My late stepfather was a gastroenterologist – you know, those docs who deal with those long tubes that start at your mouth and end at your bottom. He used to tell a story about a well-dressed woman who came into his office with abdominal pain. He asked her how many times a day she passed gas. She looked him straight in the eye and, in all seriousness, said, “never”. He looked back at her and said, “Ma’am, the only kind of person who doesn’t pass gas is a dead one.”

Just as the best-dressed person must pass gas, so must our children release the fears, frustrations, and hurts that build inside as they move through this crazy world. Some of you may gasp, but read on.

“I want to take a shower with you!” my 7-year-old shouts at me with such rage you’d think I just threatened to permanently remove sugar from his diet.

“Well, Sweetie, I just took a shower, so I’m happy to turn the water on for you, but I need to head downstairs to make breakfast for everyone.”

“NO!!! I want you to stay up here with me!” (His voice is now cracking from screaming so loudly.)

“Sorry, Sweetie. I would love to shower with you, but this morning won’t work. Let’s do it on the weekend”


Yes, you heard it. (Because I have worked with sooooo many parents, I know your kids’ “farts” all come out in some form or another. This one came out in the form of “fucker”.)

“Butt head! Fart face!” I throw back at him.

“Fucker!” he lobs at me again, this time paired with 60 pounds of solid flesh.

“Whoa! Whoa!” I say, giving him some resistance which leads us out of the bathroom and to the foot of my bed.

Then an idea pops into my head. I toss him onto the bed and suggest, playfully, that he go back to sleep, and we try this “good morning” thing all over again. I plop myself down on the bed next to him and model closed eyes and light snoring. He looks at me as if to ask, “Are you serious?” And then he closes his eyes and pretends to snore. I take the cue.

“Good morning, sweet boy! Time to get up.”

“I want to take a shower!” he shouts again, albeit with slightly less rage than before.

“Oops! Quick! Go back to sleep!” I say light heartedly. “It didn’t work. Let’s try again.”

Again, he takes my direction.

“Good morning, sweet boy! Time to get up.”

He giggles.

“Help me up,” he says with a grin, and extends his hands half-heartedly in my direction.

I oblige, and together we make our way to the boys’ room, where I leave him to get dressed while I pop downstairs to make breakfast.

Moving towards our kids is so important – even more so in those moments when we feel it’s the last thing we want to do. As parents, we are all faced with children asking for things that we cannot or do not want to give. Sometimes we’re in a hurry. Sometimes the request is unsafe or unreasonable. Sometimes we just don’t have the interest. Play is a great tool that can help turn lemons into lemonade. A simple game can turn that feeling of “Argh!” into “Aww!”

Some of us love a good pillow fight or a game of chase. Others…well, not so much. The good news is that regardless of what you feel, you can learn how to use play strategically in your parenting. Play helps children overcome fears and move from rigid behaviors to flexible thinking. Most importantly, play reminds us that we love one another – even in a fart-filled room 😉

How have you used play to get through a tough time with your child? Please post your comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!