We have an unspoken rule in our house, “If it’s funny, you’re not in trouble.” My kids seem to know that if they can make me laugh, my anger seems to diffuse. It’s a win-win because when my kids are funny and creative enough, it makes me feel like I’ve done something right.
Humor was always part of my life growing up. Some might say it was my compensatory strategy. As far as compensatory strategies go, it’s not the worst one to have. As I grew up it served me well. I could always see a different, funny perspective, make my glass half full, and laugh at myself when I made a mistake. In short, I never took life too seriously.
Research shows that humor increases the immune system and safeguards against depression, lowers stress, and even aids in better digestion. People with a developed sense of humor are happier, more resilient, and smarter than their non-humorous counterparts.
As I grew up, a sense of humor helped me through those early days of parenting just, as it’s helped me through every challenge I’ve faced in my life—I liked it so much, I decided to make it my job and become a comedian. However, you don’t need to do it professionally to reap the benefits of a good guffaw.
Kids model your behavior, if they see you approaching life with ease and not taking things or yourself too seriously there’s a higher chance they will do the same. If it doesn’t come naturally, that’s ok. Here are some steps to making it happen:
1. Be a humor model. Let your kids see you using laughter as a way to deal with the harder things in life. Try to find the bright side or the learning in your challenges.
2. Use laughter as a way to connect. Tell jokes, use wordplay, and slapstick humor. When your kids are upset, find a way to make a joke or at least make them smile. Play funny games with your kids to build connection and trust.
3. Surround them with humor from an early age. Age-appropriate joke books, movies, and songs. Encourage your kids to write their own jokes and always laugh loudly! Encourage them to read about funny people and watch funny shows. When they do laugh, ask them what was funny about it so they can begin to understand how to craft a joke.
A good sense of humor is just one of the tools I want to give my kids for mastery of their life. All I can do is model.