A sense of humour is a great resource for parents when you can remember you possess one. We found ourselves this week going through all the phrases we have regularly used in our family which make us all laugh. We have stolen them from our favourite movies down the years and looking back I can see that they became integrated bit by bit into the Overall Discipline Plan (which didn’t actually exist at the time, but I can see it now…)
The great thing about catchphrases from movies and tv programmes is that everybody gets the meaning immediately, and children seem to be very willing to listen to a fictional character – more than, say, their parents.
I was motivated to make a list of our favourites after buying the DVD of ‘Apollo 13’ to replace the video we used to own, and remembering how the phrase ‘Houston we have a problem’ was far more effective than ‘How many times do I have to tell you…’ when confronting unacceptable behaviour.
So here for your inspiration are a few of our family favourites from the world of popular entertainment:
When confronting unacceptable behaviour:
‘You are a sad strange little man and you have my pity. Farewell.’ (Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story)
‘Michael no! That’s not the REM way!’ (from an episode of the Simpsons in which REM appeared)
When encouraging the children to be nice to visitors:
‘Let’s give whatever it is up there a great big Andy’s room welcome!’ (Woody from Toy Story)
When refusing to carry a child on a walk:
‘Nonsense Michael of course you can walk! Spit spot!’ (Mary Poppins) (I think I made that one up)
When encouraging children to make more effort:
‘Let’s work this thing!’ (Mission control trying to get the astronauts back safely on Apollo 13)
Of course for full comic effect you have to work on the accents and inhabit the character fully and – as with all comedy – timing is crucial, but it’s worth the effort. A well-administered catch-phrase is a fair cop, end-of-discussion moment of shared understanding.
A shared sense of humour is a great thing to nurture in a family, it brings everyone together. I watch proudly as my children now use these catch-phrases to each other… and they still make us all laugh.