by Kelley Jilek
Research says that children laugh 200-400 times a day. A 35-year-old laughs a mere 15-18 times a day. Sad, isn’t it? Why did we stop laughing? Laughter is important! A sense of humor can help us connect with others and make everyday stresses easier to handle. Laughing simply feels good, but it also is good for your health. Laughter releases endorphins – your body’s pain-killing, feel-good chemicals.
Humor also offers social benefits. When those around us are optimistic and happy, we are more comfortable. The feeling is contagious. Humor increases a person’s likability. It’s easy to enjoy spending time with a person who makes you laugh.
Children aren’t born with a sense of humor, but a baby will giggle during a game of peek-a-boo. It will take a bit more effort to amuse a 10-year-old. You can help your child develop and maintain a healthy sense of humor. Encourage humor by telling jokes, watching funny movies, reciting silly rhymes, or playing dress-up together. Remember to smile and laugh around your children frequently. Consider the following ideas as well:
- Hula hoops – Bring out the classic toy and give it a try again. Bet you can’t keep a straight face!
- Hand shadows – How many hand-shadow creatures can you and your child make on a wall in the shadow of a light? Maybe you can come up with a new, never before seen creature of your own!
- Tongue twisters – Search the Internet for a host of tongue twister databases. Besides the classic “How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood,” you’ll find new, fun lines, too!
- Made-up words – Have your child group letters together randomly by writing them or by using a computer, alphabet blocks, or alphabet magnets. Sound out the letters to pronounce the words your child invents. Hilarious fun!
- Play “What if” – If your child is a bit older, discuss different scenarios. What if we grew leaves on our head instead of hair? What if our house was underground? What if we had to walk on all fours?
Children who can laugh and smile grow into adults with a healthy sense of humor, capable of successfully and happily managing everyday life. Take a few moments to humor your child each day. It will benefit both of you!