Our daughter is 18 months old. When she does something that irritates or make me angry she laughs/get happy.

For instance, when I sit by the laptop she comes by and push buttons on it. First, I say calmly that she mustn't do that. Then I clearly shows that I'm angry with that when she continues.

This is true for many situations.

Are there any known solutions for this and from where those this behavior come from?

Background info: In general we let her do almost everything she wants. We are not authoritative at all and wants her to have her freedom as much as possible. I have tried to punish her by locking her in another room. She really dislike that and cries. I let her stay there for a minute most. But punishing someone you love doesn't feel like a good solution.

  • 2
    Sounds pretty normal for an 18mo. Locking in another room sounds extreme - having a "time out chair" works for us.
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 22, 2015 at 20:14
  • 1
    Welcome to Parenting.SE! My kids did something similar when young -- laugh and smile in an attempt to get "happy mommy" back, and/or smile because they were enjoying getting attention (even negative attention)
    – Acire
    Oct 22, 2015 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


Laughing is a stress response, and as such it's very common for children around 18 months and up (and up and up - even young adults) to laugh when they do something inappropriate that they know is inappropriate, because they're dealing with the stress that comes from that situation. It's not a sign your daughter is happy she's doing something to hurt you or bother you; simply a sign she doesn't know how to handle the situation.

Some of that stress may well come from her not knowing how you're going to handle the situation, if your approach has varied over time. While as parents we have to try different approaches from time to time as we learn what works, try to keep it as consistent as possible.

I definitely don't recommend locking your daughter in another room. That sounds the opposite of non-authoritarian to me; so if your general approach contradicts that, it's no surprise your daughter is highly confused when it happens.

Instead, the key to a non-authoritarian approach is never just saying no. You don't say "No, don't do that"; you say "Don't touch mommy's keyboard, honey, mommy's trying to work, and you're making that harder." Or "Dear, please leave my keyboard alone. Do you need some attention? Can you play over here for five more minutes - here, I'm setting the timer - while I finish the work I need to do, then I'll give you some attention?" Or similar. Explain the why, and also try to understand her why.

  • Stress is something someone feels bad about. If she was stressed it wouldn't make sense for her to repeat the behavior half a second I told her not to do it. Not after the fifth time either, and definitely not after I warned her about some unpleasant punishment (pointing to the bedroom). I never said that my daughter was highly confused either. I'm very clear about sending signals. And I also explain why she shouldn't do it as you wrote. And in same cases I even say, let me have another minute here and we'll play. So even if you're advice sounds sound I don't know from what I just wrote here.
    – MacProGirl
    Oct 23, 2015 at 0:28

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