Over the weekend my daughter asked me to download a few new apps on our iPad. After a quick search, we added Talking Tom 2, among others, to our collection of kids’ games. (For those unfamiliar with Tom, in short, he’s an animated cat who comically repeats what you say.)
Now, I am in no way professionally endorsing the appropriateness of this little cat. (Or the flatulence, the mild violence, the treatment of animals, etc., etc., etc., associated therewith.) In fact, Tom is unlike anything I’ve ever let my kids play with (and He has required quite a bit of debriefing!). But my daughter was right about one thing in her sales pitch for the app: Tom is soooo funny, Mom.
And my 4-year-old, who met Tom for the first time that day, couldn’t agree more.
Later that evening, my husband and I overheard our son in the kitchen. He was on the floor, iPad in hand, laughing hysterically at this mocking Tom Cat. I mean, doubled-over, tears in his eyes, holding his side, belly laughing. He was beside himself. And before long, we were beside ourselves too. Not at the Cat, but at how happy the Cat was making our son. It was the most we’ve seen our son laugh in one sitting. And for that, I will forever be a fan of Tom.
The Importance of Humor
In childhood, the development of a sense of humor can serve to socially and emotionally enhance a child’s well-being and optimize his overall health. According to KidsHealth,
“Kids with a well-developed sense of humor are happier and more optimistic, have higher self-esteem, and can handle differences (their own and others’) well. Kids who can appreciate and share humor are better liked by their peers and more able to handle the adversities of childhood — from moving to a new town, to teasing, to torment by playground bullies.”
Research shows that humor also reduces levels of cortisol (a.k.a., stress hormones) as it improves our immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems. The endocrine system is instrumental in regulating mood and metabolism, as well as human growth and development. As laughter raises our spirits and eases our tension, it creates a mental divide between us and stress. In children, especially, the experience of joy and laughter promote the development of securely-attached relationships. And if all this wasn’t enough, humor engages our brains differently than formal thought processing. It activates neural spindle cells that distribute feelings of bliss across our brains and throughout our bodies. Perhaps laughter is, indeed, the best medicine.
Thought for today: When was the last time you and your child shared a good ‘ole belly laugh?
Practicing What I Preach: By nature I default to being too serious. Too often I get wrapped up in responsibilities and don’t take time to unwind and laugh. Thank goodness I have my kiddos to keep me grounded. Their joy is contagious. Our six-year-old, especially, loves telling jokes. From jokes printed on popsicle sticks, to joke cards I stick in my daughter’s lunchbox, to introducing us to apps like Talking Tom, my daughter is constantly testing “new material” to get a laugh. In her words, she is egg-ceptionally skilled at quacking people up!
Help your child unlock a sense of humor too. As comedian Yakov Smirnoff once said,
If love is the treasure, laughter is the key.