Laughter is the Best Medicine: How to Be Happy and Healthy as a Family

Preschool boy smiling at woman

We have all experienced the benefits of good, hearty laughter. Among other health advantages, laughter can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, boost your immune system, and increase memory, alertness and creativity. If laughter is good for individuals, it must be good for building a healthy family. Families that laugh together also tend to be happy, healthy families that enjoy being together and support each other in fun times and hard times.

With the many demands of daily life—preparing healthy lunches and snacks, going to school and work, washing clothes, driving to extracurricular activities—who has time for fun? Busy as we are, it is worth figuring out how to build some fun into your family's life on a regular basis. Whether it’s singing silly songs in the car or telling jokes while you wait for your food at a restaurant, it's important to find time to laugh together. Here are a few ideas to laugh more and build a happy & healthy family.

How to Laugh Everyday with Your Family

  1. Be silly. Make exaggerated mistakes and let your child correct you. "This is a shirt? I thought it was called a zirt!" Or call the dog by the cat's name, and let your child set you straight.
  2. Try gentle roughhousing. Use a timer and set it for a short time like 2 minutes. Offer only gentle resistance and let your child win. Falling down in an exaggerated way with only light touch, similar to what clowns do, can get your kids to laugh more without much effort.
  3. Make senseless songs. You can do this by substituting silly words in your child's favorite songs. "Old McDonald had a farm ... and on that farm he had a hippopotamus." Let your child correct you - "There aren't hippos on a farm!"
  4. Help build a sense of humor. Buy a children’s joke book and teach your child some simple "Knock, Knock" jokes. Helping your children build a sense of humor will not only encourage your whole family to laugh more but also show the value of laughter, which can help them overcome adversity in the future.
  5. Read funny books. Children often find incongruity funny (a lion who likes the library, for example). They also enjoy books that include the fun of word play and silly rhyming. See below for some favorite children’s books from editions of the Growing Readers Review.

Funny Books for Toddlers

Funny Books for Preschoolers

Funny Books for School-Age Children

Sometimes it will be hard for the adults to "get" why children find things funny. Children's sense of humor is forming and they may laugh at different things than you do. In order to create a healthy and happy family environment, learn to accept and appreciate their individual sense of humor.

Tips to Remember When Making Someone Laugh

  1. Be ready to laugh at yourself. Mistakes that children make can sometimes feel embarrassing. It may feel therapeutic to your child if you purposefully make similar mistakes, and he or she occasionally gets to laugh at you. For example, if your child is struggling to use scissors, you struggle too and show your crooked cutting. Create a healthy family environment by allowing your child to laugh with you about your imperfection.
  2. Avoid tickling. Look for ways that make your child laugh that he or she is in control of. Follow your child's lead.
  3. Don't be discouraged. Remember that there is often a fine line between laughter and tears. Sometimes a fun activity can turn to tears when someone gets a minor bump or scrape or gets their feelings hurt. That doesn't mean that the activity wasn't fun or successful. Instead, it means that the laughter helped your child to feel safe enough to show deeper feelings.

Laughter is a great way to keep your family close, healthy and happy. Look for opportunities to incorporate laughter into your daily life.

More on Happy, Healthy Families

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About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
Preschool boy smiling at woman