Get Your Family Laughing

Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
—Victor Borge, musical entertainer

Laugh. Giggle. Squeal. Howl. You want your home to be a place of laughter and levity. But how do you infuse more laughter in your family—especially when everyone is so busy? Consider these ideas.

Tips for . . .

  • all parents
    • Make time for fun. With busy schedules, it’s easy to focus only on the to-do list rather than the for-fun stuff.
    • Notice what makes you laugh. See what makes your kids laugh. Tickle. Horse around. Be silly. Be more intentional about finding sources of laughter.
    • Try to infuse some gentle teasing into your time with your kids. If they like it, they’ll draw closer to you. If they don’t, they’ll pull away. Use their reaction to gauge how you try to tickle the funny bone. Dacher Keltner, a psychology expert, wrote a thought-provoking article about the upside of teasing in The New York Times called In Defense of Teasing.
    • parents with children ages birth to 5
    • Use your happy face. Smile at your young child. Make exaggerated expressions (the ones that make your child giggle).
    • Follow the squeals. Notice what makes your young child howl with delight. Then keep doing things (such as acting like a chimp or a goofy monster) that keep your child laughing.
    • Nothing makes a young child laugh more than a fun game of chase. Clear an area and tell your child that you’re “going to get her” before chasing her down.
    • parents with children ages 6 to 9
    • Pull out the knock-knock jokes and riddles. Kids at this age think these are quite funny—especially the silly ones.
    • Find children’s books that get kids laughing. Read aloud books such as Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman, Cha-Cha Chimps by Julia Durango, and Ducks Don’t Wear Socks by John Nedwidek.
    • Start a goofy family tradition. Find an unusual, silly item, such as a beanbag cow and hide it around your home for your child to find. Place a funny message on it, such as “Have you mooed today?” or “Everyone needs a lucky cow.” After awhile, your child may be writing silly notes and hiding it for you as well.
    • parents with children ages 10 to 15
    • Ask your child what makes him or her laugh. Don’t be surprised if it’s burping the ABCs—or counting to 10 in Spanish while inhaling in a goofy voice.
    • If you surf the net, you can find funny YouTube videos that you and your kids can watch together. Most of the time if you google “funny” and the name of an animal, such as a “cat,” “dog,” or “chicken,” you’ll find something that makes you laugh.
    • Kids at this age love to experiment with hairstyles, so let them style your hair (don’t be shocked if they want to give you a mud treatment—or color your hair purple with a temporary hair color).
    • parents with children ages 16 to 18
    • Older teens often enjoy irony and satire, which is why late-night comedy resonates with them. Ask them to share something funny they’ve discovered lately.
    • For those who enjoy current events, the newsweekly The Week has a lot of short articles about funny current events, such as the man who used a blow torch to remove snow from his driveway (because he was tired of shoveling) and ended up burning down his garage instead. Visit The Week at
  • Share some of the things that make you laugh. Older teens often are looking for humor, and they like it when Mom or Dad has a nose for what’s funny.

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