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TEACHABLE MOMENTS:Who doesn’t like to laugh?

Tommy Fairweather
Tommy Fairweather

“Eat that eggplant, and you will lay an egg.” I told my son, trying to get him to eat a different vegetable. “I promise,” I said. He did eat it. My husband distracted him while I went to the kitchen to get the egg. Concealing the egg, I placed it on back of his chair. After sitting down I said, “Check your chair.” We all laughed hardily, and the story of the event is repeated to grandchildren. The purpose of this article is to indicate why a sense of humor is a helpful trait and provide ideas of ways you can encourage humor in your home.

Humor is not a school subject, but there are many reasons to help children become more humorous. Listed below are the positive effects when a child possesses a great sense of humor, according to Dr. Dr. Louis R. Franzini, PhD, author of Kids Who Laugh: How to Develop Your Child’s Sense of Humor.

Humor seems to have a positive effect on the body.

Humor can be a great social skill. It helps sooth rough interactions.

Children with a great sense of humor are liked by family, peers and teachers.

Humor can help a child cope with many of life’s stresses

Children who are able to laugh at the funny side of life can be described as “internally happy."

Dr. Franzini’s book discusses the many types of humor found in children’s lives. Verbal humor is often interesting to children from ages five and up. Here are some of the most commonly used forms to be encouraged at home:

Rhyming words: Preschool age children like to listen to the rhyming words often found in poetry and nursery rhymes. Eventually, they can begin to create their own silly rhyming words, a great exercise for developing humor and reading skills.

Jokes: Children become interested in jokes quite early. By second grade they are into the Knock Knock jokes. First, they enjoy hearing them and then they love to tell them. Eventually, they will begin to create their own Knock Knock jokes.

Riddles: As the child begins to write, provide examples of riddles from a riddle book. Help your child begin to construct his/her own riddles.

Funny Stories: Make up a funny story where you exaggerate events and traits of characters. Once the child has read your example, then you help your child create an original. Eventually, you can submit the story to a child’s magazine, like Highlights.

Word Play: When your child has become a sophisticated reader and a proficient writer, you can introduce similes. Example: “The color of her dress was like ice cream for her eyes.” Then give the child prompts to complete, such as: wise as a ____ or smart as an ____ to complete. Encourage children to identify similes in books they are reading.

Other Humor: Beside word play, there are other activities that will encourage development of humor. Before you get started on these projects, you might start a collection of humor props as recommended by Dr. Franzini. These props can include a plastic nose, huge bowtie, huge glasses, a bubble blowing kit, cowbell, and oversize shoes. Party stores, discount stores at Halloween and the Oriental Trading Company (online) all have great props.

Watching Funny Movies: Select a specific night, maybe once a month, and watch a funny movie with your family on that night. My research of comedians proved to me that they spent a lot of time watching humorous shows on TV.

Making Funny Home Movies: In today’s digital age creating a funny family movie should be lots of fun. Watching the created movie over and over will bring back the memory of that fun and it becomes a classic.

Make Me Laugh Game: Each child gets one minute to tell a joke. This will hone your child’s ability to tell timely jokes effectively

I must mention that you need to teach your child there are inappropriate uses of humor. Tell your children jokes that are bathroom jokes or will hurt someone’s feelings are taboo. Other than that precaution, all of these activities should bring joy and laughter to your house. Who doesn’t like a good laugh?

Tommy Fairweather is a retired Walton County teacher and educational consultant who lives in Destin.