One of the awesome things about kids is their penchant for fun and silliness.
As a parent it makes me feel young again to muck around with my kids, telling silly jokes, making faces or doing crazy dances. It is a great bonding exercise too. I really enjoy being a “fun mum”.
Except when I don’t.
You know those times when you really aren’t in the mood for silliness and the kids kick off? You might be trying to get out the door in the morning or get them to brush their teeth before bed (all the while eagerly anticipating a glass of wine and an episode of your latest binge watch).
But they’ve got other ideas. They are making fart noises under their armpit or pulling funny faces in the mirror. They are most likely cracking themselves up and their siblings, if they have them.
You, however, are not in the mood.
It’s something I say to my kids a lot, or “We don’t have time for this.”
And you know what. Most of the times, my kids couldn’t give a damn.
They will either stare at me incredulously as if I’m the biggest killjoy in the world, or they will ignore me completely and carry on.
It is extremely frustrating, but here are some things you can try to tone down silly behaviour when it isn’t appropriate:
1. Identify why the silly behaviour is occurring.
Usually there is a trigger for silly behaviour that happens at a particular time. For us, at bedtime, it was my son’s “overload” from trying to control his ADHD and sensory needs. It could also be because they are trying to avoid something they are supposed to be doing or trying to get attention. Identify the trigger and then you can address the cause.
2. Give them a physical outlet.
I often tell my kids to “Jump the sillies out” if I need them to concentrate on something. They then get a few seconds of jumping and being silly to try to calm down so they can focus on what I need them too. Going outside for a jump on the trampoline or run around the yard is also a great outlet, as is belly breathing.
3. Teach them there is a time and a place.
This is particularly important if your family’s brand of silliness might be deemed inappropriate by others! Church or the doctor’s office might not be the best place to try out their latest fart jokes or yodelling repertoire.
4. Ignore it.
This is particularly effective if the trigger is a desire for attention. Rather than reinforcing the silliness with negative attention (i.e. telling them off), walking away from undesirable behaviour is often a quicker way to stop it.
5. Praise appropriate behaviour.
If they stop the silliness when you need them to, or if you make it through your normal routine without a bout of disruptive or silly behaviour, make sure you reinforce it with lots of positive praise.
Of course, it is still important to share lots of moments of silliness with your kids so try not to crack down too hard. Let your children remind you how fun it can be to let loose and be silly, when the time it right, of course!