Let the Good Times Roll
Are you raising a future Seinfeld? Unless you're Jerry himself, probably not. But having a good sense of humor is much more important than just having the ability to tell funny jokes. It's a frame of mind that allows you to see the lighter side of life. "Humor transforms reality to help us cope with stressful experiences," says Tom Cottle, PhD, a psychologist in Boston. Identifying and enjoying the sillier stuff in life makes it easier to handle tougher times.
Three-year-old Jackson Filosa used his sense of humor to manage the fear and anxiety that loomed large when his mother, Tracy, had to go out of town to Maine. He put on her hat and exclaimed, "I'm going to Maine!" before she left for the airport. "He did it to make us all smile, and it worked like magic," says Tracy, who lives in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Humor also plays an enormous role in self-esteem. "Since children with a good sense of humor tend to be more popular and form friendships more readily, they generally feel better about themselves," explains McGhee. And let's not forget the healing power of humor; a child who can make a friend laugh when she's feeling blue is one who understands the importance of empathy and sympathy. Similarly, a child who can laugh at himself when he makes a mistake has an easier time accepting imperfection and is less afraid to attempt the task again.