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Playful Parenting

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  2,751 Ratings  ·  249 Reviews

Have you ever stepped back to watch what really goes on when your children play? As psychologist Lawrence J. Cohen points out, play is children’s way of exploring the world, communicating deep feelings, getting close to those they care about, working through stressful situations, and simply blowing off steam. That’s why “playful parenting” is so important and so successful
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 30th 2002 by Ballantine Books (first published 2001)
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Kimberly OutspokenMom
Sep 16, 2012 Kimberly OutspokenMom rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
I had thought a lot about what parenting was going to mean for me and how I was going to go about it. I read a lot of different books covering all areas in great detail and discussedit with my partner. When my son arrived the experienced surpassed the greatest of expectations. Being the mother to a baby was just wonderful. BUT THEN one day, our baby was a boy who wanted to PLAY. He really showed that he needed me to get down on the floor and PLAY with him and his toys. I was totally unprepared f ...more
Jun 12, 2013 Carissa rated it it was ok
I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I feel like it motivated me to play with my children more. It also made me rethink the value of play and what certain types of play mean. Due to this book, I played a game where my young son took away my shoes and I cried and cried about how I wanted them back. My son loved the game and due to reading this book, I could see where this would be fun for him when in real life, I'm the one taking things away from him. So there were nuggets that were gle ...more
Mar 28, 2009 Cyndi rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Cohen has tremendous energy and creativity in using play therapy to connect with children and help them deal with difficult feelings and impulses. What a fresh approach to parenting! Reading the first several chapters, I was amazed and impressed at how he looks at troubling behavior, mindfully tries to reframe it, seeking to understand the struggle going on inside the child, and help that child come through it in an atmosphere of loving support. Cohen seems remarkably intuitive, and senses when ...more
Oct 28, 2008 Nicole rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents
Recommended to Nicole by: a lady on the radio
This book is a must read for those in the attachment parenting camp, and any other parent wanting to have more fun, more connection and more happy times with their children. Cohen gives concrete examples of how to connect with kids using play, including rough-housing, games, silly antics and everyday activities.

The basics:

Children "misbehave" when they are disconnected. In order to reach the kids, we need to re-connect. The best way to do this is in the language of children - play. We have to l
Aug 05, 2012 Natali rated it liked it
While this book did help me think about more playful ways to communicate with my children, I wished it were organized differently. The author talks about the "Playful Parenting method" a lot but doesn't really ever articulate exactly what it is. He just says that it is "this philosophy" or "that philosophy." I guess you can see each chapter as an articulation of the method but I kept waiting for a more clear explanation and it never came.

Also, this book has a lot of specific anecdotes. You can
Jan 12, 2014 Ruby rated it liked it
Very mixed feelings on this one. On the plus side, Cohen offers some absolute gems of advice, and he has well and truly convinced me to incorporate much more playtime with my boy and even (gasp!) wrestle and play guns with him! On the down side, the book badly needed an editing job - I found it rambling and repetitive. I think this book would have benefitted from someone experienced in laying out non-fiction, with lots of dot-point summaries at the end of each chapter and a harsh red penning of ...more
Mary Ann
Jan 08, 2011 Mary Ann rated it really liked it
Very interesting perspective on parenting! The message that has really stuck with me is the fact that if kids are acting up, all they may need is even a few minutes of our undivided attention to really reconnect, then they will be just fine. Taking those few minutes could save hours of struggling and grief. Plus, we need to have fun and connect with kids on their level once in a while! I've only been a parent for a year and a half and I already forget that often.

As far as the discipline section
Mar 03, 2011 Fiona rated it really liked it
I read this when my daughter was smaller, and found it to be a really helpful book. I have to admit that my child is quite an "easy" child, but I think part of that is due to the way I interact with her due to this book.

What made the biggest impression on me in this book is the idea that you can pick your battles, and you can also have fun with your child instead of escalating a battle of wills, especially with a child who can't really communicate his or her feelings effectively at this point.
Sandra Blackard
Jul 22, 2012 Sandra Blackard rated it it was amazing
“Pretend… that we’re really gonna be late and you’re really mad.” Imagine your child saying that when you’re grumpy and trying to get out the door in the morning. Games work for kids and parents, too.

"Playful Parenting" is a psychological look at what works with kids. It includes the memorable analogy of filling a child's cup with connection to meet his/her needs. Dr. Cohen clearly establishes that meeting children's needs is the key to long-term behavior management as opposed to reward-and-pun
Francis Norton
Jul 15, 2012 Francis Norton rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Keynes famously said "Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist" and in a similar way, many of us are probably unwitting inheritors of a behaviourist view of parenting that suggests we somehow *should* be punishing or rewarding behaviour at its face value.

