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Using Play to Stop Name Calling

Using Play to Stop Name Calling

Does your child ever call you names? Or have you noticed your children’s friends are using it amongst themselves and you’d like them to stop?

If you have and you want it to stop, you may have tried the following:

  •  Asked them politely to stop
  • Reasoned with them by explaining it’s not a nice thing to do and / or pointing out how upset the other person feels (especially if it’s you!)
  • Used Reward Charts if they go a whole day / week without name calling
  • Got cross and hoped that your anger will result in the child stopping the undesired behaviour
  • Used punishments if your child continues with the name calling / potty mouth language

But have you ever thought about PLAY?!

It seems counter intuitive that we would be playful in trying to stop this annoying behaviour, but click on this really quick video to see how I used it with my 5 year old who was repeatedly calling me ‘poo poo bum bum head’ and how it really worked!

Now, you could feel worried that by playing in this way, that you might be actively encouraging this behaviour, and that your children will think you’ve given them a free pass to carry on.

In reality, the opposite is true.

According to Aletha Solter, author of many fabulous books including Attachment Play, “Cooperative play stimulates areas of the brain involved in the control of aggressive behaviour, and laughter resolves anger & anxiety by reducing stress hormones.”

By connecting with our children in a playful way, we help them deal with any feelings of anger, sadness or stress (which are often at the root cause of anti-social behaviour), so that they can think straight again and return to their loving, cooperative selves.

If they revert to this behaviour again later on, it can be a great indication that something is going on for them. If so, you could view it that they have a need to spend time reconnecting with you again – either by playing this game or by having fun in a different way.

You may also find that your child enjoys the freedom to use these ‘naughty’ words with you. By providing the playfulness at home, their need to use them generally diminishes, making it easier for you to set the limit at inappropriate times. The playful connection you’ve created, will mean your child is far more likely to comply.

So why not give it a go?! Try it on something that’s irritating you but that’s not a biggy. As Marion Rose of Parenting with Presence advised me – dive in, connect with your child and have fun!


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