What's Funny to a Preschooler?
By the preschool years, kids are humor veterans. After all, they've been smiling and laughing for years. A reliable host of tricks and jokes will crack them up, and even as preschoolers get older, they continue to be amused by many of the things they found funny as toddlers.
The Importance of Humor
Peekaboo will still get a laugh, only now kids like to extend it into giggly games of hide-and-seek. Expect your preschooler to continue to enjoy using objects in silly ways — putting mittens on feet, walking around the house in your shoes, or pretending a toy car is a phone.
But because a sense of humor is essentially an intellectual and emotional skill, it grows as your preschooler does. Kids are always finding new things funny while developing a better and more sophisticated understanding of the world. And they're eager to show off new ways to be playful.
Humor is something you can enjoy together, but it's more than just fun. The benefits of a good sense of humor are well documented and include better health, increased optimism, higher self-esteem, and greater emotional intelligence.
And the best thing is that these benefits are possible for anyone: Research shows that a sense of humor is learned, not inherited.
Hey There, Tommy - I Mean, Mommy!
A big activity for preschoolers is labeling things (that's why you hear the question "what's that?" all day long). Kids this age are becoming aware that everything has a name and they love using their new vocabulary.
Your child is probably using improved language skills to play with words, like calling objects or people by the wrong names. Ask "where's your nose?" and your child is likely to point at his or her eyes or chin. Kids this age often like to mispronounce or make up words. Join in ("Billy, can you pass me the falt, I mean the palt, oh, that's right, the salt") and you're likely to get a laugh.
Before long, kids will start replacing words in familiar songs — like singing "Twinkle, twinkle, little cat" — and experimenting with the same song for days or weeks by using new words ("Twinkle, twinkle, little chair" or "Twinkle, twinkle, little mommy").
They might find humor in opposites — asked "where's your room?" and answering "downstairs in the basement" instead of "upstairs"; or repeating in a sing-song way "now it's time for dinner!" when you say "now it's time for breakfast."
Kids this age will also start to tell little tales in a humorous way. You may find your child claiming to have eaten his or her spoon or to have hidden the dog. These stories may or may not be accompanied by a smile — some preschoolers are very deadpan.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
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