Want to raise an empathetic, problem-solving adult? Laugh at your kids’ jokes, experts suggest.

Dr. Emma Byrne, author of Swearing is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language, explained to Romper that kids as young as eight months old will attempt to make their parents and caregivers laugh. The best thing parents can do in return? Let out a good chuckle! Kids tell jokes and do funny things in an effort to make you happy, which means it comes from a place of pure altruism, not a place of just attention-seeking.

photo: Brooke Cagle via Unsplash 

Rewarding that behavior by laughing and showing enjoyment from their actions will therefore encourage your kids to be more empathetic as they grow older, Byrne explains. Basically your kids just want to make you happy by making you smile so when you smile and laugh in return, they are encouraged to continue doing things that make others feel good.

Byrne said the key here is “Showing that you appreciate their effort, that you recognize that they…are trying so hard to make you happy, to make you smile.”

Raising kids to be humorous has plenty of other benefits as well. Studies have linked having a sense of humor to higher emotional intelligence. Research has also shown that being funny can lead to positive perceptions by others and an increase in self-confidence. Laughter and humor have also been linked with stability in relationships and marriage.

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—Shahrzad Warkentin

 

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