Family Matters
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Family Matters

EMBRACING YOUR CHILD’S SENSE OF HUMOR

Engaging with silliness brings joy and love.

Humor in young kids is pretty basic. This gives you the opportunity to play the goofy, silly, and confused doofus. Channel your inner Groucho Marx or a non-violent version of the Three Stooges.

Practice “silly walks” like John Cleese. Walk into the room with an extra pair of pants on your head and act like everything is normal. Carry a load of laundry in your arms and keep dropping clothes and picking them up with exaggerated moves.

Kids love it when adults bumble or goof up, so do it on purpose. Look high and low for the kid that’s right behind you. Set the table for dinner by putting the dishes on the chairs. Then mix things up when they try to fix it.

You can create joyful moments with these bits of silliness and sharing a laugh with your child creates emotional connection. I love watching my kids develop a sense of humor. They certainly enjoy the bumbling adult long after they’re old enough to know it’s a game.

Once your child can read, you can offer them a kid’s joke book. Then your road trips can consist of never ending “knock, knock” jokes and silly kid riddles. It’s better than listening to some cartoon playing on a tablet or the endless repetition of kids’ music.

It’s also fun to encourage puns. In the beginning, they won’t get the humor, but if you keep it up, they will gradually come to appreciate the verbal word play. Most of their early attempts to make a pun will simply not make sense. Then they’ll hit one smack on, and your heart will swell with pride at their punny perfection.

But beware! Dangerous roads are ahead!

Pretty much all kids will suddenly become obsessed with potty humor around age five. I remember when my neighbor’s girl hit this stage, and I thought “Wow, I’m glad my kids don’t do that.” Ha, ha! What a newbie I was!

They all do it when they hit the right age. It will probably start with giggling over the word “butt,” and become more scatological as time goes on. The word “fart” is a guaranteed side splitter for years to come.

Some parents find this extremely vulgar and attempt to squash it. But I promise you that even if you are no longer hearing it (unlikely), the potty humor continues behind your back. Other parents (probably a lot of dads) will embrace their younger self and join in with the more flatulent humor.

Honestly, the potty humor and pratfall stages goes on for many years. In our home, parents generally join in on the fart jokes and slapstick. I do try to shut down the pee and poop jokes because if I don’t, they will go on, and on, and on, and on, forever! Sigh.

But mix a silly walk with a fart sound and a good pratfall? Guaranteed hysterical giggles for years to come!

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Kathleen Cawley

Kathleen Cawley

Physician Asst., twin mom, author of “Navigating Modern Parenthood: Warty Truths and Wisdom from an Older Mom with Twins.” Coming out spring/summer 2022.