Kids laugh a lot but not everything is funny for them. Watching them can teach us a lot about the complication required to understand humor. The younger the kids, the clumsier they are at telling jokes, and many of them do not think jokes are funny at all.
In the early years, kids laugh at things that do not seem funny at all to the adults. At the age of 6 or 7, kids discover humor when they start to understand the double meaning of words. Only at that stage, when their language develops enough, do they have the capacity to shift from one verbal meaning to the other.
This understanding is so important that they can never get to the punch line without it.
Humor has many benefits in children’s development, in the areas of academic success, social status, emotional growth and even health.
Intellectual benefits of humor
Humor is an intellectual game of language. Kids develop their sense of humor together with their language. This is the reason jokes and riddles appear at the end of Grade 1 or at the beginning of the second year of learning to read. During that stage, many kids need an “explanation” of why was it funny.
It is very important to distinguish between understanding a joke and telling a joke. Even with grown ups, understanding comes way before.
Understanding humor helps children increase their general knowledge. Research has also found a correlation between kids’ sense of humor and their creativity. Their ability to understand that there is more than one meaning to words and expressions helps them later on with problem solving.
Social benefits of humor
Kids understand very early that telling jokes is a great way to get attention. Straight after someone tells a joke, when everyone is laughing and happy, the kids try to tell a joke too.
Their first times seem funny because they try to retell the joke without understanding the double meaning, but this only highlights the connection between humor and the level of language sophistication and social experience.
In the same way that grown ups write “must have a sense of humor” in personal ads, humor is a factor in social status for kids. Kids who can tell jokes have been found to be more socially accepted.
They also found that kids using humor make others feel better with their problems and create an atmosphere that helps communication, an ability that makes others like them even more.
Emotional benefits of humor
A lot has been written about emotional intelligence. Handling feelings is one of the most important abilities in EI. People who can handle their feelings better have been found to be successful in most areas of their life.
In many researches on EQ, humor was found to be effective in handling emotions, establishing positive attitude and handling difficult situations.
Health benefits of humor
Kids laugh a lot. Most of the time when you look at kids, they are laughing. Laughter, humor and play are the most common expressions of joy and happiness that are major tools for kids.
Much research has been done on the contribution of laughter to people’s health. Humor was found to help with heart problems, breathing problems, high blood pressure, viruses and tumours.
Because the main problems of the modern world are linked with stress, laughter is one of the best solutions for good health. The younger the kids develop this ability, the better they can handle stress in life.
Tips for parents:
- Use humor at home around the dinner table
- Help kids understand double meaning
- Help your young kids practice telling jokes. Be patient with them. Eventually, they will succeed.
- Get joke books and riddle books from the library and read with them
- And the last thing, comedy movies are very helpful in developing a sense of humor. Watch comedy movies with your kids and make sure the humor is appropriate for their age. Many animated films are great because they have a funny character, no matter how serious the movie is, and this helps ease the tension
And all the recommendations here are good for kids, but they can do wonders for their tense parents, too ;) .