathy and listening, and end up having a great time. We always bring along her dolls and pack a few snacks.

We are the best judge of our children. We can learn their limits and energy levels. And we can also learn to see through their lethargic moments, and use a ‘listening hike’ as a way to help their bodies and minds feel better.

If you’re looking for some playful ways to help children with their feelings about walking check out 15 Playful Ways To Get Children To Walk

And if you’d like to learn more about The Broken-Cookie Phenomenon and how children need our listening to process their emotions check out my book Tears Heal: How to listen to our children

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Giggle Parenting For Sharing

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Here’s a fun game to play when a young child keeps taking toys off an older child. We played this with my daughter (5) and a friend’s daughter who is 2. The 2 year old kept taking toys off my daughter and my friend and I had to intervene constantly.

I suddenly had an idea. I whispered to my daughter to pretend to play with something, and then we would make a ‘giggle game’ where we would let her take it away, and then chase her and pretend we want it back.

As the two year old grabbed the toy, I exclaimed ”hey! I want that!” in a playfully annoyed tone. My daughter and I chased her, and she loved running away and hiding from us. I repeatedly tried to grab the toy, but always let her keep it. Through smiles and a playful tone to my voice I made  sure everyone knew it was a fun playful game, and for the purposes of the game she was ‘allowed’ to take toys. Cue lots of giggles and everyone in a much better mood.

Afterwards I noticed some sweet things; the younger girl gave my daughter dinner from her play kitchen, and started actually giving my daughter toys to play with!

It was so wonderful to see how a few giggles can dissolve the tension behind sharing struggles. And me and my friend even got to enjoy some conversation!

For more info about Giggle parenting check out Giggle Parenting: The Best Discipline Tool Out There! And if you’re interested to know more about how Hand in Hand Parenting helps with sharing struggles read It’s All Mine! Helping Your Child Learn About Sharing

 

Giggle Parenting For When Your Child Makes A Mess

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Here’s a simple game to play after your child’s been playing/using something and leaves it abandoned on the floor, or doesn’t put it back. Put yourself in the role of the object and run after them saying something like this, ”hey, I’ve been abandoned and I’m all alone, please help me!”

You’ll probably find your child enjoys running away and giggles, and that those giggles can help them feel more like co-operating and putting the object back. You can keep role-playing as the object, chasing them and playfully pleading with them to be put back in the right place.

They might like to chase for a while before that happens, but all that play and connection is a great way to build co-operation not just in the moment, but as investment in their future co-operation. As we say with Hand in Hand Parenting ”connection builds co-operation.”

After some time playing you might find it more useful to move in and set a limit in a more ‘serious’ way, but still with lots of warmth and connection. You can read more about how we set limits with Hand in Hand Parenting in this free e-book.

If you are looking for more fun ways to get your children to tidy up check out my list here! 

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Giggle Parenting For Getting Up In The Morning

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As I talked about in my previous post, I’m trying to adjust my daughter’s sleep so that she can wake naturally for Kindergarten in the morning rather than me having to wake her. Until that happens we’ve thought of a fun way to start the morning off and get the giggles flowing; a radio alarm clock!

My daughter’s eyes lit up when I said we could get a free radio alarm clock with our Co-op supermarket points, and that could wake her up instead of me. She doesn’t really like to talk to me for the first few minutes of waking up and prefers to be left alone.

Then I realised there is a much more modern version. I downloaded an alarm clock app (bedr alarm clock radio in itunes) for my phone which will wake you up with a choice of hundreds of different radio stations from around the world. If you don’t like the idea of mobile rays floating around your sleeping child’s brain then you can also put it on airplane mode and choose songs from your own itunes selection.

This morning my daughter started dancing around happily the instant she woke up and heard the music. Then I put the alarm on snooze but didn’t tell her. A minute later the music started up again. I acted all surprised and confused saying, ”Hang on, what’s going on. I thought I turned that off.” My daughter started dancing again and laughing at my confusion. ”Okay, let me try again,” I said. ”I’m sure it must be off now,” and then I snoozed the alarm again. Cue lots of laughter and dancing as I repeatedly snoozed the alarm while pretending I was trying to turn it off.

If your child struggles with morning grumps, but loves music and dancing, then try this to wake up! I hope it helps your day start smoothly 🙂

Would you like to learn more about Giggle Parenting? Check out my introductory post here, Giggle Parenting: The Best Discipline Tool Out There!

Do you have a parenting challenge you’d like a giggle parenting solution to? Check out my Giggle Parenting Archives for solutions to common family challenges. If your problem isn’t listed, then leave me a comment or pm me via facebook and your challenge could be the subject of my next blog post! 

Giggle Parenting Inspiration – The I’m Tired Game

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You may have noticed that when children say ”I’m tired,” they may not always mean it exactly. It could also be, ”I’m starting to feel some uncomfortable feelings, and I can’t think of any other way to tell you.”

If you’re walking along somewhere and your child starts telling you they’re tired and you suspect that feelings are the real issue then try this game. Chances our their energy will probably reappear in a flash!