Lawrence Cohen offers another perspective, based on personal and professional experience, and two simple and reasonably common-sense ideas. The fir
Lauren Bellon
Aug 18, 2009 Lauren Bellon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: parenting
I LOVE this book. There are so many opportunities to engage with kids through play, to deal with challenging behaviors through play...I once had a boy in one of my classes, 2 1/2 years old, who was going through a lot of change in his life. He would literally come to class each week and begin screaming at the beginning and not stop until the end, scaring some of the other kids quite a bit. For a variety of reasons, Mom was not intervening (she was very, very pregnant and I think just exhausted), ...more
Jul 19, 2010 Danielle rated it really liked it
I've only read about half of this book, then had to return it to the library. But that was enough to inspire me to have a more playful approach to my daughter in everyday situations, and it is really working! She is 1 1/2, and she is getting to be a handful. This book also helped me with interactions with random kids I encounter at the park and everywhere else. Now I have some tools and ideas to change the tone of any situation, and change tears to laughter. It takes some work, but it is so wort ...more
Apr 14, 2012 Vanessa rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
SOOOOOO GOOD. For the budding play therapist and future parent, this book is amazing. Detailed with real life examples and a transformative approach to "problem" behaviors. I found Cohen to be a smart narrator helping to make parenting humane and call attention to the common misnomer that to follow a child's lead or have fun will make a child more likely to misbehave or not prepare the child for the real world. He is heavily influenced by Patty Wipfler of Hand in Hand Parenting, whose work I lov ...more
Katey Thompson
May 15, 2014 Katey Thompson rated it did not like it
Blech. Sounds like a great parenting book but it wasn't. I was so bored that I didn't even bother to finish the darn thing.
Here's what's wrong with it:
-no sound strategies to apply with your kids
-moves endlessly from platitude to anecdote
-the author sings his own praises just way too much. If he's not bragging about himself as a parent, then it's all about his prowess as a psychiatrist
-or bragging endlessly about his daughter.
Honestly, there is an outlet for that. It's called a blog. Except th
Nadine Jones
Aug 29, 2007 Nadine Jones rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
Good ideas, but the author seems to come off as insufferably superior at times, which is off-putting. The rest of us lose our temper, but he always knows better.
Valentina Chiriac
Jun 19, 2016 Valentina Chiriac rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sunt mereu sceptică când încep o carte despre parenting! Toate se laudă a fi cea mai bună, indicându-ți reguli și idei perfecte pe care trebuie doar să le aplici și gata: ai copilul, relația și viața perfectă. Iar dacă ceva nu merge conform 'planului' este desigur vina părintelui care nu respectă rețeta. Puține cărți recunosc că "incredientele" nu sunt aceleași, nici măcar roșiile nu au toate același gust, cu atât mai mult copiii!
Totuși, această carte este una dintre cele mai reușite de până ac
Aug 05, 2014 Jen rated it really liked it
Let's just get this out of the way: No, I'm not pregnant! Nor do I have children. Nonetheless, every once in a while I see a parenting book recommended in an article that intrigues me, and so I read it. I find them very insightful for dealing with people in general, as adults are all just basically large children... At work I like to joke that I read these books to help me deal with clients. ;)

So far this book is amazingly insightful. It explains how children can work through all of their emotio
Jan 10, 2011 Elisabeth rated it really liked it
One of my absolutely favorite parenting books. It's tremendously helpful in how I approach situations with my little ones. Not like everything is smooth sailing yet, but maybe I need to keep rereading this and a few other certain titles until more of the techniques and principles 'stick'.

