I am not known to be a big joker. In fact, it is a big joke to a lot of very close friends how serious a person I am. So imagine my apprehension when I discovered that joking around and pretending with your kids is supposedly a good thing for their development. So, before I started to panic in a major way and blame myself for the millions of moments I missed out adding to their better development by not being a joker, I decided to look into this and see what I missed out on doing, if I missed anything at all even.
The importance of joking and pretending
Turns out child development experts have been doing research into the effect of joking and pretending done by parents with their toddler children. These researchers found
…that joking and pretending by parents with their toddlers were important in building children’s social skills, learning and creativity.
Wow! I was beginning to feel really inadequate. Apparently, I missed out on doing something completely free that was supposed to give them this kick start in life skills! The target age was 15-24 months and my kids have long passed that mark so did that mean it was too late to start this method of development?
Luckily, upon deeper reflection, it turns out that I am not the humorless rock I have always believed myself to be after all. Research says that making jokes and pretending when doing things helps kids recognize these concepts, the difference between the concepts, and helps them become more creative, have more humor, promotes sociability, and thinking out of the box.
How to joke with young children
And it isn’t really too hard. I remember there were so many instances where I was cleaning out a closet or a bag or a box of toys with my two kids and then I would ask them where things would go and they would tell me one place and I would “mistakenly” put it elsewhere. They would laugh and call me out, and I would gasp with appropriate surprise, and this would send them into fits of giggles over how silly mommy was being. Other things I would do would be to sing their favorite songs and change up the lyrics, all the time innocently looking at them as if I was singing the correct thing. This again would send them into gales of laughter. These are just a few of the things I recall doing, so I am not too panicked that I have deprived them of jokes and pretend play since birth and at present.
Have I noticed anything extraordinarily different in the development of my kids? Well, honestly, the non-biased answer is not really. They seem to me the way normal, adjusted, developing, intelligent, happy kids should be. I will say that my son loves to make stories up in drawing and sings while explaining his drawings, and my daughter really loves mixing things up as a joke. Is that normal? I am guessing so. Is it great to see them love to laugh and to know that they get some of that from their staid and serious mom? It sure is.
What do you think about humor as a teaching tool?