On the way back from the park yesterday my daughter was complaining she was tired. I started saying in a playfully tired voice, ”Yeah, I’m tired too, so, so so tired…oh no hang on..I’m not tired, I’m full of energy!” Then I would start running a bit, and then say, ”Oh I can win now! I’m going to win the most energetic race! I hope no-one overtakes me!”

This was just the cue my daughter needed to run ahead to try and be the most energetic one. I stretched my arms out wide to playfully make it more hard to pass and we kept running together. As I made it more challenging for her to get by the giggles really started flowing, and then I let her win.

We repeated the game all the way home. Each time I would let her win (after a bit of a resitstance) so that she could feel her own stress and power and of course laugh at me!

This is the perfect game to release any feelings that are getting in the way of your child feeling their natural vitality. Walking with grown-ups can be hard for children. They may be suddenly aware of how small their legs are, or how out of control they feel being told where to walk and to hurry up!

Adding in some giggle parenting is the perfect way to empower your child, and build their confidence. This ‘running competition’ can also help release real feelings of competitiveness and sibling rivalry.

For 15 more playful tips for getting children to walk check out my post here. To learn more about Giggle Parenting check out Giggle Parenting: The Best ‘Discipline’ Tool Out There! 

Have you got a challenge you’d like the Giggle Parenting solution to? Check out the Giggle Parenting Archives, or send me a pm via Facebook  

Giggle Parenting For Thumb Sucking

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Thumb sucking or using a dummy (pacifier) is a common aspect of child behaviour, and it can seem completely natural for a child to stick their thumb in their mouth, or use a dummy for a substitute. However thumb sucking is usually a sign that your child has some stored feelings that they haven’t expressed, so a listening approach can be really effective.

In Patty Wipfler’s article, ‘no more thumb, no more pacifier‘ she says, With knots of uncomfortable feelings rankling on the inside, their eyes glaze over, and they stop exploring their world… With their thumb or pacifier engaged, they mark time, waiting passively for something to change. A child’s mind is on idle while she sucks her thumb or pacifier. Doctors become concerned about thumb sucking because it can alter the structure of the child’s mouth over time. And pacifiers have been linked to ear infections by some studies. But I think the best reason to decide to help a child with a habit of thumb sucking or pacifier use is to help her regain her enthusiasm for life.

Here’s a giggle parenting game to help.

My daughter initiates lots of games where we roleplay with baby hands and mummy hands. So one day when she was sucking her thumb, I exclaimed in the voice of one of the mummy hands, ”Baby handy! Baby handy! A giant is eating your thumb, quick let me rescue you.”

Then one of the mummy hands would gently pull the baby hand out of her mouth. The mummy hand would say, ”phew! I saved you!” I would repeat this game, making a big deal out of saving the baby hand from the giant. Sometimes one of the mummy hands would very gently tug at her nose or chin. Then the other mummy hand would say, ”hang on mummy handy, that’s not the right, that’s not baby handy!” One time the mummy handy pulled off one of my daughter’s socks instead of pulling the baby hand out of her mouth. My daughter laughed and laughed at these mistakes, and pretty soon voluntarily took her thumb out of her mouth.

So if you’re concerned about thumb sucking, check out Patty Wipfler’s article, and try some giggle parenting. No lectures about teeth or dentists required!

Find our more about Giggle Parenting in my introductory post here

15 Tips For Getting Out Of The House With Kids

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Thanks to Crappy Pictures for this image.

One of the biggest shocks to me as a parent was just how getting out of the house suddenly turned into mission impossible. Speaking to other parents I know I’m not alone in this!

Our children just aren’t born for our busy, modern society. They like to take their time, and get deeply involved in play. It must come as a complete shock to them when we start hurrying them out of the door, and lecturing them about being ‘on time.’

I’d love to live in a world where my daughter could take her time,  where I could just open the back door and she could run out and play with other children all day.

Unfortunately our world is not that simple. Most of us out of necessity have to, at least some of the time, get our children out of the house. And we a have a time limit.

Luckily Hand in Hand parenting has some amazing tools to help us complete this challenge. Follow these steps to get your children out of the house. There are lots of playful tips here so if you use them all you might be in for a very long getting ready process! Incorporate them here and there whenever it seems necessary to add fun and connection into your daily routine.

1. Don’t underestimate the scale of this challenge! – It seems like the simplest thing in the world. Putting on clothes and shoes, opening the door and leaving the house – before having children. Afterwards life will never be the same again. Be easy on yourself, and forgive yourself for the times you’ve snapped and lost your patience. Children’s brain’s aren’t really wired to be rushed about from place to place. But because of our lifestyle’s it’s often a necessity. So, if it gets hard, don’t think of it as some sort of ‘failing’ in you as a parent. Caring for children and their emotional lives is one of the most challenging jobs in the world.

2. Instead, seek support. Get some listening time. When we have a parenting difficulty that recurs day after day we’ll often find that as time goes on more and more feelings build up inside of us. The first step towards change is to have somewhere to take these feelings. Having another adult who can listen as we talk, moan and express how we feel means that these feelings will come up less and less in our life. So have a laugh and a cry about how hard it is to get out of the house. Then notice how your perspective shifts after being listened to. When we clear out our mind of upset we can think more clearly and can often come up with playful and creative ways to deal with the situation.

