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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
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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 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 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 18 May 2008
I totally agree with the other positive reviews: it's a great book and I cannot recommend it enough to all parents, carers or even people in general, because the emphasis on connection and playfulness is important in any type of relationship - though of course the subject here is parenting. I've seen books about parenting which use some spiritual vocabulary such as inner light and soul, which rather puts me off. This one does have one or two metaphors (e.g. it talks about the tower of powerlessness) but they do make sense and help bring the point across. There's a lot of good stuff here (e.g. practical suggestions on how to deal in certain situations) but for me the most valuable chapters were those towards the end which deal with the issue of discipline. The author put in words the feelings I've always had about punishment. He sees most 'misbehaviour' as just a matter of disconnection. It makes perfect sense that rather than using punishment to deal with it - which will in fact deepen the disconnection - we should rather try to re-establish the connection. One of the ways of connecting with our kids is playfulness and so Cohen strongly encourages us to engage with our kids in a playful way as much as possible and use our sense of humour in our daily encounters with them. Using his words: "You will do a much better job of teaching your values and getting cooperation with your rules by being playful than by being stern".
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on 9 August 2002
I read most of the parenting books that come out, because I am always interested in learning more, but most of them are just rehashes of old news, or full of unhelpful advice. This one is different. Lawrence Cohen really understands children, and parents. He writes about how important it is to get down on the floor and play with children at their level in their world--the world of play. Then he goes on to offer an entirely fresh--and very workable--approach to everything from discipline to sibling rivalry. He tells funny and useful anecdotes about using these teschniques with his daughter and with other kids. read it!
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on 30 September 2009
This is a book written by a child psychologist who specialises in play therapy. As such, then, it's not necessarily about parenting itself but more about how to relate to children through play. It's an American book, so it starts off from a slightly more relaxed baseline anyway, but it really explains well the importance of getting on the floor with your kids and playing with them on their own terms. For those people who do this instinctively anyway, you might not learn very much; but for me, raised in a slightly more traditional British way, it was something of a revelation. It also explains how to use play to communicate with children when they are struggling with a situation but don't quite have the maturity to express how they feel. At times I have caught myself using some of these ideas when attempting to communicate with my husband...
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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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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 29 October 2012
This is the 2nd time I've read this book and, once more, I am re-energised, reassured and inspired! My daughter is 2, most of the examples are about parenting older children but even when she was 1 I found ways to apply the wisdom and techniques described to help make myself a better parent and to make our lives together work better. I can't recommend this book enough. I read it a bit and then digest that bit over a few days and try some of the suggestions. Every time that I read some I am inspired again. Every time I feel like I am stuck or I don't understand my daughter's frustrations or things are not working well, I pick up this book and it always helps.

My one frustration is that the cover makes it look like it will only be useful to the parents of older children so I find it hard to get other parents of little ones to read it, plus 'playful parenting' doesn't sound essential, whereas the results have been lifechanging for me already. This is a fantastic book, to spend a few minutes on or as to read as a novel, if you're interested in another take on play and parenting you should try it!
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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 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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