How Kidding Around Can Discipline Your Kids

Be Shockingly Silly

Doing something that contradicts what toddlers and preschoolers know to be true cracks them up because they're just figuring out how the world works. When you turn the familiar on its head, toddlers revel in the fact that they're in on the joke.

For example: Amy Hunter, of Mobile, Alabama, and mother to Henry and Lukas, both 2, says there is one thing that amuses the twins without fail: objects other than a hat placed on the head. "They were screaming because they didn't want to be in their car seats. I decided to ignore them and calmly handed them each a book to read, put in a Mozart CD, and drove off. Soon there was silence, followed by giggles. I congratulated myself on my fine parenting, but when I peeked back, Luke had put the book on his head. Now, when we have meltdowns at dinner, the whole family will eat with napkins on our heads." Hunter adds that she will crawl very slowly up the stairs, as if she's a baby, to get the boys to follow her to the bath.

My friend Carol O'Reilly says she can only get her daughter Noula, 3, to rinse her hair in the bathtub by pretending the cup of water is coffee. "Noula will take the cup and say 'Here's your coffee, Mom,' and I spill it over her head and she laughs hysterically," O'Reilly says.

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