This morning my daughter woke up thinking it was Saturday and was disappointed to find out it wasn’t! Uh-oh, I thought, finding myself going into an inner dialogue of whether school was really the right choice and wishing it were the holidays.

Then a thought sprung to my mind. My daughter was wrapped in a rug on the sofa and I started telling her, “If you don’t get dressed soon, I’ll have to take you in this rug.

“And then the teacher will ask, ‘Is this a flying carpet? because no flying carpets are allowed in school.’

“Then you’ll say, ‘Abracadabra!’ and the rug will start flying in the sky with all your friends on it.

“And the teacher will say, ‘Come on down, it’s time to sit in the circle, no flying carpets are allowed in school!”

She was laughing a lot at this scenario and afterwards happily went to get dressed.

It’s so easy for us to get triggered by our child’s grumpiness, to go off into our own grumpy, despairing thoughts. Our own thoughts make our child’s mood much larger than it needs to be.

One of the things I like about telling stories is just how limitless our imagination is, how we can use it to conjure up stories and outlandish situations to make our children laugh, and diffuse the tension. Even after five years of using this laughter tool, I’m still amazed at how quickly it transforms things.

Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you can use the power of words to get laughter going with your kids.

Here are a few suggestions for inventing silly stories.

Have the children in the more powerful role.

In my story, the children have the power. They’re flying on a carpet while the teacher is frustrated and helpless, trying to get them to come back down. It’s so different to the norm where children often have their days dictated by adults feel that it helps to diffuse tension.

Include adults doing silly things that are quite out of character.

Children love it when adults start doing ridiculous things. So perhaps you make up a story where dad goes to the supermarket and ends up the moon instead, or mom starts building an airplane to take the kids to school. Or a doctor ends up baking a cake instead of checking the patients and then gives everyone cupcakes instead of medicine.

Tie the stories to the challenges you’re facing at the moment.

So if your child won’t clean their teeth, maybe you sit and tell them a story about a giant toothpaste tube that got delivered and when you squeezed it the whole living room filled up with toothpaste. Or if they are finding it hard to wind down to sleep, create stories about beds that won’t stay still and keep trying to fly out of the window on adventures, while you, the frustrated parent, try to make everything go smoothly again.

Take time to relax and laugh yourself.

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas, then take some time to nurture yourself and have a good giggle, whether it’s with a friend, listening partner or watching a comedy show. This helps us tap in and exercise our humor muscle so the jokes start flowing.

Originally posted on Kate Orson, Hand in Hand.