A great new year’s resolution is to include more laughter; for kids laughing means learning. There are benefits for mind, body, and heart for all of us.
There are aspects of laughter that we are born with as part of our personalities, but a sense of humor is something that we develop. Besides needing a funny bone, we also need some specific brain connections.
In any situation, to find it humorous, the brain needs to recognize that something is unexpected or unintended. An ordinary action isn’t followed by a usual or predictable result. Very quickly, the brain has to decide if it’s hurtful or scary, or just unusual. The next step is figuring out how to react, like laughing or ducking for cover, squealing with delight or simply smiling. Getting all those steps coordinated is complicated. We can easily understand why kids often get the punch lines to jokes mixed up, find things funny that adults don’t, or don’t ‘get’ a joke. There’s a great deal to figure out. Humor builds on experiences.
Humor has a social context and gets passed along. Often, when one person laughs so will others. Sharing something humorous creates a link or bond between people. Kids laughing means learning and also connecting.
A few ways to include laughter in a day are to share jokes. Knock, knock jokes are fun and can go on and on. Making silly faces can happen almost anytime. Read some funny stories, or share any book and imagine a different outcome. Do something unexpected, like answering a banana when the phone rings or eating cereal with a baby spoon or putting on glasses upside down.
The number of times in a day children laugh is sometimes stated as 300-400 times. Even for those who find this to be great exaggerated, kids do laugh more often than adults. Did you know as grownups we only laugh 17.5 times a day? What’s happened to our sense of humor? Can you include more fun and laughter in each day?