When parents discipline with a light heart and a sense of humor, three important things happen: first, our feelings as parents can be managed in a positive and constructive way; second, we model for our children how to handle their emotions in an effective and constructive way; and third, we teach our children parenting skills to use when they have their own children. Sometimes it helps to remind ourselves that a child’s unacceptable behavior is short lived, but how we as parents respond to that behavior has lasting consequences.

Since we all strive for a peaceful, cheerful atmosphere at home—and less nagging and more laughing is more likely to get us there—here are some things to try:

  • At least once each day, make your child laugh out loud.
  • Sing together.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Wake up before your kids, so you can get organized before they get up.
  • Tell your kids what they can do. Frame your requests and answers as positives.
  • Create mini-celebrations.
  • Tell your child “no” only when it really matters.
  • Stay in touch with your sense of humor. Try saying, “If your coat is still lying on the floor in five minutes, I’m going to do the cha-cha!’”

The essence of discipline is to teach, and teaching can be playful. Parenting playfully restores connection when there is disconnection, which is often the core cause of behaviors needing correction. Playful parenting also does a better job of teaching your values and getting cooperation with family rules. Parenting with a light heart is both effective and rewarding.