By Beth Pinyerd
During this autumn season with school, after-school functions, holiday activities, etc., we get so busy that we don’t take time to stop and relax as families. Tomorrow, Nov. 14, is “Loosen up, Lighten Up Day.” The purpose of this day is to remind folks of the benefits of laughter. I have covered the benefits of laughter with older people in an earlier article but this article focuses on the benefits of laughter in children.
I love to rock babies in the church nursery and see them smile and hear them just plain old laugh with a gleam in their eyes! They smile and cry in order to communicate with us, but laughter is another avenue of infant communication.
As an early childhood teacher, I love to hear the sound of children genuinely giggle and laugh. Their sweet, innocent laughter is contagious! It is the best medicine for children and adults.
Laughter lifts our depressed moods and eases stress. A chuckle or hearty laugh seems to provide a promotion for good self esteem in children. When children can find humor in their mistakes just by “Laughing it off” then this triggers confidence to try again!
From the first simple smile at 1 to 3 months, to social smiles at 4 months, laughing at being tickled at 6 months, to laughing at playing “peek-a-boo” at 8 months, laughter starts early in our lives.
Children ages 1, 2 and 3 begin to express themselves verbally, so they begin to laugh at playing with words! To we parents and teachers, it might sound “silly” in our adult world, but remember, this is a child’s language and social development. By age 4, a child is able to understand, verbalize and laugh at simple jokes like “Knock, Knock, who’s there?”
I love to see the different cultures in our community preschool classes. In teaching children from different countries, laughter seems to be a universal language in trying to communicate.
Some of the benefits of laughter are when a child is happy and expresses laughter, they experience security which helps them sleep well. Reading bedside stories can make them laugh, reduce anxious thoughts and stimulate good sleep.
A good laugh when teaching young children makes them more mentally alert to the lesson being taught, as well as encouraging creativity.
With young children who experience separation anxiety when going to preschool, daycare or other places, laughing with your child before separating from them will help in the transition from parent to teacher or caregiver. It gives them a positive start in their day!
A good laugh helps our bodies overall. Reap the benefits of “Loosen up, Lighten up Day” by having a good laugh wherever you are!
Beth Pinyerd has taught young children in the Early Childhood Classroom for 34 years as well as outreaching to the elderly in intergenerational settings. She has taught and outreached in the schools in the Opelika Community and Baldwin County Community. She holds a master’s degree in early childhood education as well as a bachelor’s degree in family and child development both from Auburn University. Her husband is the late Carl Pinyerd and she has one son, Gus Pinyerd who has taught her so much about learning. Classroom Observer is here to serve the community in sharing the wonderful teaching programs in our local public schools, private schools, and homeschools. The column is provided to enrich the education of our children, youth, and families. Classroom Observer welcomes educational news, school news, pictures, and events by e-mailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.