For Parents—How Will You Respond?

One day while playing outside Max hears his mother call him from inside the house.  Little rivers of sweat streaming down the sides of his red face, he bursts into the kitchen while his mother’s back is turned.  Mom slowly turns around in time to see Max exiting the kitchen, large puddles of water and mud trailing behind him.  At this point mom has several choices.  She can shriek, “Max, stop!  Turn right around and march yourself back outside.”  Or, she can call out, “Max, wait a minute,” and run for the camera to snap a candid photo.  Or, she can throw her head back and laugh while leisurely helping Max to wipe up the kitchen floor.  The last two responses help Max develop a sense of humor while mom manages her stress.  In addition, Max engages in teamwork and helps take responsibility for his mess.

Suzie is famous for talking with her mouth full at meal-time.  Dad frequently admonishes her to take smaller bites and wait to speak until her mouth is empty.  He notices occasional improvement, but it seems like an uphill battle.  More often than not, Suzie continues to talk while eating and chokes on swigs of drink that even an adult could not swallow.  Eventually dad gets desperate.  One night while eating dinner, he gulps down his drink and fills his mouth with unbelievable quantities of food?  Sputtering as he speaks, dad’s behavior strikes even little Suzie as obnoxious.  It doesn’t take long for the object lesson to reach its mark, as Suzie breaks up into fits of laughter.

A parent who is adept at turning a phrase, creating a game, or laughing at the absurd will endear their children to themselves forever.  A parent who is critical and too serious will foster these same traits in their children.  Life is serious business and our children are painfully aware of this fact.  From stranger danger, to “just say no,” to “stop, look and listen,” our children are inundated daily with messages of safety and caution.  Add a hectic lifestyle to academic pressure and you are left with a child assailed by the realities of life on every side.  The perfect antidotes for such a condition are humor, playfulness and just plain fun.  Not only will your children benefit from such an approach, but you will benefit as well.

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