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When All Else Fails, Parent With Humor

Parenting works best with jokes, playfulness, and cooperation -- not threats and demands.

Playfulness, Not Parenting Power Plays continued...

Another example, Nelsen says, is a mother who pretended to be reading her child’s horoscope, which said that was the day he was going to stop procrastinating and do his chores. “You laugh, and then you see things differently; you feel differently, you act differently,” Nelsen says.

Finding the lighter side, she says, will serve adults and kids well in the long run. “I ask parents in workshops how they would feel if they had a boss or a spouse who told them ‘Do it!’ and told them exactly how to do it,” Nelsen says. “How long would you stay in that job? How long would you stay in that marriage?”

How do you learn to take a lighter touch? Try these tips from Nelsen.

Think about the long-term results of parenting

“We don’t want our kids to just be obedient,” Nelsen says. “We want them to do things because they feel capable, because they want to cooperate, because they understand.”

Respect your child.

“Kids have the ability to see things differently, feel differently … and parents need to do that, too.”

Parent positively

“Think positive, not just controlling vs. permissive. All these positive tools are about being kind, firm, and respectful,” Nelsen says. “All at the same time.”

Avoid teasing your child

“Any kind of humor that is hurtful or disrespectful or a poorly disguised put-down is no good,” Nelsen says. “You know the difference, and they know the difference.”

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Reviewed on October 17, 2013

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