28 answers

Laughing It Off

what do you think about laughing an issue off. like if your child has done something and your trying to lighten the situation by making a joke out of it, particularly if their being really big brats. i would think it would be damaging to the seriousness of the situation but then im usually blamed for being too serious. what do you think?

What can I do next?

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It all depends on the situation. What did the kids do? Sometimes a good laugh is the best thing, but other times it just adds fuel to the fire.

1 mom found this helpful

Looove it! I do it often, especially if it is a situation that I would tend to overact with. Also, when they are being ridiculous brats or whiners. My kids usually know that I'm being sarcastic at those times and don't like it, so they stop. If it is a mistake that they have made, I tend to overreact when in hindsite, it's not that big of a deal, then I try to make a joke out of it, laugh it off, make a really silly face or noise. It lightens the situation, relieves any fears my child may have, reminds me that mistakes happen and the child is more important. Then, the explanation of how to avoid it next time is listened to carefully by my children. It helps a lot - especially when you are having a bad day. Laugh it off! My grandma used to say - well, I can laugh or I can cry. I choose to laugh.

I agree, this is a serious problem. Children who are never shown the consequences of their actions will grow up expecting Mr Policeman to treat them the same way that Mommy did. It's unfair on the child, letting them think they can get away with anything while they're young only to have to face the big bad world when they grow up.

However, I do also think it may have it's place (though not very often), because when my 12mo started learning to throw tantrums, flopping to the floor, throwing things I had given her and sometimes screaming a little, I had no idea what to do. So I would laugh at her, and then ignore her until she would be a good girl again. It only took three times or so for her to realize that she wanted my attention more than she wanted to get mad at me.

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I mean this in the most polite manner. I have read several requests from you these last two weeks. GIRL!!!....YOU THINK TOO MUCH!!!
Stop disecting everything to death. Go with that "Mommy instinct" that God gave you. Do what your heart and gut tell you. I, for what its worth, wouldnt let some "expert" tell me how to raise my child.
Listen to your Mom, Aunt, Grandmother, Mother-in-law, sister, etc, etc,.....
Dont make it so complicated. Your kiddo will pick up on it.
I have found that these ol' ladies in the family have advice and know-how that far exceeds any old man that wrote a book to make a buck. I wish you much luck and hope that you and your family thrive...

M. :)

P.S....and after all...they are kids...their pretty resiliant!!!

2 moms found this helpful

Pick your battles very carefully and use humor to your best advantage. You and your children need lots of laughter and fun in your lives, but you also do not want your kids to be brats. Make sure they know where their limits are. Your humor and laughter can help your children sort out what is important and what is just stuff. In parenting 3 children, I have found humor to be my most important asset, especially dealing with teens. I would have lost it so many times if I had not been able to see the humor in many of the situations I found myself in. Many times my husband and I would secretly laugh about the situations, but our kids never knew about us laughing, but it was an important release for us, so many times. I believe you are on to something very, very important, just know when to use it and when to get serious. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hey M.!
I think that it would probably make it seem ok to be brats & they'd keep doing it. I agree with what you said about it being damaging to the situation, but I guess it depends on what the situation is! I've got a 14 1/2 month old & I've noticed if I end up laughing at something he does that is naughty, he usually does it again. It's hard for him to understand why he would get in trouble the second time & not the first. I hope this makes sense!
Good Luck!
R.

1 mom found this helpful

Your request reminded me of an incident that happened with my 3 year old recently. We were sitting down to dinner and before we had a chance to pray, he started yelling "I have no food on my plate!" repeatedly.

You've got to know I'm usually the straight forward corrector of behavior, with a "now J. we need to pray and then we can eat," or some such response that might end with having to leave the table or other swift measures. (I'm the serious one of the parents)
But my husband was home and sitting with his jaw almost dropped because J. was yelling, "I have nooo food on my plate" etc. really being an insistant little brat. Before I knew it my husband took a spoon of broccoli and put it on his own plate, looked at J. and said "Well, I've got food on mine!" We were stunned, (my h. nevvver is unkind) The kids (and I'll admit I, ) burst into laughter, we were so surprised, and J.'s jaw dropped (I didn't know what J. would do it this point...what was going on in that little brain?) And you know? He started laughing too! He didn't want to be left out of the joke and knew that he was part of the family by laughing too. It just may be the first time he's laughed at himself.

