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How Play can Save the Day!

If you’re a parent you will know that children are always asking, "Come play with me!" and I know how hard it can be sometimes to engage and want to join in the game for the 100th time!


As a mum of three kids under eight, I know, I get it! And I know you might be thinking, "I play with my children ALL the time"… But this is a very purposeful type of play and way of connecting with our children. Want to know more? Read on…


Is play really that important? Well, actually yes. I’m not saying that we need to play with our children all the time, and I’m definitely not trying to add to your long list of things of to-do’s that we already have as parents. But hear me out.


Play is our child's primary language. They are wired to play and create (in fact all humans, even us adults are wired for creativity) Play is how our children process the world around them. It is how they connect and FEEL our love.


Connection is always the answer and play is often the fastest way to reconnect with our children.


Attachment Play is a core principle of Aware Parenting (a parenting approach founded by Aletha Solter... I'll write more on this soon!). Aletha has a whole book on how we can use games to connect with our children and help with the pretty much anything. There are nine different types of attachment play and one of my favourite is Power Reversal Games. It is also one of the tools taught in Hand in Hand Parenting, called Playlistening.


So how do you do it?

In Power Reversal Games and Playlistening the child takes on the more powerful role and the parent becomes the weaker one, the scared one, the stumbling, bumbling one. When this elicits laughter in our child we simply continue to follow their lead. The laughter is the helpful, healing part. It is a form of emotional release (you know the times where you are laughing uncontrollable about something). It is helpful, and the child is using laughter to shift the tension they may be feeling around whatever it is you are playing.


For example, we can use this type of power reversal game when the child might be scared of swimming, or dogs, or with separation anxiety or with Corona Virus.


As parents, I know that it is often our default to play the "brave" and the "its all ok" part. But when we allow our child or children to be in the more powerful role, and when we act what they are feeling, it translates to them feeling understood. Once your child feels understood, they will begin to relax in their bodies.


Following the laughter in this way is incredibly powerful. You can try it for tooth brushing, getting in and out of the car, basically any tricky situation can be addressed using some sort of lightness, laughter and connection.


I would love to hear about the Attachment Play games that you and your children come up with in the comments below. Happy playing!


Shelley x

© 2021 Shelley Clarke

I acknowledge the Kaurna people on whose traditional land I live and work, and pay respect to Elders past and present. I recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with the land. I acknowledge that they are of continuing importance to the Kaurna people living today.