Parents: Good Games go Bad – It’s not the End of the World!

This morning our two youngest boys were playing together. Mr Owl, who is seven, was pushing Mr Butterfly, who is two, on the swing. Then he began to twist the swing ropes and Mr B laughed his head off as he spun around and around.

They played this way for around 15-20 minutes: both laughing; both making great eye-contact with each other (I peeked, OK!); both of their bodies full of the joys of play.

I went to check facebook, as you do, and there was a scream of pain. Mr B had hit his head on the side of the frame. The swinging and twisting combination had been just a little too enthusiastic on Mr O’s part.

I walked outside calmly, removed Mr B from the swing and gave him a Boring Cuddle. Soon he stopped crying and we came inside for a snack.

No-one had done anything wrong. Mr O hadn’t intentionally hurt his smaller brother. He had just gotten so involved in the game that his enthusiasm had taken control of his body and brain, and he had misjudged distances.

We introduced the phrase, “Good game, gone bad,” a while ago. It describes this sort of situation perfectly. Everyone is having fun; someone gets carried away; someone gets hurt; the game stops.

The learning and emotional connection both boys gained from the experience far outweighed the pain Mr B had to deal with. Pain is not bad. Learning to manage pain is good. Preventing our children from doing things, perhaps getting something wrong and then learning from their mistakes, is a disaster. (Like this situation, sheeesh : http://grist.org/list/high-school-seniors-suspended-for-biking-to-school/)

One of my favourite New Zealanders, Celia Lashlie, puts it perfectly:

Do you want your child’s first decision to be to accelerate or brake at an amber light?

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About Karyn @ kloppenmum

kloppenmum is me, Karyn Van Der Zwet, mother of three and ex-teacher. I'm part of a revolution in parenting, with the aim to raise mature (not sophisticated) and self-assured children. I also know some stuff about adults. I have also had articles printed in The Journal for The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Children and Young People) and the US parenting magazine, Pathways to Family Wellness, as well I regularly write for World Moms Blog (named as one of the Forbes 100 most useful blogs for women 2012 &2013). You can follow me on facebook (kloppenmum) pinterest (Karyn at Kloppenmum) and twitter (@kloppenmum). I'm also vaguely on LinkedIn (Karyn Van Der Zwet). Thanks to Joe (Mr Hare) for taking the photo. Cheers, son: xxxx.
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8 Responses to Parents: Good Games go Bad – It’s not the End of the World!

  1. Oh, Karyn, I love this and will forward it to a few special moms in my life. It takes a pretty grounded and aware parent to frame that accident with Mr. Butterfly in such non-judgmental language, and your choice to not assign some consequence (to ‘teach a lesson’) actually allowed Mr. Owl more emotional space to empathize and reflect than being upset at a punishment for something unintentional.

    “Good game gone bad”…I’ll have to use that!

    And I did read the link (about the seniors biking to school) out loud to my husband. We both were horrified at the lack of confidence this principal had in the kids she would soon graduate and send out into the world. Yes, let them make decisions early on, before they are driving, paying rent and living on their own. Good heavens!

    • Hazel, thanks so much for your continued support and for your enthusiasm – it helps me immensely when I worry about changing parenting paradigms… I agree with you about the high school students, here were some really sensible young adults who had thought their actions and impact through really carefully and yet the person in the position of authority couldn’t act with maturity.

  2. blaxter says:

    Wow, what amazing stupidity that principal had! And what a lovely way you had of dealing with your own potential crisis. I love “Good game gone bad” and will certainly remember it. It so brings down the arousal levels of both participants because no one is going to be the victim or the aggressor. Very useful.

    • Yes (principal). And Yes, children get over excited and things go wrong. I get over excited and things go wrong! Hyper-arousal is the perfect term for what happens, certainly the child doing the damage isn’t in a conscious state at the time. I don’t know when I started using “good game gone bad”, certainly for some years – call it having three very energetic sons!! 🙂

  3. Laura Weldon says:

    “Good game gone bad” is a fantastic term. Describes grown-up problems too! I plan on stealing it.

  4. Marta says:

    Oh I like good game gone bad. I’d hate to have my kids not go on the swing again because its really not a fault of the activity it was just an accident!

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