How to Encourage Discipline in Children: Principle #7d

We have been focusing our discussions on how to help our children self-regulate by using effective discipline strategies. We have also been discussing the seventh principle which is to “avoid discipline struggles whenever possible.” One final way we can avoid these struggles is to use humor. Yes, you can use humor.  We often think discipline has to be serious and difficult. However, humor is a vital tool that can help tremendously in disciplining our children.

How to use humor to discipline effectively

Asian Child Smiling
Use humor (sensitively) to divert undesired behavior and transform a negative to a positive.

Humor is a very effective way to transform a negative situation to a positive one. Subjecting a child to teasing, laughing at the child, and cruel joking at the child’s expense is destructive and demeaning. However, kind imitation of a child or making light of a situation, if done sensitively, may help a child to see the funny side of what he is doing and turn the negative to positive.

Here is a unique situation in which a child’s imagination and humor was stimulated by her father: 

Three-year-old Emma had quite a sense of humor. So, when she got oppositional, she could often be brought to cooperate if her father started making up simply rhymes about her situation, such as. . .

Poor little Emma is angry. She’s mad as a person can be. But out popped a wonderful monster. And danced with her until she was free.

Emma’s parents would sing these poems to her and dance around with her, and usually she quickly changed back to her happy self,  laughing hysterically. Moreover, she was much more amenable to undertake the task that had to be done. However, parents also need to make sure that they are not dismissive of their child’s difficult or negative emotions when they are using humor. (See previous posts on rules.)

Using humor can disarm many tense situations. It puts children in a much better brain state so they are able to be calmer and more capable to reason rather than react with high emotions or experience levels of threat.

Sometimes it is just better to divert them with humor. Be creative, even a bit unorthodox and help them to laugh at themselves.  That we should always be able to laugh at ourselves is a great principle to live by. It is one of those things that universally heals and builds healthy relationships.

Gerry Vassar,  President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network

Information taken from Pathways to Competence, Sarah Landy, p. 406-407.

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