Bizarre Parenting Strategies That Just Might Work

My main philosophy for dealing with children and teens is this:

So far it’s worked.

In the classroom and out.

I’ve told teens that I teach, “If you do that one more time, I’m going to photocopy my face 29 times.” This causes a moment of silence, before one of them challenges me to do it.

Why do you think Robin Williams hopped on a desk to recite poetry? (Besides the fact that it was in the script of Dead Poet’s Society). That’s right, Professor John Keating acted more strangely than his private school students because it got their attention. And maybe taught them a life lesson about perspective. Or balance.


This works for my children too.

When Vivian and William argue in the backseat of the minivan, I turn off the radio and start singing O Canada in my best-worst Leonard Cohen voice. They stop. So does traffic if my windows are rolled down.

I also have been known to become an asthmatic Donald Duck, sneezing several times—like the ancient archetypal Disney character with a speech impediment—to get kids’ attention.

This isn’t in any parenting books.


All right.
Don’t leave me alone here or I’m going to have to hop on my desk.

Tell me about a time when you’ve acted strangely in order to get attention.


  1. says

    That does it Leanne, I am going to follow you around and just watch all of this hilarity unfold!
    (wait… that sounds creepy)

    I love this tip. I am restricted by policies and guidelines enough while I work that I’m pretty abnormal the rest of the time. Normalcy is overrated.

    We might be related.

    Loved the post Leanne!

  2. says

    Spoken as a true Junior High teacher :) The only way to survive is to out-strange them! As you know, I’m an extremely normal music teacher. Nothing unusual in my classes. Nope. BTW no taking pictures this Saturday in class. Not that there will be any reason to think of doing that of course 😉

      • says

        I have seen your jokes. Just watching you attempt to tell a joke would leave the robber laughing! :-) And there would be time for the police to arrive on scene to make the arrest.

        Notice, we did not make any assumptions about the robber’s gender. We are teachers.

  3. Heather says

    It’s hard to say as my kids tell me more then once that I act strange. Thought if they are not lisoning to me I uselly just my finger and the stop and look at me. For the kids I babysit I uselly yell “don’t even think about it” and they stop look at me like I’m crazy or something.

  4. says

    How’s this? “Gramma’s going to pee in the potty . Oh gramma’s good. Gramma’s going to give herself a smartie . Even though mommy is against reward systems. Crazy mommy. She’d still be in diapers if it weren’t for those chocolatey little bits of goodness. “

  5. says

    When my 2 & 4 year old kids are whiney, I start singing everything to them. They hate it and beg for me to stop. Usually by the time I stop, they’ve forgotten what they were whining about in the first place. Farting also distracts them.

  6. says

    Your parenting/teaching strategy is similar to mine! I like to shake things up, just to keep them listening. :) This morning when I dropped the kids off at school instead of saying “Have a great day!” I said, “Love you! Go kill some zombies for me!” That got me a double take AND a huge smile. :)

    I’ve found random dancing in public places really annoys my older children, so I like to threaten with that when they get out of hand.

  7. says

    I know I’ve embarassed my kids more than once when they were growing up. But the best was when I was giving a voice to my granddaughter’s doll … and occasionally burping loudly. She laughed hysterically while Mommy, I’m sure, was cringing up front. :-) Leave them laughing, Leanne. It’s what they’ll remember.

  8. says

    I love this and so relate. I often act strangely though my two year old just doesn’t realize not all moms are like this so he just goes with it. I often mimic a goofy whiny bear if he’s starting to sulk or pout. I find funny voices work for a lot things. I’ll have to try Leonard next.

  9. says

    I love this! I do the singing too, but I don’t sing songs, I sing every word that I would normally say. to any random tune that pops into my head. I also take thins to absurd degrees – “No.”
    “Because if we do that, X happens, and if X happens, Y happens, and Y always triggers Z. . . ,” and I circle it around to us eating crickets or matchbox car bumpers for dinner for a week, or something equally bizarre.
    This triggers so much contemplation of my argument that his come to an end.

  10. says

    Until reading this post, I had completely buried the following memory from own painfully awkward adolescence:

    I was at the mall with my mum, which was, as it can only be to girl of 12, mortifying. I was being snotty to her and trying to ease away so that people wouldn’t think we were actually together but she was wise to my plan. (And, she later confided, she was hurt and a bit humilated by my actions) and so…

    She let me wander off by several dozen triumphant feet before she began calling my name. LOUDLY. And limping. And bumping into strangers who scattered and then cast their glances around in alarm, looking for “ELIZABETH!”


    A Shakespearian actress in her youth, my mother pulled this off perfectly and within minutes, the scattered strangers were instead gathering close to help her, easing her down to a bench, where she continued to wail.

    Defeated, I slunk over and tried to ease her to her feet, while the crowd around me tsk’d and muttered. What kind of daughter leaves her defenseless mother to wander the mall? For shame.

    “Mum, I’m sorry, ok? I’m SORRY!”

    Just like that, her spine straightened, her dazed and confused look vanished and she flashed the crowd a glorious smile. “Thank you all for your help. I think my daughter has learned her lesson – I am not nearly as embarrassing as I CAN be.”

    People clapped.

  11. says

    Oh my goodness, I so relate to this! I love being crazy around my kids–which has included opera singing, Michael Jackson dancing, and threats to load such videos onto my child’s Facebook page. 😉 Love your stuff, Leanne!

  12. says

    Oh my god, yes. You need to write a book about THIS, your parenting style. You nailed it.
    Though… you may struggle… at some point (maybe the teenage years?) when they will likely push you into a negligible category that requires no respect, as in, that mom.
    Enjoy the 7s, 8s, 9s, and maybe even the 10s, before you’re dismissed.

  13. says

    Well for me,” father want to be” i am probly going to be more down to earth about it. ” He ! you don’t want to do it ! Live in it ! But i am not ! Now d’ont worry, i am still going to raise him or her in parenthood love. I am refering of the impact of is choices on him and other’s, physical world and in the mind world. But reading this, it would be a good ” complamentary strategies for her “. HHaa! can’t wait to have my ” Family kit “.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *