In Defense of Silliness & Spontaneous Dance Parties

This morning during breakfast, as Bruce Springsteen was playing on the iPod, I jumped up, grabbed my daughter’s electric guitar and rocked out to “Born To Run.” I couldn’t help myself! My six year-old looked at me, wide-eyed, with wonder and glee. After calling me weird, she jumped up and joined in, followed by my husband and son and a spontaneous dance party exploded culminating in us all grooving and giggling to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”

Every morning should start off with silliness and a spontaneous dance party. It’s good for the soul, not to mention the cardiovascular system.

Admittedly, it’s a distraction from the “business” of the morning. Making lunches, brushing teeth, playing Minecraft on the iPad, packing backpacks. Yes, we were rushed as the minutes ticked by on the clock ….. but it was so worth it!

Every kid needs to see their parents being silly, every now and then. If we are always instructing, nagging, shuffling them from A to B, focusing on chores and homework, well, it’s all quite dull. The occasional goofiness provides healthy perspective. It tells them that we don’t always take everything so seriously, that we can be light-hearted and laugh at ourselves. Seriously folks, it’s even the secret to my happy marriage!

Silliness defies age. In fact, it keeps you young at heart. Being silly keeps you present and in the moment. If fosters togetherness. And, later in the day, you can reminisce about your antics and giggle a little to yourself.

Silliness has its time and place, for sure. Not every morning is suited to spontaneous dance parties. but, if the music moves you, I say go for it, let it rip. Your kids will start the day smiling and what’s better than that?

Guest Post: Talking to Kids about their Art

by Theresa Harris

When your child brings home their art from school, what’s your typical response? “Wow”, “It’s beautiful!”, or “I love it”?

This isn’t a trick question. No matter what your response, it’s understood that as parents and caregivers, our role is to support and encourage our budding artists, regardless of skill level. But here’s something to consider: What was going through your child’s brain when they drew that picture or painted that landscape? What did they imagine? Is the image part of a larger story? Is it fantasy-based or realistic? Does their art say anything about their hopes, their dreams or their fears? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could get into their creative minds a little bit and understand what their experience and process was when making art?

Art is so much more than what happens on the page. It’s also about the inspiration, creative thinking, and innovation. When you start thinking of art in this way, it opens up a whole range of possibilities for you to explore with your child.

How do you get the dialogue going? Here are five conversation starters you can use to talk to your child about their art in a thoughtful way. The questions are part of a parent education program I’ve started called “Art Talk.” The questions are straightforward, yet are designed to quickly draw out deeper levels of artistic thinking.

Here are 5 main questions to ask your child about their art:

  1. What did you create? What process did you use in making your art? What materials did you use and why? How did you plan your picture? Why did you use those colors?
  2. What do you see? What is this? Is it a thing or a place? Real or imaginary? What is happening in the picture?
  3. What did you learn? Did you use a new material or learn a new technique? Who taught you? Was it hard or easy? Show me how you did it so I can see what you’ve learned.
  4. What do you love? What do you love about this artwork? Are you happy with your work? Are there certain parts that you like better than others?.
  5. What do you wish? If you were to make this again, would you do anything differently? Would you use a different material, color or composition? Is there anything you’d like to change?

For more ideas for using Art Talk with your kids, take a look at the Parent Tip Video at  www.thriveart.com/arttalk

When kids are given the opportunity to talk about their art and share their experiences, it can enhance their self-awareness and confidence. When I’ve used this tool with my students and with my own child, I’ve been amazed at how capable they are at being reflective, and their responses are often incredibly insightful, and sometimes hysterical! Oh- the things they come up with!

What are some of the fun and insightful things your kids have said when you get them talking about art?

Theresa Harris is founder of Thrive Art School in Seattle and Thrive Art Online, a video-based art program for kids. When she is not is playing legos and making messes with her two lively boys age 2 & 4, she loves to hike and paint with encaustics.

theresa

Four Great Parenting Tips That Work For Me

Advice about parenting is everywhere. From the grandmotherly types who tell you your baby is not dressed warmly enough while you are waiting in line at the grocery store, to whichever Tiger or French Mom book is the parenting manual du jour. Or maybe you actively seek out advice via blogs, magazines or from other Mom at groups, schools or the playground. I know my circle of Mom friends have been utterly indispensable, helping me navigate through and survive the poop, teething, tears, bed-wetting, picky eating and tantrums over the years. Sharing our stories, offering a shoulder to cry on and a good belly laugh, ideally over alcoholic beverages, have helped a load too.

Sometimes, just when you think you’ve really nailed this Mom thing, along comes the front cover of TIME magazine asking are you “Mom enough?” Thanks so much TIME for making us even more insecure than we already were. (And by the way, if ever doubt your “Mom-enough-ness,” I recommend you read this great post by blogger Sharon DeVellis over at YummyMummyClub.)

For me, there have been parenting tips that have worked and some that have bombed. There are those that sound great in principle but just don’t fit my kids, our lifestyle or my threshold for yelling. I also find that the hardest part is remembering to actually use these tips, especially in the midst of a meltdown in Target or Friendly’s.

The following are four parenting tips that have worked for me — when I’ve remembered to use them. Some came from friends, some from my own Mom, some from parenting articles and blogs. They may or may not work for you. That’s your call. To each their own.

  • “When … then …”: Example: “when you finish [insert chore/request/food item] then you can [insert reward/positive outcome]. It’s essentially a form of tit for tat. You do for me, I’ll do for you. Works like a treat with my daughter. Especially if I offer to do a silly dance as the reward.
  • Pick your battles: An oldie but a goodie. Knowing when it’s worth digging in with your kid to make a point, or just letting it go for the sake of peace. Case in point when my three-year old once threw a wobbly over the T-shirt I had selected for her one day. I decided to stand my ground. That T-shirt or no T-shirt. She opted for the latter and so I sent her to preschool topless. Was I mean? Maybe. Did she learn who the boss was? Damn right. Does she still challenge me? Every day! Ah well.
  • Get on down: I can often be found yelling down the stairs, issuing commands from another room, negotiating peace treaties. But nothing works better I’ve found than getting down to your kid’s level, making eye contact, talking with and listening to them. It must be so much nicer for them than being shrieked at from a distance. It also helps you appreciate the view from their perspective, quite literally.
  • Collaborative consequences: This is a new one for me, but my seven-year old has bought into it (so far). When a recent infringement was discovered, I asked him what he thought the proper consequence should be. He proposed a thoughtful and reasonable “punishment” which resonated with him. I tweaked it a little and we were good to go.

What parenting tips have saved your sanity and kept everyone happy, nurtured and safe? You’re more than welcome to borrow mine, if you think they could help you and your family. Just keep paying it forward so that the Mom species survives.

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