4 Ways Parents Can Raise Funny Kids With A Sense Of Humor – Fatherly | Wonder Mind Kids

Children say the craziest things. They also tell the worst jokes. Not always, of course, but it can take a while for them to develop a healthy sense of humor. It’s not their fault because finding the funny can sometimes require abstract thinking. This doesn’t happen seriously before ages 11 to 16, at least according to developmental psychologist Jean Piaget. Even then, not every kid will be the life of the party that lets everyone down. But laughter and jokes are important to develop. A sense of humor not only makes friends but is a real boon for lifelong mental health.

“Anxiety and stress hate fun,” says anxiety therapist Chad Brandt, Ph.D. “When we’re anxious, everything gets serious and everything feels really heavy. It’s getting hard to be ourselves. Therefore, it is usually very helpful for parents and their children to find places to have fun.”

Fortunately, there are many daily opportunities to help children develop a healthy sense of humor, which doesn’t just have to mean telling jokes, but can also involve dry wit, illustrations, or physical comedy. Here are four things parents do that raise fun kids.

1. Laugh at your child’s jokes

Brandt sees humor as an indispensable tool for connecting with children, with attempts at humor typically serving as an attempt at connection. Parents often do these commandments when children begin to shut down emotionally, and children do these commandments when they feel their parents are not paying them enough attention or eliciting validation.

Laughing together with children is a powerful shared experience that strengthens bonds. But kids don’t always have a good sense of when it’s appropriate to bring humor into a situation, and parents don’t always have the energy to engage in silliness.

When a child’s humorous offer of a connection doesn’t go down well, Brandt suggests being honest with them about what happened and giving them a chance to make the offer again.

“If your child tells you a joke and you reject them because you had something else to do, come back 10 minutes later or later that evening or even the next day and admit they tried to tell you a joke ,” he says. “You can say, ‘I was so busy,’ or ‘I was stressed and I didn’t hear you. I wasn’t laughing and not giving you the attention you deserved. I’m really sorry about that .I’d like to hear it now, if you’d like to tell me again.'”

When parents apologize specifically for their own behavior—in this case, not listening to a joke—children can better understand what happened in the previous moment and apply tools that help them appropriately read the context of future interactions. Or, as you might say in comedy parlance, it might help them read the room.

2nd workshop jokes together

As breezy as the comedy specials on Netflix and HBO may seem, even the best standup comedians don’t always get it right on the first try. So when your child tells an absolutely brilliant joke, they’re in good company.

But comedians don’t immediately cast aside jokes that lie flat. Instead, if there’s a joke they believe in, they tinker with it until it hits. They crack jokes with their friends, train them in small clubs, adjust their performance and refine what works over time. If after all this the joke still doesn’t land, maybe they’ll throw it out at some point.

Parents can encourage a similar creative process when their child tells a joke that doesn’t make sense — which most of them might be for a while. It’s possible to validate kids without swearing the lie that their unfunny joke is hilarious and without sending them to seedy comedy bars to develop their idea. Brandt suggests affirming creativity instead of quality and encouraging another attempt. Some of his favorite answers are:

  • “I wonder what you’ll think of next.”
  • “I can’t wait to hear the next one.”
  • “Come back and tell me another version of it tomorrow. I’m excited to see what else can be done with it!”

“Once you understand why they find the joke funny, you can tell them to write it down,” Brandt says. “Or have them draw a picture of the joke. What you will find is that the joke will evolve and change. That’s what makes humor great, right? You take a little idea and the joke gets funnier as you build on it.”

3. Embrace Puns (AKA Dad Jokes)

The very best dad jokes elicit loud groans that kids use to stifle their giggles—because even if they find the cheesiness funny, they probably don’t want to admit it.

But dad jokes aren’t just fun, they’re important lessons for kids about trying new things, coping with failure, and embracing differences — not to mention how to play with the language. Brandt encourages parents to tell dad jokes — almost always a variation on the pun; a punchline that’s both super ridiculous and cerebrally obscure — frequently and enjoy your kids’ reactions.

“When we tell dad jokes, we let our kids know it’s okay to be nerdy. It’s okay to shoot something. It’s okay to do something you find funny even if the rest of the world doesn’t approve,” he says. “If you show them, hey, I can tell a joke that I find funny and enjoy myself when no one else is doing it, then they’ll be more willing to be creative.”

One of the great things about dad jokes is that there are already a seemingly unlimited number out there. Aside from checking your ego at the door and committing to a convincing presentation, it doesn’t take much time or effort to keep the moans going.

4. Please let kids know when jokes cross the line

As children develop their sense of humor, they will no doubt stray to the dark side – or, conversely, fart too deeply. It can be disappointing to hear a mean or tacky joke passed your child’s lips, and it can be both angry and embarrassing when it delivers a racist, sexist, or homophobic punch line. But taking a swipe to make it a teachable moment instead of hitting the panic button and forcibly shutting them off can help them become intuitively funny and Kind of, rather than just shutting her up altogether.

Brandt tries to model emotional intelligence and help children build empathy when they tell mean or offensive jokes. “Sometimes I can even admit that the joke was funny. But it could also hurt someone’s feelings,” he says. “Or I’ll say, ‘I wonder how that makes other people feel. It makes me a little gross. I think it’s something that hurts someone’s feelings.’”

Some jokes are irreversible and must be put aside altogether. But in other cases, it may be appropriate to get children thinking about whether it’s possible to tell the joke in a way that doesn’t make someone else feel bad. Even if there is no way to make the joke appropriate, the process of thinking and imagining how the joke would make them feel if the tables were turned encourages children to think and feel.

And all hope is not lost if you lose your temper when your child tells an offensive joke.

“It’s okay to come back and calmly explain that the joke made you feel bad. Then give them a chance to tell the joke differently or tell you a completely different joke,” says Brandt. “Because the lesson we’re trying to teach isn’t not trying to be funny. The lesson is beautiful and funny.”

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