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Teenagers and Special Time
Teenagers still like PlayTime (this is one-on-one time set aside to give the child your full attention; join them in what what they want to do; put aside work, dinner and other siblings; and show up with a little more enthusiasm than usual), though it may look different than PlayTime with younger children. It might mean having us patiently watch them try on seventeen pairs of shoes at the mall, especially if that's something we would ordinarily refuse to do. Or it might mean listening, without interrupting, to all the reasons they should be allowed to get a tattoo (you don't have to say yes, you just have to listen cheerfully to all the reasons).

If your teenager thinks that PlayTime with you would be torture (and you kind of agree!), you might try the PlayTime swap. That is, you have an hour or two of special one-on-one time with your friend's teenager, while she has special time with yours.

Parents of younger children can do this PlayTime swap too--it helps kids get a chance to do things that really bug their parents, but might not bother another adult. My my daughter Emma was one and a half, she had some special time with our friend Kris. When I came home, Emma was sitting on the counter completely covered in soup, wearing the biggest smile on her face I had ever seen. I never thought of myself as a neat-freak, but I never would have tolerated letting her pour a bowl of soup over her head. A couple of years later I was having PlayTime with Kris's son, Eli, who was three at the time. He saw a plastic shark at the edge of the bathtime, and decided he wanted to play with the shark--in the tub. If it had been my own child, I probably would have said, "It isn't bathtime now," but how could I resist Eli's logical reasoning that a great new bath toy meant it was time for a fun bathtime?
 

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