Summary and book reviews of Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen

Playful Parenting

A Bold New Way to Nurture Close Connections, Solve Behavior Problems, and Encourage Children's Confidence

By Lawrence J. Cohen

Playful Parenting
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  • Hardcover: May 2001,
    307 pages.
    Paperback: May 2002,
    320 pages.

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Book Summary

Parents have heard that play is a child's work--but play is not for kids only. As psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., demonstrates in this delightful new book, play can be the basis for an innovative and rewarding approach to parenting. From eliciting a giggle during baby's first game of peek-a-boo to cracking jokes with a teenager while hanging out at the mall, Playful Parenting is a complete guide to using play to raise strong, confident children.

Have you ever stepped back to watch what really goes on when your children play? As Dr. Cohen points out, play is children's complex and fluid way of exploring the world, communicating hard-to-express feelings, getting close to those they care about, working through stressful situations, and simply blowing off steam. That's why "playful parenting" is so important and so successful in building strong, close bonds between parents and children. Through play we join our kids in their world. We help them express and understand deep emotions, foster connection, aid the process of emotional healing--and have a great time ourselves while we're at it.

Anyone can be a playful parent--all it takes is a sense of adventure and a willingness to let down your guard and try something new. After identifying why it can be hard for adults to play, Dr. Cohen discusses how to get down on the floor and join children on their own terms. He covers games, activities, and playful interactions that parents can enjoy with children of all ages, whether it's gazing deep into a baby's eyes, playing chase with a toddler, fantasy play with a grade schooler, or reducing a totally cool teenager to helpless laughter.

Playful Parenting also includes illuminating chapters on how to use play to build a child's confidence and self-esteem, how to play through sibling rivalry, and how play can become a part of loving discipline. Written with love and humor, brimming with good advice and revealing anecdotes, and grounded in the latest research, Playful Parenting will make you laugh even as it makes you wise in the ways of being a happy, effective, enthusiastic parent.

CHAPTER 1
THE VALUE OF BEING A PLAYFUL PARENT

Play is the essence of life.
Think about the loving gaze of an infant, the no-holds-barred embrace of a toddler, the intimacy of a shared bedtime story, or a silent hand-in-hand walk. These moments of heartfelt connection with our children are part of the great payoff for the hard work of parenting. Yet this connection all too often eludes us. We find ourselves locked in battle instead of joined in partnership. We all know the rest: the inconsolable baby, the toddler in the throes of a tantrum, the third-grader in a huff over bedtimes, the twelve-year-old sulking in her room.

Children’s natural exuberance and exploration often gives way to what I call “fighting and biting.” Or they hide themselves behind a Gameboy or a locked door. Meanwhile, our profound feeling of parental love is replaced by resentment and aggravation, even rage. We nag or punish, or we say, “Fine, stay in your room.” We yell when ...

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Media Reviews
Library Journal

On the whole, however, this is a sound and useful book. Reminiscent of Alvin Rosenfeld and Nicole Wise's refreshing Hyper-Parenting Are You Hurting Your Children by Trying Too Hard?

Publishers Weekly

The book explores play with compassion, but is often so funny that parents will find themselves chortling out loud with recognition and anticipation.

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