Toddler Laughs When Disciplined – 6 Useful Tips

A boy sitting and laughing

Every parent has to discipline their child once in a while. This is how our children learn what is good and bad behavior. But what happens when your toddler laughs when disciplined? This reaction can be frustrating especially when you’re feeling mad at him or her for doing something naughty.

Toddlers have a mind of their own when it comes to pushing the limits and chuckling at your attempt to discipline them may seem like they’re being disrespectful. However, laughing when being reprimanded is often a nervous response to an angry parent.

Fatherhood is teaching me a lot about how to manage my nearly three-year-old daughter even when I need to discipline her. Read on to find out what works for parents who deal with toddlers who laugh or grin while being ticked off for bad behavior.

How to Handle a Child that Laughs When You Discipline Him or Her

Handling a laughing child while you’re disciplining them takes a lot of restraint and understanding on your behalf. It’s essential to remember your little one is not being disrespectful but instead, feeling confused by the uncomfortable emotions he’s feeling.

Even adults are known to start giggling when facing a stressful situation so why should it be any different for your child? Your toddler’s laughter, giggles, or huge grin while you’re reprimanding him, maybe the only way he knows how to communicate his discomfort at that moment. He could also be trying to save face!

It’s at these times when you need to remain calm and collected. Resorting to shouting or even hitting your child is only going to increase his anxiety. Instead, showing firmness and consistency is essential if you want your child to understand he’s done something wrong.

Laughing While Being Corrected Doesn’t Mean Your Child is a Sociopath

Parents become stressed when dealing with a toddler who laughs whenever being disciplined. Besides thinking their once-cute little angel is now becoming a disrespectful brat, they begin to worry if they’ve got a sociopath on their hands!

Laughing while being corrected doesn’t mean your child is turning into a sociopath. In most cases, your child is feeling nervous and his only response is to chuckle! This can be disturbing but remaining consistent, firm, and compassionate while correcting your toddler is vital.

How to Handle a Child that Laughs When You Discipline Him or Her

Dealing with my own daughter has shown me that our young children react in different ways to emotional situations. Here are some tips for handling your own toddler when he or she starts to giggle the next time you discipline him for bad behavior.

Don’t Lose Your Temper

Rule No.1! Don’t lose your temper no matter how infuriating it is to see your child with a large grin on their face while you’re disciplining him or her. You’re the adult here and losing your cool is only going to make your child even more anxious. When you know your child is laughing because he’s feeling nervous or trying to save face, you can find alternative ways to reprimand your child. I could stop here now and say Rule No 2 – Go back to Rule No. 1, however, there are other tactics, too to try out.

Don’t Use Spanking and Yelling for Discipline

Research from 2016 highlights that spanking toddlers as a form of discipline can result in aggressive and antisocial children. Both spanking and yelling at your child can also negatively impact their mental health development. Corporal punishment will only increase the anger and fear in your child while yelling is not conducive for them understanding what they’ve done wrong.

Try To Understand Why Your Child is Laughing When Being Disciplined

Stand in your child’s shoes and tune into what is driving his or her need to laugh when being disciplined. Understanding your toddler’s reaction to being reprimanded will help you to find alternative ways of disciplining him without causing your child to become too anxious or fearful.

Time-out while explaining to your toddler why you’re enforcing this type of discipline will help your child understand what he or she is doing wrong.

Explain to Your Child in the Best Way That It’s Disrespectful to Laugh When They’re Being Scolded

Find ways to explain to your child that laughing while being scolded is disrespectful. While your two-year-old didn’t intend to be disrespectful, your kid needs to know that others may perceive the behavior as such.

Sitting your child down when he or she starts laughing and talking with your child in a gentle but firm way will help him or her understand that such a reaction is not correct. With toddlers, you may need to explain a few times before they fully grasp that laughing is not acceptable during disciplining.

You can use loving words and physical touch to show them that they’re safe while you’re having a serious conversation with them.

Try Positive Reinforcement When Disciplining Your Child

Encourage your toddler to behave better by using positive reinforcement when disciplining them. Instead of focusing on what your toddler has done wrong, bring his attention to what he has done right. The more your child can associate pleasure with good behavior, the more he’ll want to please you by doing the right thing.

This method empowers your child to choose between what is right and wrong and to make the best decision for his own good.

Therapy Could Help You Find the Answer to Why Your Child Laughs When Being Disciplined

If none of the above tips help to manage your child’s laughing when being disciplined, seeking therapy may be the answer. An expert in child behavior is trained to identify and work with children and their emotional needs.

Getting an objective opinion and support could help your child to unpack the underlying issues which trigger laughter whenever they feel insecure in a disciplinary situation.

How to Deal with Children of Different Ages that Laugh When You Discipline Them

Dealing with a toddler who laughs when being disciplined is different from managing older children who respond in this manner. Older children are more self-aware and a hyper-sensitive child may translate discipline as a personal attack on their own abilities. This results in your child resorting to laughter as a defense mechanism.

Your role as a parent is to understand what is going on with your kid, whether he’s six years old or a teenager. Using positive reinforcement, setting clear expectations, and understanding that laughter is often a nervous response to an emotional situation will help you deal with your child when disciplining them.

Depending on the age of your child you can choose to:

  • Ignore the laughter: Talk to your child when the situation has calmed down and explain to him or her that such behavior is not acceptable when you’re being serious.
  • Mirror his behavior: Ask your child if he or she is feeling uncomfortable. By verbalizing how he feels while being scolded you’ll be able to respond using the right discipline tactics.
  • Be consistent with set rules: When your child clearly knows the rules, you can implement the consequences when he or she breaks any rule. This avoids the confusion which could result in laughter.

Children, at any age, respond positively to consistency and research is proving this. Being a grace-based parent may also help you to raise children using Christian principles to guide you.

Final Thoughts

Dealing with a toddler that laughs when being disciplined requires empathy rather than anger. If you choose to view his laughter as defiant behavior, your reaction is going to be one of frustration. This could lead to shouting and yelling which is not conducive to your child’s healthy development.

However, if you come from a place of understanding and compassion, you can use wisdom to teach your child, no matter how young or old, what is appropriate behavior during serious situations. This way you can empower your child to grow into emotionally balanced people.

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