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I noticed that some of my friends naturally play with any kids including mine: they have no difficulty finding anything funny to do to them or with them and make them laugh and have fun. By contrast, I'm struggling doing that.

I searched a bit on Internet any websites that helps getting this "skill" to no avail. Perhaps someone here could help ?

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6 Answers 6

Don't have a huge amount to add to the other good advice.

I can't remember where I read it (a blog somewhere) but something struck a chord with me that I always think about during play - you have to learn to be child-like with children. Get down on their level. Pretend. Be silly. Joke with them. Sing daft songs. Casting aside your adopted adult inhibitions goes a long way.

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Welcome to the site Aitch! Huge amounts of advice aren't important it is the quality and this is a nicely stated gem of advice. Thanks. –  balanced mama Nov 27 '12 at 14:35

Playful Parenting is a book with lots of good ideas. It not only provides different techniques but also helps in understanding why play is important and helps in building connection with the kids.

I have been following the tips and have had great success in building connection with my kids.

You could also look at this book The Art of Roughhousing which IMO is great!

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Welcome to the site Naveen! –  balanced mama Nov 27 '12 at 0:06

It can indeed feel very lonely watching someone else play with your kids in a way that clearly makes them happy while you are just sitting on the sidelines ignored. Do not misinterpret this.

If you are more the peaceful type (like me), just wait quietly in the sidelines. Some day soon you will see one of yours step out of the bundle of playing kids, walk calmly over to you and sit on your lap, clearly looking for what you have, peace.

Other types will find similar moments. The story-tellers, the listeners, the shoulder-to-cry-on, each will have their moments, you must be patient.

Do not ever pretend to your kids that you are someone you are not. They will know instantly that you are lying and treat you as unreliable. Be yourself at all costs.

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This is a nice sentiment OldCurmudgeon - not curmudgeonly at all! Welcome to the site. –  balanced mama Nov 27 '12 at 0:07

The age and particular temperment of the child/children you play with will be a key piece in how they react to you. Not for this reason alone, GdD makes a fabulous point about letting the kids take the lead, but there might be a few helpful things to know too. First, I imagining you are talking about kid kids - like 2-9 or so, if that is the case, they love the unexpected and the silly (and sometimes the gross). Some kids also need warm up time, so except for with your kids, consider taking it slow. What you do to make one kid laugh might totally freak another one out. Don't take it to heart.

The funny thing is, we all have an age group we have a "knack" with. I'm generally pretty good with kids of any age (I'm one of those "knack" people). However, I am most talented with relating to middle school kids. I can jump in and understand them in ways other adults simply can't - even other adults that also have a "knack" for kids in general. I can even make jokes that ARE NOT sexual and get them laughing and hooting and believe me THAT is an accomplishment. However, my husband can make ANY 8 year old giggle till their eyes water - I'll use exactly the same jokes but some how, coming from me the kids just titter a little. Coming from him the jokes are more effective.

With your own kids, just listen. Figure out what they are passionate about and let them talk about it (yes, until your ears fall off) and then it won't matter to them if you are or are not the funniest/funnest guy on the block.

For the others - read Shel Silverstien (ien/ein - not sure) you'll learn a lot. You could also check out my blog article about being the coolest parent in town, it has a few "habits" and how to instill them including the habit "Be silly" and some ideas for you.

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When you were a child, what kind of games or toys did you like to play? Maybe playing those games or with those toys with children will allow you to be more comfortable and get into it. The more practice you do the better you will be at it.

I spend what feels like a LOT of time sitting with my 2 year old just watching him play, giving him some encouragement for what he is doing from time to time, letting him hand me toys and sometimes I "play" with the toy a bit in a way that I would prefer he played with the toy (quietly, lol).

Playing with other people's children can be a bit trickier, I rough-house with my child all the time, picking him up and jostling him around, making monster noises and such. I do not do that with other children unless I have a very good relationship with the parents, which right now is exactly none. My nieces on the other hand, I can throw them around quite a bit when the grandmas are not around.

In summary, try to find games and toys you can enjoy and be flexible with how they are played.

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Don't get into the habit of comparing yourself to others, you'll always find someone who is better at some aspect of parenting that you are, and comparing yourself to them will just make you feel bad about yourself.

That isn't to say you shouldn't observe what other parents do and emulate what you think is good (and avoid what isn't), it's a good way to learn.

Playing with kids is a matter of going with the flow, letting them play with you rather than you playing with them. Kids are able to have fun with virtually anything, it's how it's done that matters. Rather than thinking how you can make things work let them take the lead. If they chase you run away, then chase them back. Chances are the kids will give you all the cues you need, just don't try too hard, and don't fake it.

Also don't be upset if it doesn't work as well as it does other people. Some people have the knack, some don't. Some will relate better to some kids rather than others. Don't feel bad about it, it's just life!

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+1 TLDR: the kids will give you all the cues you need! –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Nov 26 '12 at 15:58

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