Using Humor to Diffuse a Bad Attitude

by Jimmie Lanley on December 17, 2010

I’ve got a tween. And that means that attitude issues crop up more commonly than in other stages.
reading poem

I love Jamie’s creative Tips for Creating a “Bad” Homeschool Day Routine where she tackles what to do on those days that could easily erupt into full-blown crisis mode.

One suggestion she didn’t mention (but I’m sure she uses) is humor. Here are two examples:

How to handle a cranky kid who doesn’t want to get out of bed in the morning.

Pull out your copy of I Am Not Going To Get Up Today! and read it outloud right there in the bedroom.

I tried this on Sprite one day. I read the book with lots of expression and acting out. Then I left the room. In just a few minutes she was up and dressed.

Sure, I could have flexed my parental muscles and demanded she obey. And she would have. But her attitude the entire morning would have been terrible. It took me only a few minutes to read the silly Seuss book, and it set a playful atmosphere for our homeschool day.

How to handle the exaggerated sighing over a particular assignment.

Get really dramatic and silly. Turn on your acting skills to the point that the child can’t stay serious at all.

One day Sprite gave off an exasperated sigh after I gave her some work to do. I reacted with, “This won’t kill you.”

But she contradicted me, “Yes, it will!”

That was my cue! Choking out through fake sobs, I said “Oh, it was great having you as a daughter, Sprite. I will miss you so much after you die from this work.” I followed up with pretend, uncontrollable sobbing and nose blowing, saying “It’s so sad to see you go in this tragic way… killed by homeschool.”

Of course, Sprite couldn’t maintain her bad attitude. She dissolved in laughter at the absurdity of the situation.

Why Humor Works

Your child is not expecting you to use this tactic, first of all. The sheer novelty of it will catch her off guard and change the tone of the interaction.

And humor makes us laugh– both of us, parent and child.When we laugh, our frustration just melts away.

Although I am a firm believer in instilling obedience and discipline in our children, I do think that using humor at times is a great way to fulfill the command in Colossians 3:21 not to exasperate your children.

What about you? Do you ever use humor to deal with cranky kids? Share your tactics with us.

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