Who Needs a Laugh? We All Do!
by Dr. Maureen O’Brien
Posted on Thursday, April 2, 2020
One of the joys of being a parent is watching your little one develop a sense of humor. From those first infectious baby giggles to silly toddler faces, laughing together is a gift and a great stress reliever! And it doesn’t take much time. In seconds, you can coax a belly laugh with a tickle. In one minute you can take turns telling knock-knock jokes. In five minutes you can draw outlines of your hands and turn them into wacky pictures.
Our children adore it when adults act unexpectedly goofy. Initially kid humor is very basic, as simple as making silly noises: I remember blowing raspberries at my infant twins and being rewarded with gales of laughter. (Then they did it, like they had invented the move.) Plus, little children have an envious ability to find the same thing amusing time and time again, and they will repeat a silly action over and over. They delight in showing off their funny bone to us adults, whom they want to impress more than anything else.
By the preschool years, children’s humor has stepped up a level to include word play. Dr. Seuss-like rhymes, riddles, and made-up words are enchanting to youngsters. They especially like to create their own silly jokes, which make NO sense to us, but are nonetheless hysterical to them.
I once recorded my twins when they were 3 or 4, whispering “secrets” in each other’s ears. (We were killing time while we were waiting for chocolate chip cookies to come out of the oven.) One child would lean over, cup his hand to his brother’s ear, and whisper importantly: “psss...psss....psss” and then add the key phrase “poopy-head”. Bursts of laughter ensued. Then his brother would return the favor and say “psss....psss....psss” pee-pee head” and they’d practically fall off the chair with laughter.
We should never lose sight of the healing power of laughter. By joining in and being silly ourselves, we are helping our kids discover that life shouldn’t always be so serious. Nowadays, it can be difficult to find space in our lives to laugh. But it is essential.