Opinion Saturday: Cheering kids up

I was thinking of the power that laughter has to bind our children’s hearts to us. So often if we can get a cranky kid to laugh, we’ll win him over.

I shared quite awhile ago how when my kids get to feeling sorry for themselves I’ll sometimes sing that old HeeHaw song “Gloom, Despair, and Agony On Me” with the most pitiful face I can muster. Busts ’em up every time.

So what do you do to cheer your kids up? What makes them smile when they’ve got the doldrums? Or what can you do that makes them outright belly-laugh?

You have till Monday evening to share how you use humor in your parenting. We could all use a few more ideas in that department, so hit me with your best thought!

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  1. my son is only 18 months old so it is pretty easy to turn his cries into laughter. For some reason when he started to say the word “bongos”, everyone would laugh. So now if we prompt him to say “Bongos” we all laugh hysterically, which makes him laugh in response.
    He is also one who loves to be chased or scared a little bit. Both these actions make him laugh.
    There is also many ticklish spots on him so Caleb is usually crying for one minute and laughing for ten. I’m not too sure if this would help anyone in there own situation, but it sure does work for him.

  2. Just last night my daughter was wailing after she hit her hand on the door. We gave her the proper amount of sympathy but then Scott said something to the dog and she said, “You care more about the dog than you do me!”

    I told her, “Of course we care about the dog more, we’ve always loved the dog more than you, I thought you knew that my now.”

    She started laughing at the absurdity of it, and going along with the bit, “You always make sure she has food and you even make me feed her!” so I told the dog, “From now on you have to feed the daughter.” That got her giggling.

    Otherwise it’s usually stories about themselves that get them laughing. Like cute anecdotes about when they were little.

  3. The things we use most often are: tickling and silly faces and over-sympathizing. If a child gets a paper cut on his or her finger we might say something like, “OH NO! I think it’s going to fall off! We’re going to have to rush you to the emergency room and they’ll have to take x-rays and then they’ll need to put a giant cast on it and maybe even do SURGERY!” (all said in an overly dramatic way!) They usually look at us like we are crazy for a minute then laugh, as if to say, “Mom, you’ve really lost it now!” I’ve also been known to get out huge band-aids for tiny boo-boos; the kids usually stop me, telling me that, “No! It’s really just a little boo-boo! Silly Mama!” 😀

  4. Like any 5 year boy, bodily functions or even the thought of them cracks up my son. I leave that kind of humor to his siblings (and Pong Pongee – the Korean farting doll :).

    I am afraid that much of what makes my kids laugh are things that I just say or do naturally. Some of my “senior moments” really amuse my teens and preteen.

    In many ways I see myself turning into my mother, which I guess is a good thing. When I missed a turn the other day and shouted out, “Dang-a-lang-a-lang” and my kids just howled. I don’t even know where that came from – it just popped out.

    Maybe my mother is up there in Heaven amusing herself by putting silly words into my mouth. That thought makes me smile!

  5. When our eldest granddaughter was moping and sulking not long ago, I pulled her down into my lap and began in a very exagerated sad voice to say things like, “I’m fifteen years old, and I’ll sulk if I want to! WHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYY can’t I spend day and night on the computer? HHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW did I ever end up with such a big, unreasonably affectionate family? I’m not going to laugh or smile or show my dimples alllllllll weeeeekennnd!” First she smiled, then she laughed, and for the next fifteen or twenty minutes I got to rock her and cuddle her and she actually *talked* to me about her friends, school, soccer team, and why she doesn’t want a boyfriend right now. She may be nearly a head taller than me now, but for those few minutes she was Mimi’s baby again.

  6. Whenever my 7 year old gets upset and sticks his bottom lip out, I threaten to bite it off. I say, “Oh, I’m going to bite that lip off!” It quickly turns into a game where he will stick his lip out in my face and then dart away just in time as I act like I’m going to bite it. He always ends up laughing and cheered up.

  7. We are a very strange family and come up with some quirky ideas, but here goes: if the kids were crying because they hurt themselves and I knew it was nothing serious I would tell them I was sorry and give them a hug and then I would ask them if they could still hop on one foot. They immediately started hopping and forgot what they were whining about. Pretty soon they were laughing and all of them were hopping around.

    Another thing we do is if they are in one of those moods is look them straight in the eye and say, “Don’t smile.” Thankfully ouir kids instantly crack and are smiling and happy again. I use the same trick at church to on my 3rd and 4th grade girls. Works like a charm!

