My preteen son is preparing for his first leading role in a school play, and the pre-performance nerves are really starting to kick in now. I decided that an opportunity to laugh off some of those jitters and have some really good connection time would be a good idea.
This morning I took him out on the trampoline in the garden. We are in mid-winter here in the UK and the trampoline was soggy and the air cold, but it didn’t matter. We bounced like it was mid-summer and giggled and hugged – even the cat came and played too!
I then offered him 20 minutes Special Time. He chose to take me to the football field where we played very muddy and silly football.
There is so much peer pressure at school to be cool, to be good at sports, to be one of the ‘lads’. My son does well, but he is still subject to and feels these pressures. He’s also not the best at football.
I decided to do some playlistening and adopted the role of someone who thinks they are really good at football, pretending to do the fancy football tricks that he sometimes wants to show me. Of course, I made sure I kept getting them hopelessly wrong, making my feet fall over each other and missing every save and every penalty shot.
This really got the laughter going, and he wasted no opportunity to show me his own superior skills! I watched admiringly and celebrated when he scored goal.
Sometimes I went for the laughter and it fell short. “Mum, that was funny when I was five years old,” he said. Never the less, when we finished our play he flung his arms round me and said “Good Mummy”.
Shortly afterwards, he went off to his drama rehearsal visibly happy. I felt great too and really connected to him. I was so proud that I had physically pushed myself to be with him on the cold, muddy pitch, doing what he enjoys. I wouldn’t normally choose or want to play football, but I really enjoyed seeing him laugh.
And I just know that this playlistening time will help him in his very busy week of performances to come.
From the Hand in Hand Toolbox:
Find out why Play That Lets Children Lead is so powerful
Check out the new class for parents of 9 to 13 year olds, Staying Close to Your Tween.
Playlistening is one of Hand in Hand's Five Listening Tools. Download our free guide to the tools: 5 Revolutionary Ideas That Make Parenting Less Stressful
Certified Hand in Hand Instructor Sarah Charlton is based in the UK and holds classes in Sussex and London. Sarah runs classes for parents in groups and individuals in-person and online.
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