Sometimes kids are just funny. They don’t even try to be, they just are. Other times they’re not funny at all, not in the least. Then there are the days they crack themselves up and we don’t want to hear it — “Wipe that smile off your face!”
Fact is, most families could use a lot more humor and a lot less angst, more smiles and fewer tears, better jokes, funnier stories, a serious reduction in yelling, and lots more belly-laughs.
We’re not advocating flippancy, “turn that frown upside down” triteness, or a style of parenting that would rather tell a joke than deal with an issue. There is way too much tension in too many homes especially where teens are involved. A family that laughs together is at a real advantage.
But, there are a few things we can do as All Pro Dads to tip the scale in favor of funny once in a while. Here are 10 ways to teach your children to be funny:
1. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
Watch yourself objectively for a while, take note of how often you nag, lecture or browbeat. Now take a chill pill. Try smiling more often. Lighten up already!
2. Research a “joke of the day” online and share with the family at dinner.
We’re not all natural funny guys, but we can be taught. They say charity begins at home. Well, funny can start with Dad.
3. Assign “joke of the day” duty to the kids.
Don’t hog the glory. Practice makes perfect. Coach them before dinner if that helps. Once laughter is introduced as the main course, who knows where this train will roll?
4. Explain that making people laugh is a gift that’s appreciated more than skill at sports, rock star status or even money.
Tell them about that, tell them that you’re serious about it, pause a moment, and then—casually—fall out of your chair.
5. Tell stories on yourself.
Help the kids understand that being happy is more important than being perfect. Share your weaknesses, share a chuckle, begin to steer a course that declares the following as a family value: “I’m doing my best, but when things don’t go right it’s not so much the end of the world as it is the beginnings of a good story.”
6. Make sure your kids understand that good humor doesn’t tear down—it builds up.
There’s a lot of harsh humor in this world, and people who put others down by making fun. Help the kids understand that it takes more creativity, wit and intelligence to be funny and kind at the same time. It may not be okay to laugh at others—but it’s a fine thing to laugh at yourself. It sounds paradoxical, but people who can laugh at themselves win friends and confidence.
7. Every time something bad happens, help the kids look at the lighter side.
Flat tire? Tell the kids you’re thankful because you needed the exercise. Can’t afford family vacation this year? Tell the children how excited you are to be stimulating the local economy. Good humor isn’t always about cracking a joke; sometimes it’s simply being deliberate about maintaining a good mood.
8. Watch great comedies together as a family—both small and big screen.
Have a family “laugh until you cry” marathon at least once a month. Laughing together is a parenting tool that’s around a thousand times more effective as laughing alone.
9. Initiate a “Make Somebody Laugh” campaign at home.
Draw names. This week so-and-so has to make so-and-so laugh by Tuesday. The winner picks the next comedy. Be creative.
10. Know where to draw the line.
Never forget that humor is not an escape from dealing with the serious stuff. Humor makes it easier to deal with the serious stuff. That note from school is not/cannot be funny. But, if you were laughing together all week, it’s sure to be a little less painful to deal with.
Huddle up with your kids tonight and tell them 3 of your favorite jokes.