When any of my children are displaying an angry or “grumpy” attitude, I ask them where their cheerful heart smile is. I grew up hearing, “Don’t smile,” in order to get us to smile, but I don’t want to teach my children to disobey me, so I changed it to “Where’s your smile?”
Frowning and being angry is a choice we make, and so is having a cheerful heart, and smiling. In order for my children to smile, they have to change their attitude. A fake smile is pretty obvious. And there have been times when I have gotten a tongue stuck out at me instead, which indicates the need for discipline! Usually, just asking them for their smile is enough. But, if they resist, then we use discipline and try again. The heart attitude is really what I am after.
This is a great help with two year-olds. With Laura, I get her to smile, and then I have her say, “Yes, Ma’am,” about whatever it is I was telling her. She usually obeys cheerfully after this conversation.
I also make an effort to smile (not a silly smile), and speak kindly to my children, even when I have to correct them. They are less likely to resist correction when my attitude is right (“A soft answer turns away wrath” Proverbs 15:1). Many times I fail at this, but God is helping me to grow in this area.
If you try this, be sure not to tickle your child or make funny faces to get them to smile. The smile needs to come from a changed heart attitude.