Excerpt: The Power of Parent-Child Play, Toys and Play

Persistence in Being Silly

Break through your misconceptions about play, try something new, and be prepared to enjoy more creative, joy-filled parenting!

Knock, knock. I opened the door to find a man about six foot four, in a business suit, carrying a briefcase.

“Would you like to buy some life insurance?” he asked in a teeny tiny voice. A most peculiar teeny, tiny, head towered atop the crisp white shirt and tie.

“Oh, yes!” I replied. “Please, do come in.”

The man entered with a weird, staggering walk. I invited him to have a seat. He stumbled backward into an easy chair, and with awkward exaggeration, he crossed one leg over the other. He giggled.

“Would you like a cup of coffee?” I asked.

“No, thanks,” he squeaked. “I feel a little sick.”

His odd-shaped stomach began to writhe. A growling noise came from inside his pants. Suddenly out of the front of the shirt, near the pants waistline, popped Tyler’s head. We unbuttoned the shirt to reveal three-and-a-half-year-old Aimee, sitting atop eight-year-old Tyler’s shoulders.

Ah, yes. Just another crazy evening at the Sargent house.

It started off with a little silliness and no real plan–Tyler just goofing off, climbing into and being swallowed up by a pair of his dad’s pants. We have funny pictures of the kids in diapers standing in Dad’s shoes, too. But once Gordy put Aimee on Tyler’s shoulders, buttoned a business shirt on her, and tucked it in at the waist, Tyler vanished. The result looked so bizarre, and so much like a real man with a child’s head, that we all decided to create a Sargent’s Funniest Home Video.

Various “takes,” which we spent the entire fun-filled evening on, culminated in the final version, complete with tie, briefcase, and Aimee’s insurance line. We enlisted the help of my dear friend Cyndi, who helped insure that Tyler (not being able to see a thing) wouldn’t accidentally step backward off the porch while Aimee knocked on the door!

Here is a random image just to give you a feel for what it was like, to help you picture our evening better. (Forgive the poor photography! The video is better but loooong so I have to figure out how to edit a snippet from it.)


As you learn to play more with your own family, you may find some strange ways to play, as we often have. I guess it takes being on the lookout for those things that have the potential to be funny, and toying with the ideas a bit. Events like the making of our video will stick in our children’s mind forever, and the video itself is now still hilarious to watch decades later by my kids. . . and their spouses!

[Excerpt from The Power of Parent Child Play (Chapter 15:  Establishing or Renewing a Playful Home); Copyright 2003, Laurie Winslow Sargent. All rights reserved. Original book published by Tyndale House Publishers in association with Alive Communications Literary Agency.]


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parenting, Responsibility and Self-Reliance, Toys and Play

7 Ways to Get Your Child to Clean His Room: What Supernanny forgot to tell the Phelps

Wondering how to get your child to clean his room? Here are a few tips Supernanny forgot, at least in this one episode.

On ABC’s Supernanny episode with the Phelps family (Season 6: Episode 3) plenty made me cringe. However, one scene stuck in my head for days.

In that scene, the mom repeatedly asked her child to clean up his toys. In a video shot of the floor, it looked as if every toy he owned covered it. Most moms can identify with that: Lego® blocks, mixed with action figures, mixed with who-knows-what. Aaack!

When the boy didn’t comply, Mom became enraged. Yelling and spanking didn’t work. Supernanny Jo’s suggestions, including the infamous Time Out (until the boy agreed to pick up his toys), plus anger management for Mom, helped some. Indeed, Mom had to handle her anger differently. (See Kathy Collard Miller for inspiration for Christian moms with anger issues.)  And I’m all for time-outs, although effectiveness varies according to personalities.

Yet critically missing from Supernanny’s advice were tips on how to prevent the problem in the first place.

Continue reading “7 Ways to Get Your Child to Clean His Room: What Supernanny forgot to tell the Phelps”