In the hurly-burly of your daily schedules, and trying to the ‘right thing’ by your kids, you may miss out on the unique joys of being a parent. Sad for you, but worse for her
So, slow down a moment and tell us...
When was the last time you guffawed together with your tween, watching a funny movie? Or shared a laugh over a silly running joke between the two of you?
You’re not alone. This is the story of urban parenting, the world over. Read on to know more, and what you can do (or try to).
Parenting is a full-time job that’s overwhelming, and often downright maddening. With a bazillion other things on your mind, your patience is tested sorely through the day. When things do plummet south, as they are bound to, you often catch yourself projecting your frustrations onto your child.
Sometimes, in the rush of the day-to-day, things get to be so bad that the parent ends up being emotionally unavailable to the child. And as developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth says in her ground-breaking Attachment Theory (1970), ‘responsive parenting’ is the backbone of ensuring secure attachments in your child, and a grounded, confident adult. So what’s to be done?
This Laughter Day, calling all parents to pledge to be responsive to their children’s emotional needs, using humour and laughter as effective parenting tools.
Laughter is (still) the best medicine.
Laughing with your child is more important than you know. Laughing releases feel-good hormones or endorphins in you, relaxes your muscles, reduces stress and boosts your immune response. It also helps you navigate better through life’s choppy waters.
Rod A. Martin, author of The Psychology of Humor: An Integrative Approach, says, “Besides boosting positive emotions and counteracting negative moods like depression and anxiety, humour is thought to be a valuable mechanism for coping with stressful life events and an important social skill for initiating, maintaining and enhancing satisfying interpersonal relationships.”
So, along with ensuring that she eats well, exercises, and focuses on her academics, why not gift her with these invaluable like skills? It’s all as easy as a laugh, too. Literally! Teach her to enjoy a good laugh, and chances are that she will be smiling through life.
For younger children as well, humour is a wonderful tonic. Psychologist Lawrence Cohen in his book Playful Parenting advocates good old-fashioned ‘fun’, “giggling and roughhousing (play fighting)”. Research has it that kids that laugh together and have fun with their parents, are less likely to develop issues in their adult relationships.
Here’s another interesting nugget. Robert R. Provine, in an article in Current Directions in Psychological Science, says that a person laughs 30 times more in the company of another than their own. So when Junior is watching that funny movie with you, both of you laugh that much more.
More endorphins, more joy, more long term life skills being created.
So, what’s there not to laugh?
Set the Scene: Laugh more with your child
- Play make-believe with your little one. Pretend to be a dragon, make trees sing, use your silly voice.
- Watch comedy movies together or read out jokes that you know she will find funny.
- Plan on a special engaging activity once a week. Saturday morning baking; Sunday family karaoke; the Great Malhotra Gamily Badminton Challenge over the long weekend.
- Record the good times together; shoot candid videos of Junior being caught unawares in a funny moment – relive and enjoy together. As Wordsworth said – “recall in tranquillity” and double the fun.
Let’s hear from the parents
Says Mani Sudarshan, a writer and mother of two children aged 8 and 13.
“Sometimes directly confronting my kids doesn’t seem to solve the situation. That’s when I resort to humour and it seems to be working so far. At least it does everyone good, including me!”
Web developer and Dad to a 15-year-old, Jay Aggarwal, feels nothing makes him happier than seeing his little girl laugh at his ‘dad jokes’. He believes that family banter keeps everyone connected and also gives him a chance to momentarily escape the worries of everyday life. He adds, “Of course there is discipline, but incorporating humour into our dynamics has made a world of a difference for me and my wife while parenting our daughter.”
How laughter helps discipline your child
Humour and laughter can be used as a tool to discipline your child by relieving the inherent stress in the situation. It’s also is often more effective. Picture this scenario: Your teen repeatedly dumps his clothes on the floor instead of putting them in the dirty clothes bin. You nag him daily and then one day, when it all gets to be too much for you, you burst out with a loud and long tirade ticking him off. A terrible scene follows. Net result? Nothing concrete achieved.
Here’s what Gargee, mother of Sarthak 13, chose to do in just such a situation: One fine day, she stopped nagging, and instead, created a digital calendar for the month with big squares for each date. She proceeded to mark out sad emojees in the days he had left the clothes on the floor; and smileys for the days he didn’t. At the end of the month she wrote out the math: 28 sad emojees; 2 happy emojees.
Below it all, she added a funny stick figure of herself laid out flat with the sad emojees and clothes all piled on top of her with the caption: ‘This is Mummy, done in.’
Sarthak burst out laughing when he got this on his phone.
And his Mum did see him make more of an effort to be more mindful of helping around the house.
The final takeaway for parents…..
The willingness to laugh at mistakes allows your children to laugh with you and see the humour in situations. By using laughter and humour in your parenting, you can help your children boost their interactive and creative skills, teach them how to cope with sadness and instil a sense of confidence.
Most important: Laughing together, helps you stay connected. And you get to enjoy this never-to-return precious time with the very special person in your life.