Needed: your parenting-with-humor stories

When dealing with a cranky kid, one of a parent’s best tools is humor. During my growing-up years, my dad would respond to a long face with an old HeeHaw song. His ridiculous rendition of  Gloom, Despair, and Agony on Me could make the crankiest kid crack a grin.  And once he had us laughing, everything felt better.  I’ve used that song a time or two myself.

At other times if someone at our house is unhappy over a situation, I’ll wildly exaggerate the situation to help put it into perspective.  For example, if a child is complaining about a job assignment that feels unfair, I’ll tell him that he’s exactly right– I always give him the most work, and he has the worst life of anyone in the universe.

Occasionally after I exaggerate something, I’ll see from the child’s response that I’ve exactly spoken his true thoughts, and we have an opportunity to talk through those feelings.  But more often my purposefully ridiculous statement will bring a smile to the child’s face and (hopefully) some perspective to his head.

Sometimes it’s possible to lighten a mood by acknowledging a child’s strength in a humorous way.   For example, if a child is arguing non-stop, I’ll tell him he’s always been fabulous at arguing, and he’s doing a great job practicing for his career as a lawyer.  After he cracks a smile, I remind him that unfortunately this moment isn’t the best time to practice.  And that truth spoken while we are both smiling is usually taken much more graciously.

How have you used humor lately in your parenting? I’d love to hear some success stories.

Pin It


  1. I use that (sparingly) in the classroom. When an assignment gets a groan or complaint, I acknowledge it matter-of-factly with “You’re right. I’m PROBABLY the meanest teacher in this school” which gets chuckles and brings it back into perspective (in fact, I struggle more with not being mean enough!)

  2. I tel my kids to ,under no circumstance, smile. That if they smile they will be in big trouble. They usually can’t resist giggling.

  3. I’m so thankful that my kids respond to humor as well. I was stubborn and wouldn’t fall for it when I was younger!

    When we are in a “situation” we switch into the James Bond-like character, Deadly Serious. “Serious. Deadly Serious.” A stern face, pursed lips, and a deep voice send the kids OFF THE HOOK with giggles and laughter.

  4. Honestly, I struggle to rise above the emotional swirl of the moment. I forget to laugh first. I pray to remember, it just doesn’t come naturally to me. Thanks for the reminder – I have a renewed desire to lighten up my life.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    When one of our young children pouts my husband flutters his hand like a bird and says, “A little birdy is going to land on that lip!” For some reason, the pouter ends up laughing about that and things are cleared up!

  6. We have been “hugging out” lately. When I know the situation has come to standoff or someone wants to walk away in anger, I throw my hands in the air and go in for a big bear hug. I wiggle and shake them shouting, “We just need to hug it out !”. Although I do not always receive a hug in exchange the tension has been cut and we can talk again.

  7. I used the ‘boy you debate so well you should be a lawyer’ with a daughter so much….you guessed it; she is in the legal field!!!
    Also when kids would complain about having to wait for the bathroom I would suggest going outside behind the garage which always brought a giggle.
    Kids (all teenagers) were dropping so much food recently at a meal that the next meal I brought out bibs for everyone which had us all in stitches.

  8. The overly exaggerated agreement usually worked pretty well for us, too.

    When dealing with little kids who are pouting, I’ve done the “I bet I can stick my lip out farther than you can” and made it a contest to see who can pull the biggest pout.

    When my son went through a period of attitude issues, I would sometimes tell him that I didn’t like the noise he was playing and would he please change the channel. If he didn’t respond pretty quickly, I would mimic turning a knob and make a “clicking” sound to indicate a switch. It took him a little bit to figure out what I meant the first time, but after that, he usually starting laughing when I would lean over and “click” on his chest.

  9. I use exaggeration too. I’ve got two little ones who fall into whining sometimes. When they do, I tell them we are going to start saying everything in a whiney voice, and then I join in. If they ask what’s for lunch, I respond with ‘Nooo, I don’t wanna make lunch.’ They get the point quickly and it brings a much lighter mood. If one of them is grumpy, I will say, ‘Oh, someone needs a hug.’ And start chasing them all over the house to give him one. Both boys always begin pretending to be angry, but they enjoy the game of chase so much they quickly forget why they were even upset. I will also grab them and pretend to look for the ‘happy’ button or the ‘smile’ button, etc., tickling while I look for the magic button. I ask them random questions too to distract them. Can you bite your ear? Can you lick your elbow? Did you drop your pocket? My guys are 3 and 5, so for now at least, these little things usually work.

  10. My husband is so good at this, diffusing a situation with humor or silliness. He is so over the top that they always laugh.

    I’m the serious one, I get very caught in making it all too serious and everyone miserable. He often has to remind me to lighten up as well. Good thing we have him. 🙂