I’m not sure why I remember this, but I have fond and fuzzy memories of my father playing games with me like “This little piggy went to the market”, “Round and round the garden” and so on. There is no way I was older than 4 at the time he played those games with me, but the feelings are perfectly intact and its no wonder I played those same games with my own kids.
You can play all kinds of games with kids that will make them laugh. When your kids are already in a great mood it’s not a heck of a challenge to get them laughing. But I also want to emphasize that games can take a bad mood and turn them into a good mood. A game can quickly take a mad toddler or child and turn the anger and frustration into laughter.
Here’s one game that I made up based on the concept of a pattern interrupt. Whenever my daughter starts crying over something that doesn’t justify the crying, I’ll pick her up and hold her upside down. I’ll playfully tell her that she can cry as much as she wants but she has to do it upside down. The first time I ever did this to her it was a spur of the moment idea. It worked really well. She couldn’t help but start laughing instead of whining and crying.
Ever since then I’ve used this same tactic over and over again. It has become anchored as a behavior that creates a positive mindset almost instantly. I don’t even need to lift her upside down anymore (but I often do because I like to make her laugh). I just have to ask her, “Honey, do you want to keep crying because I can lift you upside down so you can keep doing it”. I have to say it in the right tone of voice. It’s not a serious tone. It’s a playful tone. I tell you it works wonderfully.
I’m sure you can use this idea to create your own games to deal with child behavior issues. It’s a lot of fun to turn negative emotional states into positive ones.