Here’s a look at your child’s growing sense of humour, and the benefits they’ll get from having a good laugh
Urban legend has it that a four-year-old laughs more than 400 times a day, and an adult just 17 times. Whatever the frequency, your child’s sense of humour is still developing at this age and life can be one chuckle-fest after the other.
Why laughing is good for us
First of all, laughter establishes a connection between you and your kids, and there’s no better lift for a weary parent than a giggling toddler!
But laughter can actually help boost learning, according to psychologist Dr Dorothy Einon. “Your child will realise that we approve of what she has said or done because we are laughing too,” she says. “They realise that a light-hearted attitude can be applied to the process of learning serious things, too.”
As well as being good for your child’s social and mental development, laughing is incredibly good for their health.
Research has shown that laughter triggers the release of ‘feel-good’ hormones such as endorphins, reduces stress hormones, and boosts the immune system. Muscle tension is reduced, circulation and breathing patterns are improved and the amount of oxygen in the blood rises, too.
And of course, laughing shows your child feels happy, and that’s got to be the best news of all!
How to make your child laugh
1. Go goofy
Slapstick humour is a big hit with the average four-year-old. ‘My daughter Skye thinks people falling over is the most hilarious thing in the world,’ says Tesco Baby Club parent Mel. Try hitting yourself on the head with a pillow and falling over, or pretending you can’t find them when they’re hiding in an obvious place – always a winner.
2. Encourage them to tell jokes
Your child will love telling you ‘jokes’. They may not make any sense at all but who cares if they’re funny. Make sure you laugh at their jokes – even if they’re not that funny!
3. Roll with the toilet humour
By four, kids realise that toilet talk is largely taboo, so it’s a natural focus for humour. ‘My kids laugh uproariously at farting noises and anything to do with pooing,’ says Tesco Baby Club parent Chris. Do act mildly shocked by their ‘rude’ jokes. And obviously rein them in when there are visitors!
4. Be silly
Read books using silly voices, make those leftover peas talk or sing a silly song together, featuring your child. Children love their own personal stories, especially if they are funny.
5. Tickle them
It may sound obvious but one of the best ways to encourage laughter is with a tickle-fest!
6. Find the funny in everyday life
Whether it’s building a comical creation out of Lego or making a face out of your child’s dinner, it’ll help develop their sense of humour, while also inspiring their creative thinking. And it’ll also help you to up your own daily laugh quota – and that’s got to be something to chuckle about.
If you liked this, read more about preschool development in How to help your child’s imagination