Language and Laughter

Week 1 – Laughter is the best medicine

Everyone loves a good belly-aching laugh. With the busyness and complexities of family life, it can seem to be a long time between laughs. The old adage ‘laughter is the best medicine’ rings true. Research has shown that people who have a good sense of humour and find the funny side to the situations life throws at them, are happier, healthier, have lower stress levels, are creative, flexible thinkers, and have strong peer relationships. Sounds like a great start for our kids. This month we are looking at ways to develop our children’s sense of humour. This week when life throws us a challenge or unexpected situation, pause, take a deep breath, and start to laugh. You may not feel the humour but expressing the laughter will help your brain to see the lighter side. You might find a creative solution or at least release some of the stress. Show your child that laughter really can be the best medicine.

Week 2 – Be silly. It’s ok to laugh at yourself

What made you laugh last week? Did you catch yourself reaching for a giggle instead of an angry word when your little person covered themselves in the glitter glue?  Or perhaps when you left the washing on the line and it rained? Children learn their sense of humour from us. They need permission not to take themselves too seriously, to laugh when things go wrong, knowing that their sense of humour will get them through adversity. This week, take some time to be silly. Do a crazy dance. Bring out your best ‘Tickle Monster’. Laugh out loud at a funny family movie. Reminisce over funny memories. Tell your family your own funny childhood experiences. Encourage your Little Person to use her loudest, longest, hardest laugh. Show him that adults have a sense of humour and it’s ok to laugh at ourselves. Have fun!

Week 3 – Get it?

What does your Little Person find funny? Does he roar with laughter over slapstick comedy or does she find great humour in bodily functions? Is he developing an appreciation for puns, riddles and word-play? As our Little Ones prepare for school, their sense of humour takes a leap forward. They understand that there is humour in words, word meanings, and the way we use words. Funny comments and observations can only be made and understood when our child understands the language of humour. Remembering that a shared sense of humour is an important skill for developing peer relationships, let’s help our Little People to ‘get the joke’. This week, round up your corny joke books or look for age appropriate jokes on the internet. Practise telling your child jokes and taking the time to explain why they are funny. Teach them the joke and get them to practise telling others in the family. Coach them on how to use timing and intonation to deliver the punchline. Let’s help our kids ‘get it’.

Week 4 – Is poo really funny?

Yes it is – to a preschooler! We need to remember that a child’s sense of humour develops as they mature. As your Little Person becomes more proficient with language – understanding the double meaning of words, recognising puns, applying language to new contexts – his capacity for understanding verbal humour develops. The older the child, the more reliant she becomes on using the language of humour to connect with her peers. It is important that we encourage our children to keep trying out their jokes and practising their humour. This will help them become confident communicators. Laugh at your Little Person’s jokes. Always. Laugh again and again at the same knock-knock and poo jokes. The phase will pass, and you will have a Little Person who is confident in his sense of humour. She may not make it to the comedy circuit, but she’ll have some skills to help her connect with her peers.

Written by,

Alison McDonald

Senior Speech Pathologist

Newcastle Speech Pathology