He's never thrown a fit like that again. Nor does he seem to be damaged...he's smiling and not as jealous of our one year old right now.

Now I wouldn't make that a template for dealing with behavior, but I would agree with another that wrote that we should trust our instincts (I believe these are God given) and not look for formula responses. When we have the best interests of our children and family in mind and we are loving by nature sometimes it doesn't hurt to do the unexpected...You can only judge the situation & trust that God will help you discern what to do.

If everything is serious all the time, conflict really can escalate. Laughter although not always appropriate really can eleviate tension.

1 mom found this helpful

It all depends on the situation. What did the kids do? Sometimes a good laugh is the best thing, but other times it just adds fuel to the fire.

1 mom found this helpful

joking in front the of kids is undermining the discipline but i think joking to friends about it is necessary to keep things in perspective and to keep our sanity!

1 mom found this helpful

I believe you have to pick and choose your battles. Children learn through their mistakes as do adults. As parents, we are there for support, to help pick them back up when things go wrong. I believe we should guide our children in life, but understand that they are going to make mistakes and let them know it's okay to make mistakes. Love and laughter are the keys to a happy life. Showing your kids that it's okay to laugh when they've made a mistake is a good way to teach them not to beat themselves up about things, which will help them a lot in life. It shows them it's okay, we learned from it now lets move on.

Hi M., When I see parents laugh when their chidren are being brats, especially in public places or in social settings I attribute it to a type of nervous laughter because they don't know how to properly handle the situation. I wouldn't laugh at any behavior that I don't want repeated. Unless of course it was a legitimate accident & my child didn't mean to do something. For example when I was a kid my mom had all 3 of us at the grocery store & one of us accidently knocked down a huge display of Reynold's Wrap. At the moment it happened she was embarrassed but we all laughed about it at dinner. Now if we had done it on purpose, that would not have been a laughing matter. We would have been in trouble for being destructive. I'm sure my parents would have laughed later on about it, but not in front of us. There is a fine line we walk as parents between being too stern & too lax. We all have to find our appropriate balances for our own families.

Pick your battles VERY carefully or you will be at war all the time. A little humor can save a day. Two kids under five need boundaries and must follow rules- but those are also very little kids. They can not remember all the rules all the time-otherwise they would be adults-but as long as they are good on safety, manners-the really important stuff- then making light of a situation might not be a bad thing. As long as the joke isn't hateful or passive aggressive. Maybe a "joke" isn't the way- but using fun instead. I love the mom w/ the daughter and the ketchup- perfect way to handle something that is not a life threatening matter. There is a lot of laughing at my house - believe me-you'll need that sense of humor when those kids are teen agers- but when my kids were that age a simple loud "STOP" would have them freeze in their tracks. Make sure they obey INSTANTLY a few important commands-all the time- then laugh your way through the rest of the day. (And think- would you rather be treated with kindness and humor while you were learning something- or would you prefer to have someone correcting and yelling at you all day long?)

I think that there are times when you want to teach your child to laugh at themselves; however, in times of inappropriate behavior, I think laughing is not appropriate. I think the better approach is to either ignore them ( so as to not give them any attention for that kind of behavior) or approach it head on. Each child is different, so you have to know which way your child would respond best to. Good luck! B.

It is nice to "lighten up" a situation, especially when someone would otherwise feel very embarrassed about the situation.

You are asking what I think but I'm confused when you mention your 2 children, both under the age of 5, being "really big brats." At that age range, I have had to explain myself sometimes. Not all social skills are intuitive to everyone. With problems in the area of social skills with my three boys, I've done things like actually point out "look at me, I said that with a smile -- that means I wanted to get you to laugh (or just lighten up)." You might need to practice telling jokes and discussing what is a "good" joke and what is a "bad" joke (bad ones always make the other person uncomfortable or angry).

