Sense of Humour

How an Early Learning Centre Can Help Develop a Healthy Sense of Humour in Young Children

30 May 2024
Posted by: Chelsea

Do young children have a sense of humour? This question might seem, at first glance, to have an obvious answer. One only has to look at babies giggling away to say immediately “yes” in response.

Healthy Sense of Humour in Young Children

Yet the question is surprisingly complex and attendance at an early learning centre can be important in helping your child to develop a healthy sense of humour.

Early learning centre and laughing children

Visit a good early learning centre and you’ll see lots of small smiling and laughing faces!

Yet surprisingly, the development of humour is not understood in terms of its origins, even though developmental milestones by age are clearer.

Even very young babies can smile. In many cases, this is presumed to be linked to physical or emotional stimuli rather than what adults would call a sense of humour per se. The baby might smile because it has just been tickled or been given a favourite foodstuff.

By the age of around 6 months though, a change will typically be seen in that the baby starts to find things funny that aren’t necessarily linked to a direct physical stimulus. They react to more abstract stimuli, such as someone pulling a silly face or playing ‘peek-a-boo’.

By the time they’re toddlers, children’s humour is becoming broader, though is still fairly direct. They may find nonsense words hilarious and will sometimes make up their own. That’s partly for their own amusement but also because they’re already starting to enjoy and find funny, the effect they can have on others. An example is the toddler who knows already that a ‘cup’ is a cup but points to it and says ‘potty’ or ‘cat’. Seeing adults laugh is positive feedback and that helps children to develop their sense of humour further.

Preschool ages

By the time a child is roughly 2-3, its humour will take the next quantum leap in development terms. This usually involves the absurd or inappropriate and it’s often the first age at which a child’s humour may need some help in direction!

Absurd humour is relatively straightforward. It typically involves things such as a child deliberately putting a cat’s head on an elephant’s body in a modelling game, finding it hilarious and the reaction of others to it likewise.

Inappropriate humour is when a child starts using ‘naughty’ words or concepts in language or play. That might mean something like pointing to food and saying “that looks like poo”. How far that sort of development goes will be influenced often by their home and play experiences, notably if they have older siblings who have taught them (intentionally or otherwise) some older words and humour.

Why the early learning centre must help

Studies have shown clearly that children who have, for their age, a developed sense of humour may experience multiple benefits. They’re typically:

  • more creative and better at problem solving;
  • less inclined to develop depression both in childhood and later in adult life;
  • better at conflict resolution and conflict avoidance;
  • more adept at social engagement and in making and keeping friends;
  • less likely to experience problems with self-image and self-confidence;
  • far more inclined towards optimism.

Surprisingly perhaps, it’s also clear from studies that children who have a well-developed sense of humour tend to carry that forward with them (assuming no other traumas in their life) into adulthood.
For adults, having a vibrant sense of humour is now known to bring significant medical benefits in many cases, including lower blood pressure, reduced stress and cardiac rates plus improved digestion.

What we do

As an experienced early learning centre, we:

  • encourage children to express themselves via humour and the use of various forms of humorous techniques;
  • appreciate their attempts at humour and provide positive feedback (even if, in reality, it wasn’t that funny!);
  • help to gently but without criticism, shape them away from undesirable humour, such as mockery, insulting others, expletives etc.

Why not arrange an appointment to come and see us to learn how we put these things into practice?

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