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Breakthrough
"Dear Larry. We had a really great breakthrough with our son Tyler, who is four. It was family movie night and for the first time in his life, Ben (Tyler's two-year-old brother) voiced his request which was to watch a Pooh movie. Tyler wanted to watch Fern Gulley, so we had the boys pick a hand with a coin hidden inside to see who would get their first choice of movie. When Tyler saw that the hand he picked was empty, a major temper tantrum ensued. Tantrums for him are rare, so this was a big deal. He called his brother the taboo names (dummy and stupid baby) and ran off. Your book was on the coffee table, so there I was trying to find the tantrum section. My husband said he was going to step in soon if I didn't act quickly (he's been great with letting me take the lead since he hasn't had the chance to read the book yet!). He was very concerned about Ben hearing the repeated insults.

Anyway, I got the info I needed and went to Tyler He yelled at me to leave and continued with the insults, and then said we loved Ben more. I told him he couldn't say those things to Ben and then focused on the grief he was feeling. He was very angry at himself for picking the wrong hand, and hurt that his brother didn't want to watch what he wanted. He cried a lot and finally came to me to cuddle. He started crying again and lamented that NOTHING would make him feel better. I said "Oh, I think I know one thing, let all your tears out." So he continued to cry. Then a few minutes later he told me he wanted to take an "only playing bath" (this is one of his favorite relaxation activities; no soap or shampoo is allowed in the vicinity of the bathroom!).

This is where it gets good! He has a new toy seal, which is very small. He was playing with this and his favorite toy, a little polar bear, in the tub. Then he pulls out this large T-Rex, only it is so powerful it breathes fire! He told me the T-Rex was "soooo angry," so I asked the T-Rex why. Tyler made Rex say, "Because Tyler loves his Sealy more than me!" So I told Rex to ask Tyler about it. Tyler laughed and said "Of course I love you both the same! I'm just spending more time with Sealy because he's new and needs me to take care of him." A few minutes later Tyler brings out this Styraccasaurus and says it's angry because the seal and the polar bear woke him up. I asked "Styraccy" why he was so angry about this and he said because he was having the best dream of his whole life. I asked what the dream was about. The answer? "I was dreaming that I could have everything I wanted in life, and now I woke up and I know it isn't true." Then Tyler turned to me and asked why life had to be that way.

I think the key to Playful Parenting is connecting to our children on their level. It makes so much sense, and it works. I think that we have this notion in our heads that we should be able to control what's going on, and when we can't, we resort to power tactics. We used to use time-out here (In the past, Tyler's name-calling would have resulted in time-out and loss of privileges -- but there would have been no real change except for everyone being upset). We've done away with time-outs completely now, because we see that we don't need them, and life is sweeter for all of us."
 

Larry Cohen
phone: 617-713-0568

email: larjack@playfulparenting.com

 
Larry Cohen
1680A Beacon Street | Brookline, MA 02445 | Tel/Fax: 617-713-0568

email: larjack@playfulparenting.com