Saturday 7 December 2013

The Sunday Parenting Party - Respecting play time

I realised the other day that I am a total hypocrite. I am forever sharing posts on Taming the Goblin's FB page about the importance of play, and how play is learning, and how we need to let children play.

But I am willing to interrupt and dismiss Goblin's play at the drop of a hat.

If we are going somewhere and I am ready to go, I will hurry Goblin along with out any thought for the fact he is deeply engrossed in changing the tyres on his lego race car or in the middle of a daring battle between his aircraft carrier and a helicopter. In my mind what he is doing is not important and can therefore be stopped without a care.

When I want him to go up to bed I will tell him to pack up his toys without pausing to ask if he will come to a natural conclusion of his play any time soon. And I realised that often I haven't shared my schedule with Goblin. Often he has no idea why he is being ushered out of the house or why he has to put his coat on right now.

I would never treat Hublet like this. And if I did I wouldn't be surprised if he was very annoyed. And yet I am taken a back time and again when my demands for Goblin to stop his play lead to a melt down.

I realised I am being disrespectful to Goblin. And what's more I am creating unnecessary tension and conflict by not approaching his time as equally important to mine. So its time for me to make a change. It doesn't mean I am never going to leave the house because my son's play takes priority - we are equal members of a family, he doesn't trump my needs, but his needs should be considered.

  • Share the plan for the day
I will let Goblin know in the morning what I have planned for us so he knows where we will be going and roughly when. Hopefully then transitions won't be quite such a surprise.
  • Give count down reminders
Rather than waiting until two minutes before we leave the house to start rushing him, I will give him a ten minute warning that he will need to wind down his play. I'll follow this up with a 5 minute warning, and then a more structured request like "In two minutes I will need you to put your toys away and your shoes on".
  • Offer a compromise
Sometimes when I ask Goblin to stop he says "just one more lap", in future I will try and respect that request and allow him to find a natural conclusion to his play. I will also make more use of our stop watch timer which beeps - Goblin likes to be able to choose the time he has left to play. And at the moment he always chooses 4 minutes, not realising that my offer of 15 minutes was more generous (Mummy win against numerically illiterate child).
  • Take the play with us
Sometimes when we are going to bed I let Goblin take the toy he is playing with upstairs. He will drive his lorry up to the bedroom and park it up. This allows his play to conclude in the vicinity I need him to be in. This also works well with transitions into the car, if he can take a toy with him the transition seems less harsh.
  • Leave space for play
I need to reign in my desire to fill his day with activities and outings, play dates and things to do. He needs breathing space to simply take out his toys and do his own thing. Sometimes when we have had a hard week and he has been less than a delight to be around, a day of quiet creative play will bring him right back to his delightful self. It helps ground him.

Taming the Goblin

Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and Boogers, Play Activities, Crayon Freckles, Taming the Goblin, The Golden Gleam, Prickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)


  1. I love your statement about how you'd never treat your husband that way. I often have to ask myself if I'm treating my son with the respect that I would show my husband. I would never make my husband quit in the middle of his work to do something for me, so why would I make my son? Like you said, his play is his work and I need to be respectful of that.

    I think there is a balance between being respectful of their play and our need to get out of the house (or whatever). It's all about prepping them for the transition and trying to be as respectful as possible so that you can both get your needs met.

    I love your plan! Hope things go well...I bet you will see a huge improvement in behavior!

  2. Really good ways to respect play. Definitely need to take on board not rushing out of the house.

  3. Wonderful suggestions. Bobo asks me to show on my fingers how much longer he has to play or finish up.

  4. It's so easy just to think of kids as extensions of ourselves and not honor what is important to them. These suggestions are great. I particularly like the one about taking the play with them. I hadn't thought about that.

  5. Hi
    Just found you at Sun Scholars. I will try to remember to link Creative Saturdays with you next week. I love your post and tweeted it
    Janis Author of Tadeo Turtle


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