Dr. Gayatri Bezboruah
‘‘So, your funny friend is going to be here? Good, we’re all going to have a great time,” “I love this movie because I can’t stop laughing till it ends, and I’ve already seen it five times,” “Ha, ha, he has a great collection of really funny jokes.” We always remember people who can make us giggle and laugh. A sense of humour and being funny can be very important skills for our children. Whether as children or when they grow up into adults, having a funny side has many benefits, as we all know. The important lesson for us parents to understand is that a sense of humour and being funny is a skill that can be developed. And contrary, to popular belief it is not something we have to be born with.
Children (or adults) who are funny are perceived to be friendlier and find themselves more at ease in social situations. They find it easier to make friends. Funny children also gain more confidence and learn to believe in themselves. Witty children (and adults) are also viewed by others as being confident and happy. When children learn to see the funny side of something, they improve their creativity. During tough situations, a sense of humour helps relieve stress and it also improves spontaneity.
As we parents can see, helping our children develop their sense of humour results in numerous benefits that are lifelong. By starting very early in their life, we can easily foster this behaviour. Let’s look at our children between the ages of 4 and 6 years (kindergarteners)
We need to laugh with our children. Often they may find something funny that we don’t. If it is not offensive, we should laugh along with them. It gives them the encouragement they need to try and be humorous.
At times we need to just act silly, be children ourselves. For example, walk with exaggerated gestures or waddle like a penguin or walk backward. Do a silly dance, and all those funny things they usually feel we will not do, or don’t know to do. Using things in a way they are not meant, like, putting a toy on our head as a hat will have them in a non-stop giggle.
Funny books with rhyming words, like the works of Dr. Seuss (Cat in the hat), will be very entertaining from the age of 3. When we are reading a book, there may be some funny or incongruous pictures in it. If our little ones comment on these, we need to discuss it with them and laugh with them. At this age, children will also try to point out funny situations by themselves. Encourage them when the humour is appropriate as it will increase their confidence.
Getting children to tell you a story themselves is a great way to create a funny situation. We need to start on something and tell them to give their ideas. They come up with stories funnier than the ones we think of, believe me!
Dr. Gayatri Bezboruah is Associate Professor of Paediatrics, Guwahati Medical College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com