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4.8 out of 5 stars83
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 26 February 2011
A good book. Gives advice on how to help your child develop through play. You can help them (and yourself) learn to deal healthily with the whole range of emotions your child experiences. It opened my eyes to my own preconceptions.

An example of its practicality - my son hates having his face and hands wiped after meals. Following the advice in the book I gave him the cloth and asked him to wipe my face. I squealed and pulled faces - he loved it, then let me wash his face with no problems. He could see that I hated it too but that I was happy with the result. He had some control and power where he had felt out of control and powerless before. Mealtimes now end far more pleassantly than before.
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on 31 July 2010
I cannot recommend this book enough. It has totally transformed my approach to parenting my two little boys. I bought the book because I was feeling frustrated with my 3 year old sons constant requests to "plaaaaaaaaaaaaaay". To be honest, I was finding his games a little boring and repetitive and we were really stuck in a rut. I also secretly resented his requests thinking that surely he should be able to play more independently by now. So, I sought guidance from this book. I was hooked from the very first page. The book really helped me realise that children connect with us through their play. They use play to understand difficult emotions, to build confidence and to develop a sense of themselves. Laurence Cohen provides ideas for lots of wonderful playful approaches to situations that I would have previously resorted to threats and the dreaded "naughty chair". We never use the naughty chair any more and our house if full of fun and laughter. My husband and I feel like we can really indulge in play and we are almost having a second childhood. We knew that we were seriously on the wrong track with our kids before. Our unrealistic expectations for perfect behaviour, regular tellings off and trips to the naughty chair were making our son angry and resentful. We knew that we were spoiling our children's childhood and missing out on the most wonderful time of our lives. We feared that they would grow up to resent us for the parenting approach that we were using. Thankfully, this book has really turned us around and we look forward to a long happy relationship with our two boys.
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on 23 July 2001
Your child defies you. What do you do? I'm tempted to crack down on the kid. This book shows how to turn the confrontation into connection while still setting limits. The author, Lawrence Cohen, restores joy to parenting--playing with your child becomes healing and nurturing for both of you. Cohen provides specific examples of play you can use in the whole range of difficult encounters with children. Especially valuable are his explanations of the fear and anger that underlie particular types of defiant statements by children, and his examples of play that can defuse the anger and ameliorate the fear. This book even speaks--implicitly--to adults' fears and anger, explaining how to get over old emotions. If I had to choose one book to give to a new parent, this would be the one--although I'd also be tempted to provide "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby." But the Cohen book will, in the long run, provide more help and provide it over the child's entire time at home. A word about its readability: Five-star. It is amazing that this author can write so clearly and in such an entertaining way, and at the same time provide a crucial new way to connect with a child. The book is a revelation and a delight.
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on 7 January 2011
This book is a great read with good examples for those who aren't ready to throw caution to the wind and get silly, maybe those parents who have forgotten how to play or don't think they should play with their kids. My boys love playing with my husband and I. I think this should be a mandatory read for all parents! Children learn through play and it helps you get in their world to teach them easily. Great for stressed out parents who feel stuck. I do believe it has helped me get even closer with my kids even though I didn't think it was possible.
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on 6 January 2013
I'm still reading this but am so impressed I felt compelled to write a review! My daughter is approaching her fifth birthday and is having some problems at school with shyness. I wish I had read this book years ago...it is so well written: encourageing and not at all condescending, and the author has something valuable to say on every page. Its not just about playing with your children, but encourageing self esteem and what he calls "connectedness" between you and your child and hence your child and the world outside the family home. I purchased this along with a couple of other books about confidence building in children and overcoming shyness, and I have no hesitation in saying that this will be the one I keep returning to again and again. Rather than giving you "exercises" to do (groan!) as in the other books, he gives you ideas which you can try out straight away. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, whether your child is having problems or not, you will both take away many positive things from "Playful Parenting".
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on 1 October 2009
This is a well written and refreshing parenting book. Lawrence Cohen sets out the principles of playful parenting, giving parents an opportunity to review their approaches and consider practical changes, with the background to why...he openly admits his own difficulties, with examples to show successes and failures - and demonstrates that parenting isn't just about raising your children, it's about you and your background and family history, your partner, and your connection as a family unit. He is demonstrating that if we follow the child's lead, we can get more insight into what they are telling us - what they can't express in words, they express in behaviour, and this book helps us to learn the signs.

