Few things can reduce stress and brighten your mood as quickly as a good laugh. Children understand this, but on the road to adulthood we become much more serious.
One study has found that children laugh about 200 times per day, while adults may only laugh 15 times.
Helping your child develop a sense of humour has many positive benefits for both of you.
Children can learn to see things from different perspectives and develop creativity. Humour is a great literacy tool, as older children experiment with puns, playing with words, and weaving a good story. Social skills are developed and self-confidence gained when a child can make other people laugh.
For a parent, it is refreshing to take a break from your hectic schedule to laugh and be silly with your child. You can turn an ordinary chore into an adventure by letting go and having fun. Sharing funny family stories is a wonderful chance to bond.
Laughing comes naturally to small children, but their sense of humour develops as they grow. When you laugh or smile with your baby, she will respond with a laugh of her own.
Babies love bouncing or tickling rhymes, and will begin to anticipate the point in the rhyme when something exciting is about to happen.
Older babies and toddlers can see the humour in something being out of the ordinary. Watching a parent crawl around pretending to be a dog, or trying to fit a child’s shoe on a grown up foot can be very funny.
Preschoolers love to tell jokes. Most often, it is just an observation or a silly statement that makes no sense, but they are learning that saying something funny gets a response. Knock- knock jokes are great for this age group. Be prepared to hear the same joke over and over.
Potty humour and jokes about bodily functions are especially popular with preschoolers and young school age kids. It is important to set clear limits to draw the line between funny and inappropriate.
Whatever gets a laugh will likely be repeated, so you may need to resist the urge.
Children also need to understand that jokes that are hurtful to other people are not OK.
When a family is able to laugh together, children learn to appreciate the lighter side of life, parents have less stress and worry, and everyone has fun enjoying each other’s company.
Make time every day for a few good laughs!
Shawna Munro works at the Elspeth Reid Family Resource Centre, a facility of Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba that offers parenting information and support.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 7, 2012