Children are silly at heart, yet we find ourselves teaching our children to not be so silly a lot of the time. We especially don’t partake in the silliness as much as we should. One of the best things we can do as parents and nannies is to take time to be silly with kids! “We need to spend more time joining children where they live, instead of all the time dragging them into our world, which is the world of schedules and chores and planned activities,” says Lawrence Cohen, a Massachusetts-based psychologist who wrote the book on the subject, Playful Parenting. “Those things have to be done, but when they take over our family’s life, what gets shortchanged is play.” There are many benefits to playing and being silly with your children, including comfort, bonding and cooperation. You are meeting them in their space, and when a child enjoys spending time with you, they’ll work hard to maintain that bond. Have you ever felt vulnerable or hurt while laughing so hard your stomach hurts? Impossible! When a child is laughing, they are feeling intense joy, not negative feelings, such as confusion or self doubt. Play that includes laughter helps children gain confidence as they shake away any worries or fears they may have. Give kids the chance to just be kids, which includes being silly! As parents or nannies, we are role modeling that life can be happy and safe when we let go and get our silly on! When children laugh, they bridge the connection between you and them, and a deeper respect develops. Since you are respecting their needs by participating in the silliness, that respect is often reciprocated. Children are apt to be much more cooperative with you when they feel connected and respected!

Three ideas to help you get your silly on with your kids:

1. Special Time

The idea behind Special Time is to put the parent in the “back seat” of the parent/child relationship. During Special Time, a parent spends one-on-one time with his or her child, with zero interruptions and the promise to do whatever the child would like. All parents are familiar with the morning rush. You’re trying to get out of the house in time, and end up nagging your child to finish breakfast, put away toys, put on shoes, over and over again. Putting in 5-10 minutes of Special Time first thing in the morning — it could be cuddling in bed, reading a story, dancing or a fun game — can make huge difference in everyone’s day. When children’s needs for affectionate connection are met, they are much more cooperative with you. A happy child is much easier to wrangle out the door!

2. Playlistening 

Instead of telling a child what to do in a serious tone, find a playful way to take a less powerful role to get those giggles going! After some laughter, our child is much more likely to listen and cooperate with us.   For example, if your child is refusing to get dressed and starts to run away from you, follow along, but as the less competent one. If you get pushed, fall over with comic drama. If you get chased, run away slowly until you get caught. Children benefit from laughter that ensues from playing that they are bigger and stronger than adults. After a few minutes your child should be more cooperative in getting dressed!

3. Roughhousing

If your child acts out when you see them after work, try getting down on their level and playing a physical game. For example, hide and seek, a hugging game, or chase. The level of rough-housing will depend on your child’s age and both of your temperaments. The idea is that physical play helps children destress and reconnect.

Take Time to be Silly

Do you have some ideas of how you can take time to be silly with your kids? Did you something out at home and are you pleased with the results? Share with us in the comments!   Resources: Hand in Hand ParentingNurture and Thrive BlogParent Co.Today’s Parent