THE IMPORTANCE OF LAUGHTER
The following page is selected excerpts from this article involving The Great Zucchini, a Washington D.C. Magician.
Did you know that laughter is incredibly health for young children?
Experts say that laughter has a lasting impact on children. It’s not just fun to laugh; it’s healthy, too.
Researchers from Lomo Linda University have found that laughter gives a big boost to the immune system and growth hormones.
“Laughter stimulates the production of beta-endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, as well as human growth hormone, which helps tune up the immune system and regulate metabolism,” the health experts at Juicy Juice report. Moreover, according to Mayo Clinic, having a good laugh also relieves stress, soothes tension and tummy troubles, and keeps the heart, lungs, and muscles in good shape.
Author, psychotherapist, and health professional Dorothea Hover-Kramer says, “Research is confirming what has always made sense: when a child is happy, the immune system is active and health is supported.”
“We change physiologically when we laugh,” explains R. Morgan Griffin, writer for WebMD. “We stretch muscles throughout our face and body, our pulse and blood pressure go up, and we breathe faster, sending more oxygen to our tissues.”
William Fry, a researcher who pioneered studies in laughter therapy, claims it would take ten minutes on a rowing machine to match the aerobic exercise from just one minute of laughing.
“The effects of laughter and exercise are very similar,” psychologist and laugh therapist Steve Wilson tells WebMD. “Combining laughter and movement, like waving your arms, is a great way to boost your heart rate.”
“Laughing together is a way to connect,” says D’Arcy Lyness, PhD, “and a good sense of humor also can make kids smarter, healthier, and better able to cope with challenges.”
It’s important to develop a sense of humor early, says Lyness. While many people think humor is inherited – you’re either born funny or you’re not – Lyness says it’s actually a learned skill that parents can teach their children. “A good sense of humor is a tool that kids can rely on throughout life,” she writes. Humor helps children develop perspective, spontaneity, and new ways of thinking.
“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,” continues Lyness. “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.”
Parents can impart good humor to their children as young as infancy. “Babies don’t really understand humor,” says Lyness, “but they do know when you’re smiling and laughing. …Sometime between 9 and 15 months, babies know enough about the world to understand that when mom puts a diaper on her head or starts to quack like a duck, she’s doing something unexpected – and that’s funny.
Toddler-aged children start to appreciate physical humor, especially if there’s an element of surprise like peek-a-boo games. As children reach preschool age, they find humor in things that are out of place, “[like] a car with square wheels or a pig wearing sunglasses,” Lyness says. “And as they become more aware of bodily functions and what gets a parent’s goat, preschoolers often start delighting in bathroom humor.”
As children move into kindergarten and elementary school, they have a better grasp of wordplay and get a kick out of simple jokes with punch lines. Exaggerated humor and slapstick are also a hit with the kindergarten crowd.
Regardless of your child’s age, Lyness says it’s most important to engage with them in lighthearted ways. “Be spontaneous, playful, and aware of what your child finds funny at different ages,” she writes. “Also be game enough to laugh so the joke doesn’t fall flat.”
The best way to keep your family laughing – and reaping the health benefits from it – is to be a model of humor yourself. “Make jokes. Tell funny stories. Laugh out loud. Deal lightly with small catastrophes like spilled milk,” says Lyness.
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This page is selected excerpts from this article involving The Great Zucchini, a Washington D.C. Magician.
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