I’ve been reading a book called ‘Raise Your Kids without Raising Your Voice‘ and in the first chapter Sarah Chana Radcliffe talks about the 80/20 ratio of how we talk to our children.  She says:

“Eight out of ten parenting moments should be pleasant ones from the child’s point of view. Ideally, 100% of parental interactions are meant for the well-being of the child; however, not all interventions feel good to the child….Typical good-feeling interactions include smiling, hugging, touching, giving compliments, praising, using affectionate names, verbalizing love and affection, listening, playing, joking, giving treats, showing interest, sharing ideas and helping. … Typical bad-feeling interactions include yelling, criticizing, correcting, looking angry or displeased, complaining, ignoring, reprimanding, threatening, punishing, nagging, lecturing, interrogating, insulting, supervising, commanding, directing, and instructing.”

*Note that the bad-feeling interactions aren’t necessarily bad things, they’re just not necessarily ‘feel good’.

Since reading this, I’ve been remarkably conscious of how I speak to Ameli, and what I say to her, and how quickly my 20% quota runs out –especially on commanding, supervising and instructing.

Now, I spend a lot of time with Ameli, but how much of it is quality is debatable. We do a lot together – go to playgrounds, play groups, soft play, for walks, to the coffee shop and so on, but I don’t often play with her, even at the park or soft play – it’s usually more me watching her or talking to her. Neither of those are bad things either, but they’re not always as interactive and dedicated attention as play would be.  I have said before that I don’t really know how to play, and in secret I would admit that I find it boring, and imagination isn’t my strong point.  But I know that I’d love to learn to play, if only someone could teach me, because I realise that in play, and in playful parenting, there’s a lot more opportunity to utilise those good-feeling interactions in every day ways.

And then someone came along who could (maybe).

Anna, from The Imagination Tree, and Jamie from Hands On: As We Grow have set up a project called 30 Days To Hands On Play, and I’ve decided to try to participate as much as I can. I can’t promise I’ll take part every day or with every challenge, but I can promise that I’m going to try.

For me, and for my children.



Play And Positive Interaction

  1. That sounds like an easy ratio to keep in mind. Did you like the book? I am always up for a good read that would help me be a better parent.

    Also, I hope you have fun exploring playing this month. I think that I also “do” lots of things and have small amounts of playtime many times throughout the day, but aiming for a longer time continuously is a good challenge for me!

    1. @Amanda, Hi Amanda, I’m only on chapter one (I take forever to read books these days) but so far so good. It’s amazing though, the impact the 20/80 thing has had on my interaction with Ameli. Even today I started singing and ‘dancing’ in the car and it made her laugh and join in, which I think counts towards the 80. I look forward to it becoming habit though.

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