Amanda: yes, I'm right there with you! In fact, I hardly EVER want to do the song and dance. I think I'm pretty good at being calm and respectful in my requests the first few times, sometimes even adding a little playful element to it like "I bet you can't find your shoes!" But after I have asked for something to be done (what feels like) a million times, I'm ready to enforce things more firmly, not make a game out of it. I think, though, that a book like this that emphasizes play all the time, helps me to think of play more than I do and that will be my goal. Try to do it more.
Joanie: I totally agree with you, too. Where is that line? It goes hand and hand with my ideas above. After a while it becomes a discipline issue- respect, expected behavior, etc. I guess, I'm thinking that there are many situations in our days where the playful techniques would be appropriate- avoiding confrontations and firmer discipline over minimal matters. Then there will be a few situations that would warrant more solid discipline (and by solid I mean a consequence, helping the victim to feel better, cleaning up the mess, etc.... not spanking of course!). If I didn't get up in arms about the minimal situations then the discipline I enforce for the larger situations would hold more weight.
I know for me, I spend a lot of my day talking. Talking, talking, talking to my kids. After a while they aren't hearing me at all. And this is where the yelling comes in. They aren't listening to me and are, in fact, acting the opposite of what I've been talking to them about. I can see at that point that I have failed to act in time. What I needed to do was diffuse the situation earlier- when only minimal infractions had occurred and I could employ the playful techniques. But after the hitting, biting, or destroying of property has already occurred then I have to resort to more firm discipline. So I guess I'm seeing the playful techniques as preventative measures with the hope that they will improve overall behavior. But I don't think they can replace other types of discipline once something more serious has happened.
In the case of the boy that called him an idiot, I think that the pillow fight is okay, but I also think that something should be said afterward when the tension has been diffused so the message can be heard. I would consider name calling like that fairly minimal, but it could escalate into other forms of disrespect if he felt like it would lead to fun all the time. I think it's a bit naive to assume that a 9 year old is going to just turn everything around after some pillow fights and roughhousing and start treating everyone with respect b/c he's having so much fun. But maybe this is what he needed to get out of the negative rut he was in and be more open to some gentle discipline to guide his behavior in a positive direction?
I would just have to remind myself that the child may just be acting out because she's in need of attention and by giving her what she needs, she will likely act out less and become more confident, exhibiting better behavior naturally. It's a whole new way of thinking!
Yes, this is a large part of gentle discipline and can be rather earth shattering when you first start to really think about discipline in this way. I know it was for me! This premise is similar to the whole idea of filling cups and keeping cups full so we can all be at our best, and goes beyond it b/c engaging in play together offers the child tools for diffusing their own feelings in future situations. I can see my oldest (5 years old) often employing techniques I try with my toddler (2 years old) when she wants him to do things or not do things. She is learning from my actions with him, not just with her so the positive interactions will get passed around the whole family if I can keep initiating them. If she can be playful with her brother, then I won't have to deal with as many discipline situations myself! So, yes, I too have to keep reminding myself that energy I put forth to model this behavior will come back around to me in the long run. Conversely, when I lose it and yell, I hear her yell at her brother about every little thing and I know that I have caused that.
Edited by Jaimee - 5/2/12 at 12:58pm