Here is a perfect example of a final image I was able to get of my own daughter as a planned shoot in the bluebell woods.
My beautiful daughter was not happy to be photographed that day, we talked about the session before hand, she knew we were going to the wood and that after the mini shoot we could play, have a picnic etc. Once we got there her mood had changed and although she got dressed up, had her hair done (by me) before hand, she was just not in the mood. I bribed, begged and begged for her to smile but she refused and I realised then it really didn't matter if she smiled, I wanted an image of her and who she is and this image (that I absolutely love) is just a perfect representation of what she is like.
I should have realised sooner that most of the images I love of my family is when they are talking, playing and even sometimes, laughing with each other.
Here are my 5 tips to photographing our not so smiley children
Taka a walk
Don't go straight into a "photoshoot". Decide in advance where you want to take pictures and plan for it to be in the middle of your walk.
Play and interact
Make sure you have access to your camera but don't constantly take every picture of them playing, play with them, go looking for different colour leaves ( if you are heading to the park) or look for different shells/stones ( if you go to the beach)
I know we don't like to bribe our children if we can help it but sometimes a little encouragement and a treat at the end can work wonders when it comes to getting great images of your child. As I have 3 of them it works great to get them to interact with each other.
If the worse case happens and they start to have a major tantrum or meltdown, try to introduce something else, talk about the things around you, take the focus away from the camera and back to having fun.
Try and relax. If the session really is going terribly bad, take a break and try again another time, also keep the images you took, they are all precious and even the most grumpy images can end up being your favourite ones.