It is challenging book, and at times I've struggled to carry it through, but I'm going to keep trying...This isn't a quick fix or a set of tips to use. This is an approach to parenting that will take time and effort to adopt...but will be worth it. I'm already seeing the rewards in the connection between myself and my son, and my own ability to be more playful and relaxed. Thank you Mr Cohen!!!!
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on 10 February 2011
My daughter is only one, but already some of these techniques are proving useful in a myriad of ways. "Rough" play to get her confidence up, fun strategies to minimise protests during the dressing/nappy-changing/feeding routines, tactile play with lots of giggles making our family feel wonderfully bonded.
Play is the language of children, a language many of us adults need to be reminded of or relearn. It can make parenting so much more fun and help our children negotiate the ways of the world on their own terms.
Thoroughly recommended.
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on 29 June 2013
We bought this as we kept getting 'stuck in ruts' with our toddler - you know, when they refuse to do something or keep doing something naughty and eventually, in spite of your best intentions you end up losing your temper? Well since reading this book we've had a lot less of that - it's been so useful. And so useful at understanding some of his behaviour - and how to deal with difficult situations (like when he'd been really scared by something). I might read it again once my son is older too as it deals with kids up until early teens.
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VINE VOICEon 21 November 2009
Keynes famously said "Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist" and in a similar way, many of us are probably unwitting inheritors of a behaviourist view of parenting that suggests we somehow *should* be punishing or rewarding behaviour at its face value.

Lawrence Cohen offers another perspective, based on personal and professional experience, and two simple and reasonably common-sense ideas. The first idea is attachment theory, which he explains with the metaphor of a cup - when a child's "attachment cup" is full (of attachment and connectedness to an attachment figure) then they have the confidence and security to explore their world and the people in it. The second idea is that children use play to model and test whatever's on their mind, especially roles and relationships.

So when a child says "you're a stinker", Cohen's response is to take it playfully not personally. He whispers "Don't tell anyone my secret name - only my closest friends call me Stinker" and the play begins.

The whole book is informed by his life as a father and his work as a play therapist, and I have found it to be immensely practical in reducing the stresses and conflicts caused by misunderstanding situations and communications. I'm currently re-reading the book after a year or so, and it's almost scary to recognise how many recent minor parenting triumphs had their roots in my first reading of the book.

Is there a down-side? Of course - sometimes it's hard to find the energy to play on the floor, or the time just to sit together on the sofa. But how much energy and time does it take to do things the other way, and with how much less laughter and pleasure?
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on 7 November 2011
I have read so many parenting books, simply to learn more about my children and how to make sure they are happy and well adjusted. A lot of them are rubbish to be honest. However, this book makes so much sense. I have adopted a few of the play ideas suggested and my lovely 4 year old son has twice today thrown his arms around me for no reason! As a parent, you tend to question whether your way of doing things is right. You also question whether you are inadvertently damaging your children or spoiling them etc. The way this book is written is very comforting. It reminds you that you are quite normal! For example, it reminds you that it's normal to feel angry at your children when they are playing up but also nudges you to consider why they are playing up. Because it is written by a psychologist, it provides amazing insights into a child's behaviour. I always thought that having too much 'of a laugh' with your children etc was setting the wrong boundaries. However, yesterday afternoon, the whole family got into bed and watched a film and my 4 year old has been so wonderful ever since. He keeps throwing his arms around me! I have been making a joke about his whining too. If he starts, I crumple into heap and do it myself. He ends up laughing and the situation is diffused. Some people seem to know all this naturally but I didn't. That's why this book meant so much to me!
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