I would suggest, with your young ones, to avoid "laughing an issue off." This is a good time (in your children's lives) to explore feelings and what is an appropriate way to react. I am thinking of saying "hey, I know this sounds (seems?) (might feel?) serious, but I can't help but want to calm the tension in the room with something funny, like "I feel like I am being weighed down with all this 'seriousness' in the air and just want to you loosen up and not seem so tense; why don't we each think about this for 5 minutes (or however much time you choose) and then we can discuss this again, okay?"

You know your children best and you need to try to find out when you can suddenly interrupt the discussion with "oh my gosh, this situation (not the child him/herself) reminds me of my past experience and how I laughed about it afterwards".

Then again, those kids "being really big brats" could be told to "go draw a picture or write their side of the story down" for you to see or read. The ones whose response is "well then just forget it" are the brattiest ones and those who actually follow those instructions need to be heard out -- good time to use phrases like "what I hear you saying to me is ____, is that what you mean?"

Sorry that I'm being long-winded here. That's mostly because you didn't provided very many clues about what you wanted an opinion on. Maybe just stopping to write down your question already has you exploring what exactly it is you are trying to describe! Good luck!

I don't think laughing it off would be the correct way to handle the situation. But you should point out how annoying they are being. Example: I was babysitting my cousin then about 4 and she wanted a drink with her lunch. So she proceded to the refridgerator door after telling me she was thirsty. Standing at the door she began whining that she was t-h-i-r-s-t-y. Head back pittiful face and all. I looked at her like she was crazy and asked her " What are you doing", in a calm voice. She stoped looked around as if thinking what was she doing? I told her to go sit down I was at the refridgerator with her and I was getting her a drink right then. Now I know why she did this most likely because her mom ignored the fact that she needed something and the only way she got it was to persistantly whine over and over again her request. But she didn't do this with me again. If I would have laughed at her it would have hurt her feelings and only made matters worse.

i don't know what the situation is in particular but somethings you can't help but to laugh at. i do however believe that you should be more matter of fact than upset, serious, or making light of a serious issue. my three year old wrote all over the wall (thank God it was washable). i couldn't help but laugh because he was so happy and proud that he made a smiley face the size of himself on the wall. i grabbed a rag and soap and matter of factly i said honey i love your smiley face, it's awesome, but we are only allowed to write on paper...can you come ask me for paper next time and we can hang it on the wall and then you can draw on the paper. and we cleaned the wall together. i said if you write on the wall again i will have to take away your crayons and markers. he understood and the next day i came home with a big roll of paper and covered one wall in the bedroom. i reminded him that if we draw on something other than the paper the crayons and markers will get taken away. we played coloring and then i went to throw a load of laundry in and when i came back he had colored on the door. i said, without getting emotional in any way, hun you colored on the door and that isn't paper, i'm going to have to put the coloring stuff up for today and tomorrow. and i put the coloring stuff up for two days. he doesn't color on anything but paper anymore.

i think it's important to give them opportunity for growth and decision making and also to allow them to be responsible for their decisions without being too serious in any way. consistent consequences are important. being serious should come from their experience of knowing that there are positive and negative consequences to their decisions and that you are not going to budge on that. but you should always be able to love and laugh. don't be upset- they are learning- just enforce rules.

Sometimes, I'll just wait until we are away from the mix of the situation and then later explain why its not ok to do this or that. The next time my son does it, I'll ask him why that was not ok and he'll usually know and tell me. But, it keeps the yelling out of it and turns it into a teachable time. Hopefully that can help in a situation or two. I think each situation needs to be addressed as you see fit, but we tend to forget their little minds and how they work so differently from mine. And, yes, I have laughed at times when my son would tell me he got in trouble at school for different things (b/c kids are just funny), but later explain why he got in trouble.

I often lighten up admonishments for my 2 yr old. She doesn't understand lectures or my behavior going from calm to upset... which with a 2 yr old could happen throughout the day if I let myself react that way! Besides, I don't want to be a 'fly off the handle, make a big deal out of everything' kind of mom. How exhausting! You just end up battling power-struggles all day long. Besides, young kids are focused on having fun, so it makes more of a lasting impression if they have fun while learning acceptible be behavior.

