The next time when being with toddlers seems like endless negotiations, throw in a few jokes! Be funny. Put the book on your head when you are ready to read. Or pretend to drink using your ear. Toddlers will find it hilarious. And, it is good for your relationship, their cognitive development, and health!
Jokes break the monotony, support secure attachment relationships and are at the heart of empathy! To understand a joke, a toddler must predict what should happen next. Consistent, predictable and trusting relationship lay the foundation for jokes.
Researchers are studying humor. They say that in infancy, children begin looking for ways to get caring adults to laugh.Look what happens when this dad tries to cut his daughter’s nails. Or watch as Ethan roars in anticipation of the paper tearing. Laughter seals the deal on the relationship. It says, “I know that you know that I know!”
Cognitively, how do toddlers know it is a joke? Studies show that very young children are watching and listening for cues. Researchers found that when parents show disbelief in what they are doing, kids know it is a joke. By watching signals and sharing laughter, toddlers are learning about shared emotional experiences. Jokes support emotional readiness – relationships, emotional expression, curiosity, and empathy.
Laughter and smiling also enhance positive changes in our adult bodies. These changes are similar to the feel good hormones that exercise causes. Laughter increases blood flow, builds the immune system, and improves relaxation and sleep.
So, encourage giggles, laughs, and downright roars. Put a chicken on your head and wonder where it went. Try to put on the toddler’s shoe. Jokes increase the happiness and health of all of us.