There is no funny business here, laughter has proven to be a vital part of child development for our little ones. One of babies’ first instincts are to smile. By 8-10 weeks babies can smile in response to stimuli and soon after they begin laughing spontaneously. This laughter shifts to a response to their environment by about 3 months old. Smiling and laughing are some of the very earliest forms of engaging with others and connecting in a social form.
Laughter's ability to diffuse stress is just one of many reasons why it's a critical part of a child's development. Having a sense of humor plays an important role in developing self-esteem, learning to problem solve, and honing social skills, explains Louis Franzini, PhD, author of Kids Who Laugh: How to Develop Your Child's Sense of Humor (Square One). "It's one of the most desirable personality traits," he says. "And parents can, without a doubt, help foster it."
By now we know that play is such a large part of child development. Laughter is a big component of play. Laughter and humor have been shown to directly connect with a child’s development. Humor can build a child’s vocabulary, reading skills and assist with creative thinking. Laughter and humor are expressed silliest in these early years. Children enjoy hearing stories, rhymes, silly situations and word plays. Child humor often starts as infants with funny sounds and goofy faces and you can see humor changes as children grow and develop more advanced thinking skills.
Humor is a reflection of how much a child has grown and learned. Parents are endlessly anxious about the connections and relationships that their children will have as they grow. Cultivating humor is a great way to help your child make meaningful connections. Humor is a way of connecting. It’s been proven that children “who are better at making and understanding jokes are more socially competent, more popular, have better prosocial skills, and are less likely to be depressed. In other words, a good sense of humor can help children feel more competent and in control of social interactions at school and with their peers.” Nobel Coaching
So laugh! Encourage a giggle. Cross your eyes and stick out your tongue. Make these silly connections with your children now so their humor can grow with them and they can develop the skills to make connections with those around them.