Use Humor While Teaching Children to Speak Respectfully

August 5, 2015


My daughter was 3.  I told her she could not do something at a particular moment; I do not remember what it was now.   She ran to the couch, buried her face into a side pillow and started to cry.  She then lifted her head up, still sobbing, and tried to mutter the most vile thing her three-year-old, innocent mind could come up with.  You could see the gears moving in her head as she got the words out:  “YOU . . . . BIG . . . . POOPY . . . . BUTTHEAD!”  I could not help but laugh hysterically. That made her even more angry.  She sunk her face back into the pillow and continued to cry.


This was a golden opportunity to teach my daughter how to control her feelings and thus, talk with an adult respectfully.  I went over to her, put my arm around her little shoulders and gave her a big hug.  I explained to her that it was OK to be angry and that I understood she wanted to do whatever it was at that time, but it was not the right time for whatever reason.  I explained that it was nothing personal, but we had other expectations of her at that time.


She expressed that her feelings were hurt when I laughed at her.  I was stuck for words at this point, so I resorted to humor.  It worked.  I told her I thought “poopy butthead” sounded funny, that they were just words not given in a nice tone and that I would not accept that tone or those kinds of words from her again.  I immediately asked her what a “poopy butthead” was anyway.  That brought a giggle from her.


I explained that we all get mad once in awhile, but we need to talk through our feelings to get along.  I told her that she can feel free to ask for what she wants, but if I feel it is not right for her at the time, she needed to trust that I had her best interests in mind– and that bottom line, she was the most important person in my life.


My daughter is almost 23 now.  Occasionally, when she thinks I am being stubborn, she will joke that I am being a “poopy butthead.”  In either case, we express our true feelings to each other to this day with respect.

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