  8. When my kids get into self-pity mode, I generally try to joke them out of it. Both of them stick out their bottom lip when they pout, which prompts me to say (in an exaggerated voice), “Put that lip away!” Or sometimes I will say, “If you stick your lip out far enough, maybe a bird will land on it.” This usually causes them to look cross-eyed down at their lip, and crack a smile by the absurdity of the situation.

    I also like to use the term, “Turn that frown upside down!” in a perky cheerleader voice, and then pick them up and flip them over, so their frown really is upside down. The kids love this and will laugh every time. Of course, then I have to spend the next few minutes repeating the upside-down-frown ritual due to their many “Can you do that again please?” requests. 🙂

  9. Oh, I dance. Nothing like a middle aged white girl with two left feet and absolutely no sense of rythm doing her best “Flashdance” impression, to shock my kids right out of their doldrums. It’s especially fun if we’re out, say, in the mall. Muzak specializes in bad 80’s music just for your shopping pleasure. They completely forget why they were forlorn and sad. And I don’t stop until they laugh. Out loud.

  10. I read similar story at the Ethiopian Portal website:


    You might be able to search the article (using the search tool found at the right column) in the news section using a key word.

    May God bless you and your big family!



  11. Sometimes I’ll use silly or unexpected words, like, “Here let me get you a drink out of the trash can,” other times I’ll act like I’m going to ask them to do something but instead invite them to do something with me. For example, “john, will you please…. play a game with me?” or “race me to the car.” That kind of thing.


  12. We can always get them to smile this way

    There’s a smile in your tummy and it’s coming up…coming up..I see it coming up…Ahhh there it is!

  13. Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a group of women I really did not know I have seen 2-3 times butnever have spoken with . My topic was balancing our lives physically As part of a night of balance the other 2 speakers were on Intelectual and spiritual I spoke about exercise , sleep and laughter we had so much fun I had them do a few Yoga poses ,we di not sleep:) but we laughed and i just started w/ a hearty laugh and they all joined in and it was so cathartic, I have had 4 of those people seek me or my sister out to tell me what a huge impact that laughter has had in their lives and one in particular has her little boys make her laugh each day. She has done some Yoga , cut her waist length hair and looks so happy. I so believe laughing people get happy not just happy people laugh:)

  14. Humor is a part of everyday life around here. None of the children have been much for throwing fits because I usually imitate their behavior. They start laughing and that’s the end of it. When they yell “Mommy” 500 times in a row within 30 seconds, I usually answer them by calling his/her name 500 times. When injuries occur, I always tell them it will be better before they get married–which nearly always brings a smile!!

  15. How funny! We have the same theme song for our children when they act sad or grumpy………. or both. However, they rarely respond with a belly laugh or giggle wtih just the song (Perhaps it is my voice. :/ ). Anyhooo, if I do a few dance steps( think of a hillbilly pooh bear) while singing the song, it ususally does the trick.

  16. When my kids are starting to fuss about something silly, I often say, “Let’s cry about it. Come on, let’s cry.” And then I put on the fake waterworks and they always laugh at me. They try not to sometimes, but I just keep getting sillier until they can’t help it. 🙂

  17. We do a lot of what the previous commentors do. We tell them not to laugh in a stern voice, but that only works for awhile. The teens get over thier funk really quickly if you sit on them and give them hugs and kisses until they are happy, they’ll be happy to get away.
    We treat booboos with the utmost sincerity, if there’s a bad owie, it must be cut off, NOW. They usually are fine then.
    We have lots of silly games and key words that get people going, like “Are you sure? Are you positive? Only fools are positive!” We try to get someone to say they are positive, and noone wants to be caught doing it! Then there’s the “Thank you for thanking me” game that goes back and forth until someone gets annoyed with them, lol.

  18. I’m not sure if my earlier comment posted, so if it did I apologize for leaving the same thing twice.

    I shake the grumpies out of my 3 1/2 yr old. I start with his feet or hands and gently shake/shake/shake and work my way up his feet and legs and tummy. Sometimes I include nose or ears, etc which is especially funny. He loves this and will usually pretend to still be grumpy even while laughing so I’ll do it again. He has always loved physical play/touch/roughhousing so I think this works well with him especially.

  19. Recently my sons have been pretty whiney about …well almost everything. To stop it in its tracks, I have started to sing “God Bless America” in my loudest voice. They usually will stop whining, start laughing and put there hands over my mouth. Then we will play the game of me singing a few words everytime they take their hand off my mouth.

  20. Hey Mary,

    I love reading your Opinion Saturday posts and I would love to read the earlier ones but it’s hard to look through all the archives. Could you create a ‘Opinion Saturday’ label under your categories? That would be so helpful!