As a new mum, I had a fairly easy time singing to and playing with my baby. This continued as my son became a toddler, with a focus on being present, following his lead, and sharing in his joy.
As my son got older, I loved doing child-led play with him, often using soft toys, dolls or Lego figurines to play out scenes and story lines with him. We also loved to do play-doh, paint, and play in the garden together.
Some kinds of physical play also came really naturally to me. I progressed from the aeroplane game (where you lie on your back and balance your child on your feet above you) to doing all kinds of acrobatics with him.
➡️ But there was one kind of play that I really didn’t find easy. It didn’t come naturally to me at all …
💥 Power reversal games are one of the most powerful types of game you can play with a child, and they’re where you give the child the opportunity to be the faster, stronger, wiser one, by acting like the slower, weaker, less competent one.
💥 It is a super-charged kind of play that help kids to feel connected, and to release any stress and discomfort that has built up from times when they’ve felt frustrated and powerless (which tends to be a lot, for all children, due to them still growing and learning).
💥 Power reversal play really turns the tables, and kids typically laugh and laugh, and ask for more!
When I learnt about power reversal play, through reading and seeing others doing it, it was all about acting like “a bumbling fool”, being “goofy” and really “hamming it up”.
I guess it was a bit like slapstick (which I never enjoyed), with the suggestion of falling over your own feet, over-acting everything, etc.
No matter how much I wanted to, I just could not embody that kind of play, at least not in the way I had seen it done! It just didn’t resonate with me at all.
Then about 6 years ago, I was invited to be a ‘helper’ at a play workshop, and I declined, because I just didn’t feel like I was good enough at this kind of playing! I felt awkward and self conscious.
I thought maybe I was just no good at play. Perhaps I just didn’t have it in me.
But then, gradually, bit by bit, I started to find *my own style*, or at least, a style that worked for me, that felt comfortable, natural, and easeful.
At some point, I came across the book by B J Novak, “The Book With No Pictures”, and I immediately loved it. It was full of power reversal, with all its playful exaggeration of exasperation and indignation (and a good whack of nonsense!).
(Go check out B J reading his book aloud on Youtube! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZwY5BeYcyo)
The exaggeration was more verbal, which is more of a strength of mine, rather than the more physical exaggeration of the slapstick style. Now this was a style that I could make my own. It really gave my power reversal play a boost!
Once I had found my own style, I started to find it easier and easier to apply play to all manner of situations. It was very freeing, a lot of fun, and it has helped me through many challenging moments!
🌼 So if you are interested in playful parenting my advice to you is to try lots of different games, to play in many different ways, and to find what works for you (and your child/ren)!
🌼 Whether you’re a pro at slapstick, or find a different style more comfortable, I’d love to support you to Play *Your* Way!
🌼 The more comfortable you are, the more likely you’ll be willing to play and the more gusto you’ll bring to it, meaning more fun all around!
🌼 And if you’d like some specific examples of how to include power reversal into your play, I will be sharing some real life examples with you soon!
❓ I’m pretty sure it’s not just me who’s felt uncomfortable, awkward or self-conscious while playing? Let me know in the comments if you’ve felt that way too?