I really felt this book gave me some insight into the minds of kid that a lot of others didn't. For instance, the stuff about aggressive play and how it can be beneficial to let the kids work out their stuff th
Feb 14, 2013 Tara rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
Loved this book! So why not 5 stars? Because it does not have a quick-pick selection of games or ideas to initiate play or suggestions for certain types of situations. I feel like I would need to keep rereading the book and make my own list. (That's fine of course, but the book would be greatly enhanced if that were done for the reader.) This book should be read by all parents!
Dec 04, 2012 Eleni rated it it was amazing
The best book I've read on parenting. I love the fact that it inspires respect towards children and understanding that they have needs and are not just acting out. If you truely want to become a good parent then this book is a must-read!
Feb 18, 2015 MN rated it really liked it
I liked the book. Really helped me see the world through a child's perspective. A must read for all parents and especially for first-time parents.
Mar 12, 2010 Jeannette rated it really liked it
Shelves: mommy-books
I've only read a few chapters of this so far. And it's revolutionizing how I interact with my toddler! *thumbs up!*
Dec 11, 2015 Katie rated it liked it
I will be more playful. A bit woo woo... I will try to wrestle more with my kids.
Catalin Negru
Jul 31, 2016 Catalin Negru rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology, parenting
Target audience: Parents who want to improve or strengthen the relations with their children.

About the author: According to, Lawrence J. Cohen is a licensed psychologist specializing in children's play and play therapy. In addition to his private therapy practice, he is also a speaker and consultant to public and independent schools, and a teacher of parenting classes and classes for daycare teachers. His books have been translated into fourteen languages.

Structure of the bo
Aug 04, 2014 ilaanya rated it liked it
Shelves: parenting
In general, I liked this book. I think he has some great points and I am thinking of buying this book (checked it out at the library) because there are some really good ideas I'd like to share with my husband and to keep as a reference. However, I started this review off with 5 stars; then I started actually writing the review, and now it is down to 3.

This book helped give me new ideas for play, ideas for reshaping how I think about play, esp. when I don't want to, and how to use play to turn a
Whole And
Nov 26, 2013 Whole And rated it it was amazing
More stars please....this one is a keeper and re-reader.

A definite, absolute must read for all parents of children of all ages, those wanting to be parents and those being with children.

"Playful Parenting" offers profound perspectives, approaches, insights and examples of how to REACH children, how to be with them during challenging times and how to enrich our overall experience with our children. The outcome of Dr. Cohen's approach will be enhanced closeness and connection, no matter where you
Mar 22, 2008 Elizabeth rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: parents, teachers, childcare providers, families
Shelves: family, 2008
"We complain about children's short attention spans, but how long can we sit and play marbles or Barbies or Monopoly or fantasy games before we get bored and distracted, or pulled away by the feeling that getting work done or cooking dinner is more important." p.3

i just finished this book and it is really good. I think this book is a good way to apply attachment parenting to older children. Essentially it is a book for adults on how to play with children. There were a few chapters in the middle
Marika Alexander
Aug 14, 2013 Marika Alexander rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! The author is a play therapist and his stance is that whenever children act in ways that typically annoy parents, such as whining, excessive crying, bullying, aggression, not listening to directions, that child is acting out due to a lack of human connection. And yet adults tend to ignore or punish children from acting out, at times when they are most in need of love and affection. Children retreat into the "twin towers of isolation and powerlessness" and the best way to get t ...more
Jul 11, 2009 s rated it it was amazing
i enjoyed this book immensely--more than any other "attachment-style" parenting book i've read. cohen diligently and single-heartedly explains the need to connect with your child and how to keep that connection alive. too bad you can't use some of these concepts with adults! but, somehow i doubt most friends/partners would take trying to pull one another's socks off or playfully wrestling as a method for healing relationship problems. but, then again, maybe that depends on the auldt! ha!

my favor
April (The Steadfast Reader)
Overall I really liked this book. It gives some incredible tips on becoming more engaged with our children and how play is the language that our children use to express and deal with big and small hurts, disappointments, and trauma. It's definitely an extremely kid-centric theory of parenting.

Cohen stresses over and over again the importance of actually connecting with our children. He stresses that physical engagement in play is not only appropriate, it's absolutely necessary. He recommends th
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Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D., the author of PLAYFUL PARENTING, is a licensed psychologist specializing in children's play and play therapy. In addition to his private therapy practice, he is also a speaker and consultant to public and independent schools, and a teacher of parenting classes and classes for daycare teachers. Dr. Cohen is also the co-author, with Michael Thompson and Catherine O'Neill Gr ...more
More about Lawrence J. Cohen...

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“I’m always amazed when adults say that children “just did that to get attention”. Naturally children who need attention will do all kinds of things to get it. Why not just give it to them?” 6 likes
“My wife was out and I was home alone with Emma when my mother called. She said, "Oh, so you're babysitting?" As politely as I could manage, I answered, "I call it fathering." She realized immediately what she had said and apologized. I realized that when she was a child, and again as a mother of young children, father's active involvement with their infants was so minimal that it could fairly be called baby-sitting.” 4 likes
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