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Why Does My Child Laugh When Disciplined?

When you discipline your child for bad behavior, you want them to listen to you and hopefully not repeat the behavior that got them into trouble in the first place.

But, when they don’t respond the way you want, you may get frustrated and wonder what’s behind their surprising behavior, especially if your toddler laughs when disciplined.

If your child laughs when spanked or when you yell, you may feel like they’re not taking you seriously, but that may not entirely be the case. We’re going to take a look at some of the reasons why your toddler laughs when disciplined and what you can do to deal with the situation.

Is it normal for my child to laugh when disciplined? 

If your child laughs when disciplined you’re not alone. Psychologists will tell you that it’s pretty common. The reason behind the behavior may differ from child to child.

Reasons Why Your Children May Laugh When Disciplined

There are several reasons why your child laughs when you then are disciplined. Here are some possibilities:


Some children do it because they’re nervous and just don’t know how to handle their emotions. Remember, you are dealing with a small child, not an adult.

They’re experiencing so many new things around them that it can be difficult for them to process it all. They need to learn how to react to different situations.

Feeling Powerless

Other children may do it because they want to have some control over the situation and may feel powerless.


There are still others who do it because they’re worried or hurt over the situation and don’t want you to see it. Laughing is a way for them to cope. They need to learn other ways to cope instead of laughing when being disciplined.

It’s important to know that a giggle when you yell is not necessarily an indication of disrespect. Your child is learning about the world around them and needs to figure out how to react.

Don’t forget that how you react can play a big role in how they process situations like these going forward.

How to  Deal with a Child Who Laughs When Disciplined

There are a couple of routes to take to reduce your level of agitation when your child laughs when disciplined. Consider these options:

Explain the Bad Behavior

If you choose to spank or yell, your child may develop feelings of anger and fear. Explain to them why they can’t do what they’re doing. Be ready to repeat yourself a couple of times.

You can’t expect them to understand it the first time around. This requires patience. Be patient as you explain things to your toddler so that they can learn from their behavior.

Address the Laughing

Although your child may not mean to laugh out of disrespect, they need to know that people will perceive it that way. Explain that laughing when being disciplined is not something they should be doing.

You’re going to have to tell them a few times because as we mentioned toddlers don’t usually get it the first time around. But, after telling them a few times, they should hopefully begin to understand and change their behavior.

Set the Rules and Keep Them

As you explain bad behavior to your child, set rules about what they can and can’t do. Be sure to keep these rules so that your child understands there will be consequences if they’re broken. If you allow them to break a rule without any consequences, they’re never going to learn. 

Start Early

If you let bad behavior slide for too long, your child is going to think they can get away with it and won’t realize it’s bad at all. Intervene early to tell your child what’s right and what’s wrong. This will set the tone for them as they get older.

Express Positive Emotion

Small children may not understand that although they’re in trouble, you still love them. Hug them and tell them that you still love them although you may not be loving their behavior at the particular moment.

Don’t Lose Your Cool

As hard as it may be, don’t lose your cool if your child laughs when disciplined. Take a deep breath and deal with the situation in a positive way. Talk to your child in a calm voice to explain why their behavior is not acceptable. 

Notice the Effort

Your child’s behavior is not going to do a 180 overnight. But, if you notice they’re making progress, let them know you’re noticing their progress. When kids are praised for a job well done, they’re more likely to continue on that path. 

The Bottom Line

As you try to navigate through your toddler’s tantrums and behavior, remember, they’re likely not laughing when being disciplined to be disrespectful.

It can be a combination of things from trying to understand emotions to be worried about the situation. The important thing is knowing how to handle it all.

Try not to lose your cool and explain the bad behavior instead. It’s also a good idea to set rules and keep them so that your child knows there are consequences to their actions.

Noticing when your child is trying to correct their behavior and praising them will go a long way to getting them to stop laughing while they’re being disciplined.

Remember, there is a season for everything when it comes to kids. As kids grow, they also grow out of certain behaviors. Knowing how to deal with it all can make it better for everyone.