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How Humor Helps

When was the last time you genuinely laughed with your kids? Not at your kids, even in reaction to something that they did that was unintentionally funny. Laughing together can heal wounds, increase connection, and associate pleasure with interactions. There are even laughter clubs, where people get together and purposefully laugh. Laughing in a group has physical and psychological benefits. The National Institute of Health explains that “laughter is a social emotion, occurring most often in interactions, where it is associated with bonding, agreement, affection and emotional regulation*”. What do most of us need more of with our kids? Bonding, agreement, affection, and emotional regulation, right?

Sometimes, when we struggle to have positive interactions with our child, it can help to use humor (but carefully!) The kind of humor I am referring to, which will hopefully evoke laughter, is not mocking or sarcastic. Laughing at someone tends to result in hurt feelings and alienation. What you say is important but your intentions behind the words will be communicated through non-verbal information like your tone or facial expression. If you come from a place of “I am on my child’s side”, then you may evoke a feeling of acceptance and understanding in your child.

I believe laughter also increases curiosity and creativity, which are crucial for problem solving collaboratively. You can think you know what is going on with your child or teen, but unless you approach them with curiosity and compassion, you may be actually increasing the distance between you. Humor can diffuse tension when it demonstrates how ridiculous a situation might be. You will probably make mistakes while using humor with your child, but when you learn from those mistakes you can try again next time using this invaluable tool.


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