They say that laughter is the best medicine – it can easily lighten moods and lift up someone’s spirits. Laughing can be the best form of therapy, which is why having a good sense of humor often translates to emotional strength and resiliency. People who have a good sense of humor are also often the ones who find it easy to connect with other people.
Studies show that having a good sense of humor is not just a trait that’s nice to have – it is a very important "life skill" that provides many benefits for your child. Some of these benefits are higher emotional intelligence, increased optimism, better health, and higher self-esteem.
While there are some kids who have a naturally lighter disposition, sense of humor is something that is developed and learned. As parents, you have a huge influence over how this is developed especially since it is something that starts even as a baby. Here are some ways you can help:
1. Find out what makes your child laugh. As they say, different strokes for different folks. Even small babies who are just starting to smile, laugh, and giggle will differ in what they find amusing. A small child might find clowns funny while another child might just think they’re scary. Try various antics – make faces, make funny sounds, make up funny names for things, exaggerate your actions, deliberately make a mistake, drop things, play peek-a-boo, sing songs -- anything goes! As you find what makes your child laugh, you’ll have a better grasp of your child’s sense of humor. Take note also that this changes over time. What your child may find funny today may not even coax a giggle tomorrow.
2. Be silly and playful. Many times, as a parent, you’d have to find the kid in you. Being serious all the time will not draw out the silliness and playfulness of your child. Instead, learn to be silly and playful too! Keep your mood light and try to find something good and funny in situations. Not only will this help your child develop a more positive outlook in life, but it just might make yours lighter too.
3. Watch funny movies. Funny kids’ movies are excellent for exposing your child to various kinds of humor. Make sure to keep it appropriate for your kid’s age -- what may be funny for your 5-year-old may not be appreciated much by your 10-year-old. Younger, preschool-aged children will usually go for absurdity, surprise, slapstick, and exaggeration, while older kids can usually appreciate verbal humor, ingenious situations, jokes, puns, and riddles.
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4. Read funny books. While watching something can often elicit laughs more easily, do not neglect to also read funny books with your child! This practice will better encourage him to envision funny situations and analyze witty exchanges, allowing him not just to further develop his sense of humor, but also his imagination and creativity.
5. Share jokes and funny stories. We’ve all had our share of funny stories and jokes, either our own or heard from other people. Don’t be shy to share them with your children! Not only will these (hopefully) make your kids laugh; these will also show them the kind of humor you have.
6. Explain why something is funny. A lot of people shy away from explaining why something is funny simply because that often makes it less funny. However, some types of humor, like irony, will require a certain kind of thinking that your child may not easily grasp. Some situations or scenarios become funny because it expects you to know something already. Explaining why it is funny will help open up your child to that particular type of humor and, with a bit more exposure to it, will help him react humorously in a more spontaneous manner the next time around.
7. Laugh at yourself. Don’t be afraid to sometimes use self-deprecating humor to make your child laugh! It is okay to poke fun at yourself and be your child’s own stand-up comedian every once in a while. You don’t just get to elicit laughs, you also help your child learn that sometimes, it’s okay not to take himself too seriously.