Moving from “kid” to “teen” isn’t easy. Everything is changing – their bodies, minds, emotions, friendships – making life feel out of control at times. Now, research from the Stanford University School of Medicine suggests that laughter can help kids negotiate this tricky passage.
Brain scans while 6- to 12-year-olds watched episodes of America’s Funniest Home Videos turned up something that surprised researchers: Even though a kid’s sense of humor is still developing, laughter "tickled" the same brain networks that light up when adults start guffawing. Developing these networks with regular doses of age-appropriate humor, the scientists suspect, could help them build the resilience they’ll need later on.
“Humor is a very important component of emotional health, maintaining relationships, developing cognitive function and perhaps even medical health,” researcher Allan Reiss, MD, who directs the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research at Stanford, noted in a Stanford University report about the study. “In particular, we think a balanced and consistent sense of humor may help children negotiate the difficult period of pre-adolescence and adolescence.”
If your first thought is, “time to break out the joke book,” good for you. But here’s the challenge: Your kid’s already laughing more often than you are. By some accounts, kids laugh 200 times a day, adults just 15 to 18 times.