The true way to your child’s heart is through playful parenting. Here are some of our top tips on how to be a playful parent.

One of the best memories I have of my parents is of them goofing around with us. Mom with her quirky dance moves in the kitchen, and Dad’s love for game nights. In an age where the authoritarian style of parenting was the norm, they adopted a playful parenting approach. Throughout our childhood, they were wonderful playful parents, and 20 years later, that’s what I strive to be.

As time has changed, we’ve shelved the authoritarian style for other parenting approaches, one of which is the playful parenting style. Here’s a closer look at this approach and what it means to be a playful parent.

What Is Playful Parenting?

Lawrence Cohen, in his award-winning book, Playful Parenting, describes this approach as a method of joining children in their world of play to nurture skills, build lasting bonds and raise confident children. 

He believes the way to your child’s heart is through lots of giggles, rough-housing and following their lead. Simple, yet so powerful!

Why Is Playful Parenting Important?

Think about it, aren’t your initial interactions with a baby, playful? 

‘Play’ has a vital role in a child’s life. Children explore, engage, and interact with the world around them through play. It is instrumental in helping children develop the skills, confidence, and resilience essential to survival. 

Likewise, playful parenting can help parents:

  • Build a positive, transparent relationship with their child, based on respect and love.
  • Instill children with a sense of security and confidence to approach and confide in parents, about their troubles. This is especially important in our current world. 
play with your kid
  • Be a parent without stress. The playful parenting technique helps to ease our burden of being perfect and organized every time. It enables us to redirect our energy and attention from the never-ending to-dos to our priority – the children. 
  • Naturally use positive reinforcements and praise in their interactions with their kids. 
  • Change their perspectives. You learn to find contentment in the little things, cherish moments and celebrate even the smallest success of the child instead of their academic achievements alone. 

Children grow up confident in the knowledge that their parents care for, and enjoy spending time with them.

How To Be A Playful Parent

There are no right or wrong ways of being a playful parent. The trick, as Cohen says is to join kids in their world of play. This can be by:

Being Silly:

Sometimes, being silly and humorous is the best way to diffuse a situation. 

Every time I have to referee a fight between the kids, I choose to act goofy instead of laying down the law. The more they whine and complain, the goofier I get until they’re more exasperated with me than each other. 4 out of 5 times, I see them choosing to make up with each other than deal with me. But choose your fights wisely, as some may need more involvement than others.

Be silly, make funny faces, or use different voices to turn brewing temper tantrums, fights, and whining into giggles, smiles, and laughter.

Playful Parents Instruct Through Play:

Instruct your child through play

Playful parents, try to impart learning through play. They are always thinking of fun ways by which to teach children. This is because children are likely to follow instructions when they are given in the form of play.

A playful wake-up song or sing-song instructions can get more results than simply instructing kids to get up and get ready. 

Try to start and end your day by being playful with each other. As you incorporate playful actions into your routine, you will observe parenting becoming easier and more stress-free.

Elicit Laughter:

There is nothing more joyful than the sound of children’s laughter. Use tickles, hugs, blow a raspberry and even pretend to be their favorite character to get your kids laughing.

When E refuses to clean up, I pretend to be a tickle monster, who likes to tickle kids till they agree to clean up. I’ve found this to be a more successful way of getting the kids to clean up, instead of shouting till I’m blue in the face.

Traditions And Spontaneity:

“Noodles again? We always have the same stuff every weekend!” 

At times you need the comfort of family traditions like game nights and movie nights. Other times, you need to be spontaneous and go for a short drive or treat yourselves to some ice cream. 

Although kids benefit from routines and organized living, the truth is monotony can become confining, leading us to crave for something more.

We all need some variety to add color and spice to our lives. Be spontaneous, change things around to refresh, and challenge both yourself and your kids.


Sometimes a bit of horseplay or roughhousing is just what the doctor recommended. While risky, this intense physical play does have its share of benefits, the most important of which is it is fun and helps you bond with your child.

Children crave their parents’ physical contact and a little roughhousing gives them this contact in the right dosage. A study reported that children who engage in physical and pretend play with parents are more socially competent and have a stronger attachment with their parents.

play with your kids


Once, in the spirit of wanting to make changes, I asked the kids what they would like me to do better. Pat came to the reply- play more with us. 

For children, play is the ultimate expression of parental love and attention. So why deny them the same? After all, is it not the quality of time spent with kids that matters more than the quantity? 

The playful parenting approach helps you form strong connections with your children, and gives you the tools to raise confident, resilient children, equipped with the skills to face all life challenges. Be playful parents and enrich your child’s life with play and laughter. 

Be playful parents and enrich your child’s life with play and laughter. 

And as for my children’s request- it’s a constant work in progress!

If you want to know more about how to build a strong relationship with your family, read more parenting advice, ideas, and strategies.