3. Have lots of connection the day before – Connection helps our children to co-operate with us. If your child feels disconnected you can bet they will tell you about it by refusing to put on clothes, clean teeth etc. Any time we connect with our children it is an investment of time that will make things go more smoothly the next day. Do some special time the day before, and plan for regular roughhousing before bed. Bedtime is the ideal time to add in extra giggles to not only make your child sleep easier, but also give children the connection they need to co-operate the next day.

4. Have a bed party – While your child is sleeping, arrange every single fluffy toy they own on their bed. As your child slowly wakes, make up a silly song like ‘welcome to the bed party,’ and have the toys throw and catch balloons. Do silly thing that make your child laugh.  Perhaps they start trying to lift your child’s pillow up instead of a balloon, or all the toys decide to leave the party by hiding under the pillow. This is the perfect alarm clock for our little ones. You can read more about this idea here.

5. Have a puppet or fluffy toy do the getting ready tasks – After hosting the bed party, have your child choose a toy to get them ready. Have the toy say silly things like, ”now I’m going to take you to the pee-pee otorium,” and ”welcome to the restaurant now I’m going to show you the breakfast choices.” Everything goes a little more smoothly when a friendly toy is the one doing the talking instead of a nagging parent!

6. Have a getting ready song. We like Hit The Road Jack By Ray Charles. If you want to add in some playfulness, you could try pretending the song is making you put on your coat and shoes, but have the song get it all wrong, for example by making you pile ten jumpers on top of you, or put on your child’s shoes.

7. Beat The Clock. Hand in Hand instructor Marilupe De La Calle says, ”We pretend that the clock is an actual person who’s trying to beat us. I say, playfully: “Oh, no! the clock is already eating his breakfast”… and my girls rush to the table. Then I keep going…”He’s putting his shoes on!! quick, put yours on!”…”Oh, he is already in his car!!!”..My girls love to “get him.” We win if we get to our destination on time.

8. Beat The Song From Marilupe De La Calle. Another trick we use is to play a song on the music player and we try to get ready (get dressed, hair done, shoes on) before it’s over. My girls get to choose the song, and this is especially funny when they pick a silly one, like a Christmas song in March.

9. The Confusion Game  Hand in Hand instructor Skye Munroe of Nurturing Connections says,  ”I like to pretend to be confused about the process – things like “ok ok I know we need to get somewhere right now , I just can’t remember what to do … Hmm ok maybe I have to open this big silver thing ( fridge) and it will be able to help me ?”
My gems will then be giggling and saying things like “no no we have to put our shoes and coats on and go out the door” and then I may open a cupboard door or similair – just goofing around so that the kids help ME ( us) get out.”

10. Squeeze in some special time. Even five minute can make a difference as this story from Hand in Hand instructor trainee Isabela Budusan shows. Starting the day with special time can be really effective. If you start the day with a bed party, you’ll already have started the day with a dose of connection, so you might want to move onto doing all the getting ready tasks, and then have special time right before leaving the house.

11. Music Montage from Ariadne Brill of Positive Parenting Connection. One of our favourite ways to get ready without struggles is to do a music montage (just like those fun scenes in movie). We choose one or two favourite songs to get shoes, coats, bags in order and dance and get ready at the same time. When the song is over we meet by the door.

12 The checking game From Ariadne Brill. Something we did when my boys were 2 and 4 years old was an airplane pilot check list. “One shoe on? Check! Another shoe on? Check! Coats? Check! A toy to bring along? Check! Everyone ready? check! Everyone buckled? Check! the children loved this game, especially if we built in silly moments like jump three times to get to the door? Check!!” feel free to edit as you need!

13. Lets leave the house – Put on a playfully serious voice and tell your child it’s time to leave the house. Take them by the hand, and lead them to the door the bathroom, and say, ”oh whoops! That’s not the way out of the house.” Repeat with other doors for different rooms, or wardrobe doors, cupboards etc.

14. Pack a silly bag – Pack a silly bag the night before full of random objects. Start talking about how you need to take this bag for you and how you need to check the objects. Pull out a swimming costume although you’re going to the park, a winter hat and gloves in summer, or some rocks from the garden. Act all surprised and confused as your child laughs and laughs.

15. Make Time For Big Feelings – If your child has a big meltdown at any time during this process it’s counter-productive to try and distract them or stop the tears. There’s a lot of articles out there about how to stop a tantrum, but this is why I recommend going with the flow and allowing feelings. Even if we do end up being late, our child will be in much better emotional shape to enjoy their day when they’ve release those feelings.

I hope these tips help the getting ready process become a joy for you and your children. If you try them out I’d love to hear about how you get on. You can let me know in the comments section below. And if you come up with any fun and playful games of your own I’d love to hear from you too!

A good morning starts with a good night’s sleep! If you need some help in this area check out my 5 Sleep Secrets For Peaceful Nights and Hand in Hand parenting’s online self study course Helping Young Children Sleep

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