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How To Keep Your Sense Of Humor When Parenting Kids Of All Ages

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Laughing mother and child outdoors

Children can expand your heart and push your buttons like no one else. Being able to laugh at what happens, at your reactions, and sometimes at life itself helps ease the journey.

Maintaining a sense of humor is particularly important when raising ADHD and non-ADHD kids. 

Everybody does things they’re proud of as a parent and things that they wish they hadn’t. Having compassion for yourself when you stumble enables you to giggle at your foibles without bombarding yourself with shame.

Self-blame or criticism of others often intensifies small incidents into full-blown explosions. Turning to humor in challenging situations reduces the chance of a meltdown and helps you recover from setbacks more easily.

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Manage parenting stress with humor

As a parent, you need to set a good example for your kids by using a tone that brings humor, boundaries, and self-expression to difficult situations. Raising ADHD kids comes with a unique set of challenges. Managing your emotions and expectations helps keep you calm while keeping life’s ups and downs in perspective.

Knowing how to laugh at yourself when you trip up really takes the edge off many challenging situations. Sometimes we get so caught up in the seriousness of parenting, that we forget the role humor plays in handling our own stress and creating a calm and pleasant atmosphere for the whole family.

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Reduce tension with levity

When you inject levity into challenging situations, you shift the conversation away from annoyance and aggravation. This requires some self-control and creativity but the rewards are plentiful. When you look at yourself and your reactions differently, you’ll take the first step toward diffusing tension.

You’re not only modeling this for your ADHD child as an effective coping tool, but you’ll also feel better and they will too.

For example, when kids speak to you in a disrespectful tone, you have a choice. You can angrily tell them “You’re not allowed to speak to me that way. Go to your room.” Or, you can say: “Fresh is for vegetables, not speaking to me like that.” The first option throws fuel on the fire; the second one dampens the flames. 

If your teenage son gets into your car, plugs in his phone, and listens to rap music that he knows you hate, you could tell him that he’s being selfish and entitled and unplug his phone. Or, you could learn some of the lyrics to his favorite songs and sing along. That will certainly change the dynamic in the car and likely make you both smile.

You’re managing your own reaction with humor and not responding negatively. 

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Humor as a way to (re)connect with your child

One of the toughest predicaments for any parent is the loss of connection with their child. Sometimes this is a natural extension of your teen’s growing independence. Other times bonds break as the result of divorce or other demands which decrease a parent’s presence in their child’s life.

Whether you and your child are drifting apart or are just finding it difficult to bond in the current phase of your relationship, humor is a wonderful tool with which to reconnect. 

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Lighten the mood

If you were to recall a happy memory from your own life, chances are it involved shared laughter about a funny incident or inside joke. As with your other relationships, look for opportunities to infuse humor into your relationship with your child.

Watch funny YouTube videos, tell corny Dad jokes or make up goofy song lyrics — it all lightens the mood and gets you to share good times together. Get your creative juices flowing and seek out any activity in which you and your child share an interest. If you can make it a regular occurrence, all the better.

If your child doesn’t seem interested at first, shrug it off and enjoy the activity on your own.

When your child sees you roaring with laughter watching TikTok videos or practicing new dance moves, they’ll likely get curious enough to see what you’re up to. Keep it going and chances are your connection with your child will grow with time.

Humor is an integral component of emotional well-being and social engagement. It lifts our spirits and offers a point of connection with others. Humor eases tense situations and relieves stress of all kinds.

Of course, there are difficult problems and situations where humor is not an appropriate response. But for day-to-day parenting challenges, maintaining a sense of humor goes a long way in bringing joy, calm and connection.

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Dr. Sharon Saline, Psy.D., is an international lecturer and workshop facilitator and has focused her work on ADHD, anxiety, learning differences and mental health challenges and their impact on school and family dynamics for more than 30 years. 

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This article was originally published at DrSharonSaline.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.