Laugh It Up!
When I was a kid, dinnertime was like tuning into Comedy Central. My father had a stellar sense of humor and my mother played the perfect straight-man to his goofy comments. My sisters and I enjoyed laughing and even got in on the teasing and banter. Above all our family foundation was love, but it was also all about humor and fun. Maintaining a sense of humor in your family life is vital to creating a happy and healthy home.
Laughter is good for you. Science tells us that laughter is physiologically beneficial. Those benefits include a boosted immune system, ongoing stress relief, increased pain tolerance, improved cardiovascular health, reduced anxiety, fewer bouts with depression, and improved levels of energy and focus.
Humor can elevate self-esteem. Think about it, when you say or do something funny that causes others to laugh, it makes you feel good. There’s a release of dopamine that creates a sense of well-being or euphoria—a natural high. This feeling also inspires the frequency of comedic behavior which creates a well-developed sense of humor.
Humor challenges us intellectually. Anyone who enjoyed Seinfeld knows the style of comedy featured on the show was largely observational. Being aware of what makes life funny is a skill. Seeing that humor and sharing it challenges us to understand why it’s funny. When someone says or does something funny, the natural inclination is to laugh first and think later—but most of us do a split-second accounting of the thought process behind the joke.
Laughter increases intimacy between family members. Developing a language of humor is deeply effective in bonding between family members. Little inside jokes and silly routines create comfort and encourage confidence and remind us that we are loved and appreciated. Avoid excessive use of sarcasm with kids, as they are likely too young to distinguish between teasing and harsh criticism.
Humor helps us cope. Sharing a funny joke or using subtle humor can soothe hurt feelings and ease differences. A well-timed joke can defuse a difficult situation and offer consolation when a child is disappointed or challenged. Humor can reframe problems and keep the world in perspective—all proving that it truly is best to “look on the bright side.”
But how do you make your life more fun?
- Don’t take yourself too seriously. Smile and model relaxed, approachable, and warm behavior.
- Exaggerate and make ridiculous comments to engage your children in laughter—be a goofball.
- Use props—like hats, weird accessories, and costumes and incorporate them into your wardrobe at unexpected times and places.
- Paint on a mustache, wear a clown nose or dress up the family pet to get a smile.
- A little blue? Just apply music! Remember those scenes in movies where the characters break into song or lip-sync and dance? Yup, you can do that too.
- Text funny memes that fit the situation you’re dealing with. Pinterest has a treasure trove of hilarious things to share or post to social media pages.
- Leave funny notes under your child’s pillow, zipped in their backpack, tucked in their lunch box or taped to the car window.
Finally, one sure-fire way to keep your family smiling is to check your little ones in for fun at Kids Quest. This month we’re off to the Kids Quest Carnival for some midway magic. See you there!