Don’t Smile!

My Beloved and I found that one of the hardest things about disciplining our young children was staying serous when scolding them—especially when every instinct in our bodies and minds wanted to smile or burst out laughing.

For example, call us weird, but it was funny to us when one of the boys peed in the cat litter box—at least the first time he did it. (It got a LOT less funny when he kept doing it and then did it when we had guests over.) But we couldn’t laugh or it would spoil the lesson we needed to teach.

And sometimes, even when we couldn’t laugh, we did. I know; Bad Parents!

What made it even worse is when, for example, one of us attempted to keep a straight face while explaining to the child why they shouldn’t stick pudding in their sibling’s ear, while our dear spouse would cracked up with laughter.

We began to make up rules for each other:

“When I’m scolding a child, don’t smile, giggle, snicker, laugh, or guffaw, and for goodness sake if you are going to do those things please do it in another room, and if you won’t do that, please at least stand behind the kid and do it silently so they don’t see or hear you doing it!”

In our house, trying to enforce rules with our spouse tended to be more like making suggested guidelines. We are both wired in such a way that a demand or ultimatum is GUARRANTEED to produce the exact opposite effect of whatever the original demanded outcome was supposed to be. So we both learned it was MUCH better to request or negotiate rather than to make demands.

Anyway, back to disciplining the kids. They started getting wise to our ploy of being serious when they were facing us, while their other parent (the one standing behind them) did their best remain silent as they exploded with laughter. The kids started to quickly, and without warning, turn around to try to catch the parent behind them with anything other than a serious face.

Woe be to the parent who got caught!

Of course, as soon as the child turned their back on the parent who’d be standing in front of them, the roles would reverse and Ms. Smiley Pants had to be Ms. Serious, and then I could go from being Mr. Serious to Mr. Smiley Pants, or vice versa.

About russtowne

My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children. In addition to my family, friends, investing, and writing, my passions include reading, watching classic movies, experiencing waves crashing on rocky shores, hiking in ancient redwood forests, and the beauty of kindness and nature.
This entry was posted in Discipline & Consequences, Family "Fun", Humor, Parenting, True Stories I've Written and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Don’t Smile!

  1. mindfuldiary says:

    Thanx for a great tip. We are going through that stage now. The cute stage. 🙂 It’s difficult to keep our faces serious when our almost 4 year old says or does something so very funny but we can not laugh because we need to teach him better. Hahaa. will remember your tip. -best, Kristi

  2. russtowne says:

    Thank you for your kind comment, Kristi! I especially love the the fun of having 4 and 5 year olds. Those are two of my favorite ages. They certainly do come with challenges though–as children of all ages do. You strike me as someone who is more than up to the task–though it may not feel to you like you are sometimes. Kids can be a handful!


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