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RARE parenting

Parenting superpower series – play listening

Johanna’s next step in the Parenting Superpower Series is based upon harnessing the power of laughter and joy in play and how important it is to spend positive, one on one play time with your child. 
Unleash the Power of Laughter and Joy

Imagine you had the power to heal a child with laughter, wouldn’t that be wonderful. With Play Listening, we can do just that. 

Johanna and her daughters
Play Listening
  • The adult takes the less powerful role
  • The child wins all the time
  • The child is amused or laughs
  • The adult pays close attention to the child’s response 
  • The adult adjusts her/his behaviour based on the child’s response
  • Don’t tickle (it can easily make the child feel helpless)
Being the powerful one in play can bring children great joy and excitement

An adult who allows the child to be stronger, smarter, and more competent is a wonderful gift to a child. 

Imagine a doctor stumbling into the room and being completely befuddled until the child explains to them what is going on. Is that helpful? You bet it is. 

Children will light up, their faces will express great excitement and joy when we allow them to overpower us in play. When we allow them to wrestle us down, hit us with pillows, or throw soft toys at us. You will quickly get a sense of how much resistance or fighting back your child needs to enjoy this play. 

Watch the video below and to find out more about the power of Play Listening click the button below to download six free classic Play Listening games. 

To find out about my six week starter class click the button below: 

Physical play involving lots of body contact, like wrestling or climbing on top of an adult, also adds the component of physical closeness and playful affection, a wonderful counter experience to physical pain and experiences of being physically overpowered during medical intervention. 

Some parents are naturally the funny ones who can create laughter easily, if you are like me – you are not like that. I had quite the learning curve to understand this tool, but being able to learn it like a skill and being able to bring laughter and joy into my family is a great gift, especially if it does not come naturally. 

We can learn to offer this kind of play to children, helping them process fear and create counter experiences to powerlessness. And best of all we are able to cause children joy, see the excitement in their faces, and hear their laughter. And what better medicine is there for us as adults when we receive the gift of laughter from a child. 

If you want to dive deeper into using these tools: I offer parenting classes and individual consultations for parents, caregivers and medical professionals. I present at conferences, write articles, produce video content and am very interested to work with hospitals and patient organisations. Please get in touch here:

Johanna Berglein
To download our Top Tip for RARE Parents resources please click the button below:
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