Check in With This: Control The Mood At Home

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(Image courtesy of squarespace)

Wondering how to interrupt the cycle of whining, dawdling, nagging, yelling? Want an easy way to lift the mood and reconnect with your child?  There's nothing like to ease tension and create closeness.

I know, you can't bear the idea of one more game of Barbie or action heroes.  I'm with you.  I'm talking about physical play.  Yes, I know you're tired (you're a parent, of course you're tired!).  But these games will get your energy going and fill your cup, as well as your child's.  How? 

1. Get goofy and get the giggles going. Giggling is as good as crying to let off tension -- and lots more fun! Young children love the incongruity of funny voices. And they're still learning to manage their own bodies, so they find it hilarious when grownups fall down. Don't tickle kids unless they ask, and keep it mild. Tickling produces involuntary giggles, but it can also make kids feel powerless.) 

2. Get your energy going with a chase game. Chase your bumble so you can't catch him, or catch him briefly but let him get away. Emphasize your incompetence by loudly announcing your prowess: "I'm a superhero. Nobody gets away from me!" -- then trip and fall down! Kids feel small, incompetent and powerless much of the time. Turning the tables helps them release anxiety and feel better about themselves. 

3. Convince your child on a very deep level that you LOVE him by chasing him, hugging, kissing, then letting him get away and repeating -- again and again. "I need fix...You can't get awayI have to hug you and cover you with kisses...oh, no you got awayI'm coming after you...I just have to kiss you more and hug you more...You're too fast for me...But I'll never give love you too muchI got you...Now I'll kiss your toes...Oh, no, you're too strong for meBut I will always want more Michael ...." This is my favorite game, guaranteed to transform your child's doubt about whether he's truly loved (and any child who is "misbehaving" harbors that doubt). 

4. Defuse aggression with a pillow fight. Toddler hitting you or the baby? Preschooler whacking playmates? Siblings squabbling? Teenager ignoring you? The answer is mock aggression in the form of a pillow fight. Show your teen you can still have fun together by dumping pillows on her head (gently) as you issue a pillow-dueling challenge. Get the kids to bond by teaming up against you. Let your preschooler experiment with aggression by hitting you with the pillow while you squeal and "try" to hit back. Help your toddler feel powerful by clobbering you with the pillow while you try to escape, howling in mock terror. End the pillow fight by submitting (with loud protest) to your child's powerful pillow-fighting skills and collapsing together for big hugs and snuggles. 


After fifteen minutes of play, you'll be amazed how your child cooperates for the rest of the evening. And how much sweeter parenting feels to you.

Edited by Jonathan Printers (@jayarep)

Written by Dr. Laura Markham (@drlauramarkham_ahaparenting)

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