A sense of humor can brighten family life. You can blow raspberries
on a baby's belly, put on a silly hat and chase a 3-year-old, or pretend
to fall into a pile of leaves to amuse a first-grader. As kids grow
into preteens and teens, you can share puns and jokes as their sense of
what's funny grows more sophisticated.
Laughing together is a way to connect, and a good sense of humor also
can make kids smarter, healthier, and better able to cope with
We tend to think of humor as part of our genetic makeup, like blue
eyes or big feet. But a sense of humor actually is a learned quality
that can be developed in kids, not something they're born with.
What's So Funny Anyway?
Humor is what makes something funny; a sense of humor is the ability
to recognize it. Someone with a well-developed sense of humor has the
ability to recognize what's funny in others and can amuse them as well.
A good sense of humor is a tool that kids can rely on throughout life to help them:
- see things from many perspectives other than the most obvious
- be spontaneous
- grasp unconventional ideas or ways of thinking
- see beyond the surface of things
- enjoy and participate in the playful aspects of life
- not take themselves too seriously
Kids with a well-developed sense of humor are happier and more
optimistic, have higher self-esteem, and can handle differences (their
own and others') well. Kids who can appreciate and share humor are
better liked by their peers and more able to handle the adversities of
childhood - from moving to a new town, to teasing, to torment by
And a good sense of humor doesn't just help kids emotionally or
socially. Research has shown that people who laugh more are healthier -
they're less likely to be depressed and may even have an increased
resistance to illness or physical problems. They experience less stress;
have lower heart rates, pulses, and blood pressure; and have better
digestion. Laughter may even help humans better endure pain, and studies
have shown that it improves our immune function.
But most of all, a sense of humor is what makes life fun. Few pleasures rival yukking it up with your kids.