The Art of Parenting Silly Kids


(Guest post contributed by Kathy McClelland. Do you have a parenting moment to write about? Submit your own guest post here.)

Join in the silliness?

Out of frustration with my four-year-old’s persistent silly behavior I turned to a parenting book* for advice. I knew I was in trouble when I read, “If you are trying to discipline your child for pushing a friend try saying, ‘Don’t be a goober pusher!” The author stated that if you simply tell him not to push, you may not get much of a response.

Goober pusher?


Was this so-called parenting expert telling me to join in the silliness?

I was shocked.

How many times could I play along when he turned out the lights in the whole entire house, put on his PJs when I told him to get dressed for school, or glued a coloring page to his stomach and declared that it was a giant sticker. (Okay, that one was pretty funny.) But I was done dealing with silly responses to serious questions and answering his “Why did the chicken cross the road?” joke all day long.

Different times for different behavior

My son didn’t know when to be serious. Why would he choose that anyway? Silly is so much more fun. I tried to not tense up at the silliness until it started to get completely out of hand. I formed one-liners and recited them to him when the silliness did creep out-of-bounds:

“It’s okay to be silly, but not if you’re breaking a rule.”

“It’s never silly to lie.”

“It’s not a joke if you’re the only one laughing.”

As he started to understand the different times for different behavior, I began to learn the lesson God meant for me too. One day I heard myself tell him, “There’s a time for silly and a time for serious,” and I knew I needed to loosen up as mom. I needed to be more silly.

The more I learned about this age of development, the more convinced I became that silliness was maybe not such an all bad thing. At four kids love visual humor. When unexpected things happen it makes them laugh out loud. I had a four-year-old comedian on my hands. He loved making people laugh.

I needed to appreciate my child’s sense of humor. God was using his humor to keep me from being so serious all of the time. And boy did I need a good laugh from time-to-time.

My son’s younger brother was born with severe special needs earlier that year. I was wading through grief and searching for hope and joy in the midst of incredibly painful circumstances. The Lord was providing me with levity. It was up to me to  choose to be silly with my son and therefore, choose joy.

As grown-ups funny things happen in our lives far less frequently than our children. All of our responsibilities and worries of this life can choke out our joy. God still delights in you same as you delight in your preschooler, silly behavior and all.

The other day I caught myself giggling at him and I said, “You’re a silly boy.”

He responded. “I’m not a silly boy. I’m a cool boy!”

Could we be entering into a new phase?

*Your Four-Year-Old: Wild and Wonderful by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D, and Frances L. Ilg, M.D

Kathy McClelland is momma to two boys. Her second son was born with a rare (1 in 50,000 births) chromosomal disorder, which catapulted her into the world of special needs parent. She blogs at about finding beauty and hope in the midst of broken dreams. Her free time activities are few and far between, but when she can, she likes to cycle away stress, wander Target aimlessly, and camp out at coffee shops. She reads as a way to escape her world, as well as, find her way through it. She is learning that God makes all things beautiful in His time, even when life doesn’t turn out picture perfect. She is also a regular contributor to and has published on and

Photo credit: Ramzi Hashisho

Originally Published 11/6/2015

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