How To Fill Your Child’s Cup-A Playful Challenge

I have the hardest time playing. I want to have one of those families that laugh and play together. I want to feel okay being silly and at the same time, have a major problem with this. Most parents find it easy to be silly when they have babies and I certainly didn’t have a problem being goofy with my oldest, Jade, when she was young. Toddlers think you are amazing and super funny. You don’t have to do much to entertain them when they are little. As they get older, their play gets more involved and before you know it they want you to play with Barbie dolls or some other form of role-playing. I cannot for the life of me make myself do pretend Barbie dialog with Jade. I end up feeling stupid and like it is forced. I cringe just thinking about it. I need to learn to lighten up and be a fun mom. I don’t want to be too serious. I want my children to remember me laughing and playing, not scolding and nagging. I want there to be fond memories of their childhood.

Enter My Challenge
I will be reading Playful Parenting by Lawrence Cohen and implementing the ideas as I go through it. It is a book that has been recommended to me by many of my Attachment Parenting friends. As new discoveries are made, I will share them here! I am really excited about this challenge, and would love for some people to join me.

Cool Analogy On Children’s Emotional Needs
This book likens children’s emotional needs to a cup and states that children have a strong emotional need for connection. When this cup is emptied by anger, stress, hunger or upsets, children act in different ways to try to get their cup filled up. Some will get antsy and rush around the room begging for attention to fill their cups. Some will lock up and make it hard for their cup to be filled.

For children with a secure attachment to their primary caregivers, their cup always seems to stay full and need occasional refilling.  These children can also find refilling easily with connections with their friends or other activities that they enjoy.  For children with an insecure attachment they seem to have a cup that stays empty and needs more constant refilling from the primary caregiver.  These children can appear a little more clingy or withdrawn than children with a secure attachment.  These children may try to withdraw from the cups of other children by force or fighting and may act out in inappropriate ways to get their cup filled and this is where the phrase, “Bad attention is better than no attention at all”, comes from.  Connecting with our children in many ways can ensure that they keep a full cup and that their attachment remains secure. Connecting with children on their level is very important.

How To Fill A Baby’s Cup

  • Peek A Boo
  • Copy Cat-Copy your baby’s noises/gurgles.
  • Infant Massage
  • Gentle Baby Yoga Stretches
  • Kissing
  • Cuddling
  • Baby Wearing

So How Can We Fill A Young Child’s Cup

  • Start by figuring out what your child really likes and offer to do that with them.  The more you do with them, the more you will get to know your child.
  • Watch a TV program sitting next to them.
  • Be lavish with your hugs.  As stated on The Happiness Project, hugs held for at least 6 seconds increase the flow of mood-boosting hormones.
  • Make up silly rhymes.
  • Color with your children.
  • Read with your children.
  • Play Tag.
  • Volunteer-helps to build a connection and gives them a lesson in giving.
  • Go for a family walk.

There are many things that can be done to fill up your children’s cups.  It can be hard to take the first step if you are not in the habit of playing with your child.

The key is to just take the first step.  Once you take the first step, no matter how hard that first step is, just take it and it will get the ball rolling.  As much as I feel uncomfortable playing with my oldest daughter, yesterday, I decided to color with her when she asked me.  At first I felt very awkward.  Before it was over though, I learned about some things she hated at school and we ended up doing silly rhymes.  Before she went to bed she told me how thankful she was that I played with her.

It was totally worth it.  I didn’t do as good today, but each day is part of this journey!

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4 responses to “How To Fill Your Child’s Cup-A Playful Challenge

  1. I can definitely related to your post. I am not very fond of playing Barbies with my daughter either. It is a shame that as we get older we seem to lose that sense of playfulness and creativity. But having said that, I really believe that children are just interested in “being” with you. If you are more comfortable talking a walk outside and looking at the flowers, for example, that moment will be just as meaningful to your daughter (maybe more so) than an hour of playing Barbies. My mom was not the type to get down on the ground and play toys with me either but I still look back at my times going up with a great deal of fondness and joy. I hope my daugther will do this same.

    • Fran, Thanks for pointing out that often times children just want to be with you! I am trying to learn to be more present with my daughters! It can be hard with all the things that we have going on in our lives. I too, just hope that my children will look back at their childhood with fond memories.

  2. This is an interesting point of view Jamie, I don’t have any kids, but playing with my nephew has always been the highlight of family visits when we all get together and I’ve never had a self-conscious thought about playing with dolls or toys or anything else with him.

    I wonder if I would feel differently with children of my own or if it is something else. Another curious take would be finding the feelings about this based on gender differences.

    • Spyros, In the book I am reading it does mention that males do the rough play more frequently than moms do. That does make me interested to know the differences based on gender. Awesome too that you enjoy playing with your nephew! I think in my case I just forgot how to play (sad I know) and feel awkward doing it now!

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