Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Big Story: How to raise a fun and funny child

 funny child
 funny child

Developmental experts who've studied humor say a childhood filled with laughter and fun has benefit that last a lifetime. "A sense of humor offer a huge benifits in life,"  Lawrence J. Cohen, author of Playful Parenting and a psychologist specializing in children's play. "It's one of the best ways people have figured out to cope with things that are difficult." A child who can easily tap his funny bone is more likely to make strong friendships, be well-liked by peers, and as an adult get along with colleagues at work, manage frustration, diffuse conflict, and suffer less from depression. A sense of humor is also linked to intelligence, self-esteem, creativity, and problem solving.

What's more, humor offers parents rare insight into their children cognitive development. As humor expert Paul McGhee points out, humor is a form of intellectual play. In infants, laughter is initially stimulated by physical play (tickling, raspberries, and very gentle rough-and-tumble). But as early as 6 or 7 months, when babies start to gain a clearer sense of their world and how it works, they begin taking pleasure in seeing that known world turned on its head — the very essence of humor.

When your child "gets the joke," it's a sign that he's developing significant intellectual skills. So celebrate when your infant gurgles with glee over a game of peekaboo, your 2-year-old titter madly when you sing "Mary Had a Little Lamb" in a Tweety Bird voice, your preschooler giggles wildly when you hold a shoe to your ear and say, "Hello?", or your 8-year-old pulls off his first pun.

Parents who laugh often and easily with their children understand that humor is an invaluable parenting tool, one that can be used to discipline without conflict. Moms and dads accustomed to yukking it up with their children also find it's a way to stay close.

The best part? Play and laughter, the foundations of humor, are part of our genetic makeup and preceded human language. Robert R. Provine, author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation and a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, says the "ha-ha" sound of laughter evolved from the sound we make in physical childhood play — the panting sound of our breathing when engaged in, say, tickling and rough-and-tumble activities.

The key, say Provine is that a baby's earliest laughter, and most humor that follows in childhood and into adulthood, is an elemental form of social bonding. It could be said that humor, a more sophisticated means to evoke giggles and guffaws, is a way to re-create that unadulterated joy of childhood laughter when we're completely engaged with another person.

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