Developing a Sense of Humor: Encouraging Playful Behavior While Discouraging Naughtiness
It's wonderful when our preschoolers begin developing a sense of humor but it can be a problem when their antics are rude.
Young children often engage in shocking behavior because (1) they may be getting a lot of attention for it, and/or (2) they may be developmental immature.
When we think about the development of young children, we must keep in mind that they are new people on the planet. They are exploring and learning about what is expected of them. Usually, they learn by trial and error, but it is to be hoped that a parent is teaching them right from wrong when it comes to outrageous antics.
Attention is also a big reason for children to engage in naughty behavior. Whatever children get attention for is what they will continue doing. In this article, we will share some helpful hints parents can use to encourage their children not to engage in potty words, naughty behavior or outrageous antics at home or in public.
- Don't reward naughty behavior. Don't smile or giggle at your sweet little 3-year-old when he uses potty words. If you do, you can bet he will do it again.
- Model the behavior you want. If your preschooler runs away from you, laughing with glee, in the middle of a crowded grocery store (which most parents have experienced to some degree), the important thing is to get the situation under control and remember that your child will learn a great deal by your example, so stay calm at all cost.
- Self-talk is a great tool for parents to use in an embarrassing and frustrating situation. Say in a calm voice something like, "I am going to gently pick you up by the shoulder, and we're going to leave the store." Of course, your child probably will continue to make a scene, but getting her to stop right then is not your goal. The goal is for you to stay calm as you remove your child from an attention-getting environment. Your voice tone, the words you say and your focus on the goal will help you stay calm so things won't go from bad to worse.
- Replacing a naughty behavior is an excellent way for parents to teach their children pro-social skills. When you notice your child acting out have him or her redo the situation using the appropriate social skill. Continue practicing at different times before naughty behavior occurs, and it will become more difficult for your child to engage in misbehavior.
- Reward what you want. Cheer and clap when your child shares an approved joke. Make a date to have time-in, reading the comics together or an age-appropriate joke book. When he or she doesn't use inappropriate words or actions, notice the absence of naughtiness by saying, "Wow, you kept on your clothes during our visit! What a big girl!"
Most of all, remember: Children are going to do different things - some good and some not so good - that are just part of being a kid. The real key is not what children will or will not do; it is what parents do in response.