By Wilma Bedford
A sense of humour is not something one is born with, but it can be cultivated.
Cultivate humour in your child and help build a fully rounded personality and a happier adult. People who laugh are healthier, happier and optimistic, less depressed and loved by their peers.
A good sense of humour makes children cleverer, cultivates handling skills with regard to setbacks and challenges. Someone with a well-developed sense of humour has the ability to see what is funny in an incident and in a person. Humour helps them to see something from another person’s perspective, to be spontaneous, understand unconventional ways of thinking, enjoy participating in the playful aspects of life and not to take themselves too seriously. The child learns that by initiating humour he has a self-assertive social interactive position and that in this way he will receive acceptable attention and affection from others. Early development of a child’s humour optimises his social development.
Understand your child’s development stage:
Babies will react to tickling and pulling faces and when the parent makes funny noises or does something unexpected while dressing the child.
Toddlers appreciate physical humour such as peekaboo, rhymes, tickling and will try to amuse parents by putting on adults’ shoes.
Pre-school children find humour in impossible, unusual things like square wheels on a vehicle, an animal wearing sunglasses and the absurdity of a horse that whinnies.
The school-going child finds deviation from the normal funny, such as a clown walking on his hands, a basic play on words, exaggeration, riddles and puns, such as riddle-me-ree, the question-and-answer nonsense: Why does a giraffe have such a long neck? Because his feet smell.
Young adolescents’ humour is an indication of their own way of handling their sexuality and they use jokes to test cultural norms and acceptable behaviour and to ensure acceptance by a specific social group. Boys will from ten years of age give preference to physically violent and sexual jokes, while girls will tell verbally aggressive jokes, tease about boys and quote or imitate caricatures from soapies. Those who catch the joke are in, otherwise you will have no place in the group.
Set boundaries when it comes to bathroom humour or physical disabilities, don’t laugh at it and say why it isn’t funny. Guard against humour with adult content in front of your children. Specific things which children laugh at, is an indication of development issues which they struggle with, for example the toddler who struggles with potty training will use bathroom humour.
Create a humour-rich environment, for example picture books and books with rhymes to read together. Watch TV programmes together, play games that require you to be funny, for example to be a monkey, of paint faces. Peekaboo games provide entertainment from baby stage and hide-and-seek followed by a tickling session is a boundless source of fun for the older child.
Change chores into a game, for example to pick up toys and make a noise with each toy – they will help rather than argue.
Be a humour model. Tell jokes, have a good laugh and make a joke of trivialities and small accidents such as spilling cooldrink or your own awkwardness, like falling over your own feet. Laugh together and in this way create a bond with your child.
Appreciate your child’s effort to be humorous, for example his drawing of a pet, and laugh with him. When you react to your child’s humour, he learns that he also has the ability to make others laugh and make them happy.
By developing your child’s sense of humour, you equip him with important handling and social skills, create the ability to build friendships and to assert himself.
Developing a Sense of Humour in Your Child.
Encouraging Your Child’s Sense of Humor
Gavin, Mary L. https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/child-humor.html