Be a Big Kid! The Importance of Cutting Loose

“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.” —Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan’s main game is basketball, of course, but his advice applies to all of life. It’s important especially for parents and kids to sometimes get silly and funny and not-so-serious together. Plenty of research1 shows that it’s good for your overall well-being AND your relationships! Psychologist and author Lawrence Cohen writes, “Playful Parenting2 means joining children in their world of play, focusing on connection and confidence, giggling and roughhousing, and following your child's lead.” In other words, "playful" is primarily a state of mind. To get you thinking about what it might look like in your situation, here are some suggestions from some our ParentFurther friends and families:

Ideas for all parents...

  • Turn on upbeat music and get your bodies moving.
  • Teach your child a game you played as a kid. Remember "Red Light, Green Light", "Monkey in the Middle", or "Simon Says"?
  • Make goofy shapes out of pancakes, sandwiches, or other food.
  • Have your own Crazy Hair Day.
  • Throw a “Tuesday Party” or other random celebration.
  • Get a beach ball and go kick it around outside. Try to keep it from hitting the ground.

    For parents with children ages birth to 5...

  • Make silly faces at your baby.
  • Read funny, wild books to your child. is a user-rated, book review site that is also great place to discover fun and interesting books for kids.
  • Sing songs together. Sing in the car, sing at home, and sing at different times of the day!
  • Learn how to make shadow puppets on a wall together.

  •   For parents with children ages 6–9...
  • Go to a puppet show, story hour, or other fun event at a local library or museum.
  • Play games like "20 Questions" or "The Alphabet Game" when traveling by car or bus.
  • Throw an impromptu dance party!
  • Go to community events, like festivals and carnivals together. For ideas, Google "365 things to do __[in your city]___." Many cities have webpages and Facebook groups dedicated to finding fun near you.

    For parents with children ages 10–15...

  • If your child plays a sport, invite other parents and team members to an informal parent-child match. Make sure everyone knows it’s just for fun.
  • Have a costume party with some of your and your kids’ friends.
  • Sometime, when you are both in the right mood, watch humorous online videos together. Here's a good one:


    For parents with teens ages 16-18...

  • Teens in this age group can be moody. Be ready to seize the moment by dropping what you are doing and joining in when your teenager is feeling lighthearted and playful.
  • Have a snowball or water balloon fight.
  • Go do something that’s fun that you are both kind of bad at…perhaps bowling, mini-golf, or Frisbee.
  • Click here for more family fun ideas!


    2. Playful Parenting

    3. Photo Credit: Lindsey Gee on Flick’r.