Google+ Authentic Parenting: Avoiding Conflict Through Playfulness and Connection.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Avoiding Conflict Through Playfulness and Connection.

With three little ones and two dogs, there is never a dull moment in our house…truth is at every junction there is a possibility of chaos and conflict. To my rescue I sometimes turn to playfulness and connection.

Over the years, I have found that taking just five minutes to play and to restore connection can prevent many battles and tantrums. To make everyday things more playful I sometimes create songs or tell stories, other times I use props and tools or play games. Often I can follow my child’s lead and we can move together in the right direction. Here are a few examples:

Fantasy: Did you hear about the sand gnomes?
When my oldest was around age 4, one evening he decided he no longer wanted to have his hair washed. I started telling him a story about the sand gnomes. Little gnomes that magically appeared into a little boys head one night. It took three minutes of telling this elaborate story of mighty sand gnomes, castles and the special powers of soap and water to convince both the sand gnomes to move out and for my son’s hair to get a nice wash. Another day,at my son asked to wear some safety goggles to get his hair washed. Although it was an added step, it was nevertheless much faster to agree to his request and help him feel in a bit more in charge of something that is not a favorite event for him.

Games: Red Light, Green Light!
Both of my boys like to run at the end of preschool from their classroom door up to the exit gate that leads to the parking lot. The majority of parents drive slowly through the lot, and stop
before the gate, but the situation is not what I would deem safe. My three year old was having a tough time containing his excitement and had been running way ahead of me, straight into the parking lot searching for our car. To instill in both boys and especially the youngest the importance of stopping right at the gate and waiting, we started playing “Red light, Green Light” at home and at the preschool exit. This gave both boys practice in listening for the very important cue to stop at the “red light” a.k.a. the gate and avoided struggles with telling both that they must wait for me or not run etc… Over the last few weeks both boys have started to associate the gate itself as being the “red light” and have been waiting right at the gate without any problems.

Props: The Mask.
When my middle child was struggling to use the toilet after we moved to a new house, we found an old green mask while unpacking. He was very intrigued by it and wanted to wear it while

sitting on the toilet. For the next week or so, anytime he needed to use the toilet, the mask had to go on. I figured this was his way of dealing with the move and toileting somewhere new, regardless of if it had deeper meaning or not, this was helping him cope better and stop having mishaps and making him laugh a lot, releasing some tension too. Fairly quickly, the mask was old news and the toilet was no longer a problem.

Team Work: Pulley System
One afternoon both boys were having a really hard time sharing and they were just not getting along. For a change of scenery we headed into the yard. I noticed the waste bin was really full and could use a new bag. Living on a mountain, our garden is three floors below street level and that gave me an idea. I tied a long rope to the trash bag and sent both boys up to the garage deck and threw the rope up. Together they tried to pull the trash bag up, higher and higher. They started another argument and the bag fell to the ground and spilled some. Determined to see the bag go up all three floors they came back down, cleaned up the spill (with some help) and I encouraged them to try again. I asked them if they wanted to make a plan this time and they did, and working together they finally got the bag all the way up. They were so excited about their team work and ended up hugging each other and that was the end of their fighting, for that day anyways.
Have you ever tried using play to avoid conflict? How did it work out?
Peace & Be Well,

Ariadne has three children, she practices peaceful, 
playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. She believes parents and children should try to have fun everyday and love life. Visit The Positive Parenting Connection or join the Positive Parenting Connection Facebook page for daily inspiration, ideas and resources for positive parents!



  1. We use red light green light all the time. Though right now, they are more interested in using it on us. I still think they are learning the idea though, but using it on us, so we play along.

  2. Wow - you are an inspiration. I only have a 10 1/2 month old so far and I love the way you relate to your children. It seems very much a partnership where you aid, but do not take the lead, and help them to form their own solutions to conflict or issues they may be having. I love it! Definitely saving this to my "useful writings" folder to read again for when I need.
    Thank you!

  3. Jennifer, sounds like they get the general idea of the game, I would guess they like the power to make you stop, mine love inventing very hard moves in games like "simon says" and watching me pretend fall etc...great for laughter!! Thanks for reading :)

  4. Sarah- sometimes it works that they take the lead, othertimes I do but taking their needs into consideration,...thank you for your lovely comment!!

  5. Your kid is a champion with that mask. Hope you save that story for his 21st.


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