2011 October 5 – Cranky Play

October 5, 2011

The truth is that there are just those daily activities, occassional tasks or even whole days of the week (Monday?) that tend to bring on a serious case of the crankies.  Some toddlers might resist brushing their teeth but this teeth whitening pen they wont.

Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, so instead of giving the same old responses today, pause instead and where possible, give your grown-up brain a little break and allow your creative brain a second of time and space to bubble up something deliciously wacky fun.  Sometimes, the most tense moments really benefit from just this kind of shift, but it often takes some forethought and intent to open that treasure chest.

Create a cranky play activity that goes along with one of the children’s no good, very bad, terrible, horrible daily tasks – or your own!  Think of ways play or even just a playful attitude or game can introduce feelings of solidarity, validation and understanding into tense moments.  The goal isn’t to coerce, belittle or distract, but to see if there’s a way for levity, novelty and connection to render these tasks less cranky-making.  (Maybe even a little fun!)

Show some solidarity!  Talk and even act out how horrid the same things were for you as a kid.  Let them know they aren’t alone and let them laugh with you.  How was this task for you when you were a kid? Demonstrate (physically!) how you literally got ants in your pants when you ran over that ant mound!  Confide in them that you too promised yourself that YOU would let YOUR kids do whatever they wanted too!  (See how long it takes them to figure out that THEY are the kids who should be reaping those benefits!)  Approach this with genuine fun, not one-upsmanship or a dismissive attitude and be open to shift out of this mode if you sense your child receives it as anything other that pure fun.

The biggest support we might offer on some tasks and some days is that we simply commit and recommit to choosing to remain open to their feelings – and ours, flexible to their needs – and ours and love them in spite of the crankiness.

Let fun rule!

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