It depends on the offense. Hitting deserves a serious response. Being a brat about washing hands (before dinner or after the potty) can be dealt with more lightly. For example, my reaction to her refusing to wash hands gets a loud "Ewwwweeeee! Thats yucky! You've got yuckers on your hands... Yucky hands, yucky hands, Jillian has yucky hands!" Or "Mama has yuckers on her hands too... Will you help me wash my hands?" Now, she likes to tell me when her hands "have yuckers" and need to be washed.

The other day, she decided to face paint herself at the dinner table with ketchup. I can tell you for sure that if I made a big deal out of it, she would be smearing ketchup on her face for the next 5 years! So we teased her about being/smelling like a hotdog and asking "where's my little girl?", looking for her under the table, etc. She was headed for the bathtub after dinner anyway and that reaction set us up for a much more relaxing bedtime routine. Otherwise, I would have been setting myself up for "who's in control" arguments with her to get in the bath, to wash hair, put on PJ's, brush teeth, etc.

Pick your battles...

Looove it! I do it often, especially if it is a situation that I would tend to overact with. Also, when they are being ridiculous brats or whiners. My kids usually know that I'm being sarcastic at those times and don't like it, so they stop. If it is a mistake that they have made, I tend to overreact when in hindsite, it's not that big of a deal, then I try to make a joke out of it, laugh it off, make a really silly face or noise. It lightens the situation, relieves any fears my child may have, reminds me that mistakes happen and the child is more important. Then, the explanation of how to avoid it next time is listened to carefully by my children. It helps a lot - especially when you are having a bad day. Laugh it off! My grandma used to say - well, I can laugh or I can cry. I choose to laugh.

Same here, too serious. My children didn't like anyone laughing an issue off when they were small and neither did/do I. I would take on the issue head on. Now that My older ones are 15 and 13 I wish I would have taken another approach. I decided that I needed more than 6 hours of sleep (when I was lucky) to take on that glorious responsibility of being a mom and at that a stay at home mom, plus have some "me" time, even if it meant to see a little TV, that is if I didn't knock out as soon as I hit the pillow. I am still quite serious but I have lighten up now that I am more rested. My youngest is now 6 and is a great boy and we rarely have problems with him like with our older ones. The difference is that with him instead of getting angry I stop and explain the offense and consequences in a firm yet not "I've had it" mentality. I have begun to go back to my younger days and realize that I have done some of what upsets me when they do it and remember that all they need is guidance, which is what I got when I was growing up.

Doing MOPS? It was a life saver for me.

Good luck.

Hi M.,

"Laughing it off" can be confusing to a child. When they are being brats and you laugh at it, in the child's mind that means it is ok to do it again. Those children will do it at the worst possible time and expect you to laugh it off. Let me give you an example. My little cousin said a bad word to my aunt. She laughed it off. It was truly funny to her. But when she was with her colleagues and a few clients, that child said that same bad word. My aunt was so embarrassed. My little cousin did not understand why she was getting spanked that time and not the prior time. So basically it boils down to if it is funny the first time, then it has to funny every other time after that. No matter where you are or who you are with.

In my experience with my son, it's a mistake to laugh at behavior that is inappropriate. There have been times he did something that caught me by surprise and my initial reaction was to laugh (and I did), but then he would keep repeating that action to keep me laughing (which was not okay). Now that he's 10, and if I tell him that something is not appropriate, he'll reason with me that how could it not be when I laughed the first time.

If your children are being "really big brats", my dear, that is NOT a laughing matter. You are the boss and sometimes you just have to be the mama. Believe me, other people will not just laugh off their behavior--they will talk about your lack of discipline. If it's just a kid thing--and they are funny--sure it's okay to laugh about it, but not about selfishness, or lying, or hatefulness, or disobedience (that's the real biggie); not addressing it only leads to more problems. Good luck! B. R, 62, mother of 5

I'm ok with laughing off an accident or one of those adorable toddler verbal bloopers. I do not laugh off deliberate inappropriate behavior. In that case, I could care less about lightening up the situation for anyone. If other adults are around and are uncomfortable, that's their problem. If the children are uncomfortable - good, they need to know the behavior was not acceptable.

