Wednesday, 18 January 2012

‘Give us a clue’, ‘Call my bluff’ and other fun games

Children play the most wonderful games.  There is real beauty to their imaginations.  I love how my little girl enjoys getting her toys together for ‘teddy bear picnics’, how she is really starting to explore creative play and dressing up in cute Disney-inspired costumes.

These aren’t the games I really mean of course.  I wrote that first sentence half sarcastically.  Of course children play the most wonderful games…at times.  But, for the purposes of this post, I’m talking about the other sort of ‘games’; the ones that can have parents (and sometimes children) tearing their hair out in frustration.

It all starts when they’re born.  From that first moment when they open their cute pouty lips and scream the flipping house down, it’s a case of “Give us a clue”.

“Why are you crying?  Are you hungry?  Wet?  Need a cuddle?  Or do you just revel in my misery??!”

Of course, it doesn’t end there.  Oh no, it only gets more interesting as they get older.  My little girl soon learnt that grunting and pointing would normally get her what she wanted.  When my husband and I eventually realised this and stopped pandering to it, she wasn’t best pleased.  We all had to start learning to communicate with each other.  Cue more guesswork…

“Oof eese ‘ummy.” (Translation: “juice please Mummy”)

“Aggy a errrk.” (Translation: “Daddy at work”)

But at least that ‘game’ is kind of fun.  We’re now past this stage and onto the next one: The much less fun game of “Call my bluff”.  It’s the one where your terrible two-year-old does something they know is naughty but they give you a little half-smile while they do it, like they’re daring you to discipline them.  You tell them off.  They continue to ‘act up’, still with that little half-smile on their adorable face and possibly looking you straight in the eye while they’re at it.  It’s an exercise in pushing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour to see how long it takes before you snap.  Yes, this is a great game (voice dripping with heavy sarcasm).

My little girl has been playing this one with me for a while now, normally at mealtimes to avoid having to eat things she doesn’t want to (the whole fussy eater thing is a different issue entirely).  I’ve tried the ‘Supernanny’ technique of giving warnings before a consequence. Sometimes it has a (temporary) effect.  Sometimes it has no effect at all.  Sometimes I find that ignoring her behaviour makes her calm down quicker and behave.  Sometimes it makes her more het up.

This parenting lark is a load of fun isn’t it?!* 

So, what ‘games’ do your children play with you?  And how do you handle them? 

* I must add, in fairness to my two little ones, they are only little monsters about 20% of the time.  They are mostly smiley, happy darlings for which I am always grateful.

This is a guest post from Laura, a mum of two little ones under the age of three, and author of the parenting blog, Chez Mummy. As well as writing about her (mis)adventures in parenting on her blog, Laura also pens the weekly intro for the Love All Blogs video showcase and writes a monthly round-up of health-related blog posts for BritMums.  In her spare time she...Oh wait, what spare time??!  Come and say hi on twitter or Facebook.

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