I’ve noticed sometimes when Bethel is in trouble, she starts to laugh. Sometimes, for example, she has laughed when I’m telling her that what she’s doing makes her mommy sad, and God sad.
This is somewhat disconcerting. My first reaction is irritation. It’s obviously rebellious behavior, right? I’ve responded somewhat harshly, “This is not funny. It’s called sin.” Usually she stops smiling and all ends well (except I don’t feel good about her laughing or my response).
The other day I asked her how she could stop being unhappy. She responded, “By laughing.”
Aha! I suspect that her response when she’s in trouble is the same response when she’s unhappy. She does not yet understand the connection between how she thinks and how she acts.
So I explained that laughing doesn’t make us happy or unselfish. I want her to understand how imortant it is to think right thoughts, but I also don’t want her to think that her actions matter not, either.
I’m still thinking on this, and whether I should bring it up again.
Could it be that her response is one of nervousness, or discomfort. It is not uncommon for children to have “inappropriate” emotional responses when they don’t know what they are feeling, or how to express it.
Yes, I think so, dear. She has an extra dose of emotion, whatever kind and for whatever reason. I’m just curious about it and wondering the best way to address it. Reprimanding her seems like the wrong response. Any thoughts?
I would ask her what she is thinking. Ask her if she feels bad because she has done something wrong. If you get the sense that the discomfort she is feeling is guilt then label it for her. Then tell her that often people feel sad when they have guilt. Ask her if she is afraid because she is in trouble, or worried that something (like discipline) might happen and if you sense fear or worry help her label and deal with those.
That’s a good approach. I’ll try it next time this comes up, Dear.