Without knowing who is blaming you for being too serious, and why, there's no real way to determine whether you overreact to things. I would just take a long look at your responses to minor and major things and then look at the responses of the person(s) making the accusation. If you decide your reactions are correct, then you need to politely but firmly let the accuser know that they are out of line. If the person is your husband, you two need to talk to get on the same page with respect to discipline.

I do not like the laughing it off deal. If it hurts someone than it is not to be laughed off. This can make it seem that it alright to do what ever they did alright. The is not something that makes people happy and willing to have you around. This can also be very dangerous to others when this happens and not corrected when it happens to could really be bad the next time.

I have to agree with you! allthough I have to admit, that I too have been accused of being too serious on many an occaision! LOL! bad behavior of a child, I think needs to be addressed! not laughed at...ever! laugh in private if it hit your funny bone, but not in front of the child! Example, my newly adopted 6 yr old Yorkie ( yes I am aware that she is not a child) jumped up on my kitchen table one night after we had steak for dinner. there she was all 4 1/2 lbs of her, all four paws tanding in the middle of my table! Yes I thought it was hillarious! she only stands 8 inches off the ground! but i held my laughter, I yelled at her, and let her know that it was absolutely not tollerable, and the next day laughed hysterically with my husband as I told him what a naughty little girl we have adopted! the little stinker, but she doesn't know what we were laughing about a day later!

hi M.!
we, moms, should be consistent with our disciplining tactics. being serious on a matter is fine, as long as you don't carry the 'seriousness' even on other issues. after you have said your piece on an issue, try to be level headed so you won't get personally affected. it's really unfair to be blamed for the situation but it's too risky to raise brats these days, it won't do anybody good. God bless and good luck to you!

it is difficult to say since you really did not give enough detail as to what type of behavior was occurring. However, my rule of thumb has always been not to punish (or yell)for childhood behavior or mistakes that make a mess - just make them accountable for thier actions (ie: they spill or break something due to being careless - typical for a child - just make them clean-up or fix the mess to the best of their ability for their age bracket).
I saved punishment for purposeful rebellion and defiance. So - i think it is okay to laugh some things off - but you may still need to enforce being accountable for any behavior after you are done laughing. So i guess the bottom line is - where does it say in the rule book that we have to be mad or angry or stern while making a child be accountable. For example, a police officer will not yell at you or lecture you but will cheerfully write you a ticket for speeding and then tell you to "have a nice day".
dont know if this answered your question or not...but hope it helped.
About Me: a 54 yr old working mom of two grown kids; married 31 yrs.

There are teachable moments in children's lives - laughing about their bad behavior only teaches them that YOU think it's funny and it's okay to do it again. If you're talking about adults - different story, depends on the situation - if YOU've been wronged, then laughing it off may be a good thing, unless you harbor ill feelings toward the person who do did it. I've always found that honesty is the best policy and it also shows what your character is made of. I can't think of any question I child would ask that would warrant laughing it off either, if a child is coming to you for information, you need to give them truthful - AGE APPROPRIATE information. Laughing off an issue will only cause them to get their info from someone else.

If your child has committed a major infraction, no you should not laugh it off. Even on a minor infraction, laughing AT a behaviour you don't want to encourage is a bad idea.

However, you can't fight every battle with your kids.

So, if you're looking at a minor infraction, (e.g. daily bratty whining that drives you nuts, but might not be blatantly disrespectful) sometimes basically ignoring the behavior and modelling a different way to behave is a better way to stop your kids from being bratty than engaging with them on it.

In this case, doing something to make them be silly, start laughing and then playing with them is a great way to diffuse the whole situation and show them a better way to get what they want. You might call that 'laughing it off'... but it's actually a very strategic way to get them to stop being bratty in the long term.

I agree, this is a serious problem. Children who are never shown the consequences of their actions will grow up expecting Mr Policeman to treat them the same way that Mommy did. It's unfair on the child, letting them think they can get away with anything while they're young only to have to face the big bad world when they grow up.

However, I do also think it may have it's place (though not very often), because when my 12mo started learning to throw tantrums, flopping to the floor, throwing things I had given her and sometimes screaming a little, I had no idea what to do. So I would laugh at her, and then ignore her until she would be a good girl again. It only took three times or so for her to realize that she wanted my attention more than she wanted to get mad at me.

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