The Development of a Sense of Humor in Childhood

Topics: Theories of humor, Humour, Childhood Pages: 5 (1773 words) Published: May 1, 2013
The Development of a Sense of Humor in Childhood

The Development of a Sense of Humor in Childhood
It is important to develop a sense of humor in childhood. There are many aspects of humor that are developed during childhood and many different ways humor facilitates children’s development. Children at all different ages have different senses of humor. Children learn and express humor through play, and there are many problems that arise from not developing humor in childhood. This paper will explain how humor can help a child socially and how not developing humor can cause children to be rejected by their peers. It also explains a handful of aspects that children go through as they develop humor. When reading this paper you will find that children at different ages have different senses of humor and can express them differently while learning humor through play.

Humor has been characterized as one of the most flexible tools in social interaction, serving a variety of functions including enhancing relationships, increasing or maintaining group cohesion, relieving tension, saving face, and expressing aggression in a socially acceptable way. When dealing with children, humor plays a large role in development and it serves a social and developmental purpose (Rybak, 2013). Humor also assists in the growth of social skills for children with disabilities (Semrud-Clikeman & Glass, 2008). McGhee (1989) referred to humor as a “social lubricant,” which makes social interaction easier and more pleasant. As he expressed, the effective communicator frequently uses humor to attract or maintain attention, and to express views otherwise difficult to communicate (qtd. In Semrud-Clikeman & Glass, 2008). When children have a good sense of humor they can see things from many perspectives other than the most obvious, be spontaneous, grasp unconventional ideas or ways of thinking, see beyond the surface of things, enjoy and participate in the playful aspects of life, and not take themselves too seriously. Kids with a well-developed sense of humor are happier and more optimistic, have higher self-esteem, and can handle differences well. Kids who can appreciate and share humor are better liked by their peers and more able to handle the adversities of childhood- from moving to a new town or teasing. A good sense of humor doesn’t just help kids emotionally or socially, but people who laugh more are healthier- they’re less likely to be depressed and may have an increased resistance to illness or physical problems (Semrud-Clikeman & Glass, 2010).

There are many theories of humor that are developed during childhood. Some theories are superiority, incongruity, relief, and the comprehensive in humor development. The superiority theory is defined as laughter as an expression of a person’s feelings of superiority over other people. An example of this theory is when people laugh at someone with their friends in a negative way to feel superior to the other person. The incongruity theory is an intellectual reaction to something that is unexpected, illogical, or inappropriate in some other way. An example of this theory is when someone falls unexpectedly, people laugh at that reaction. The relief theory is defined as seeing laughter as a venting of nervous energy. An example of this theory is when people laugh from being nervous, like on a job interview. The comprehensive theory is a mixture of all of the previously mentioned theories (Morreall, 1983. P.4, 15, 20, 38).

There are many different ways humor facilitates children’s development. The first aspect in humor development is cognitive development. Children become more capable of enjoying and producing a wider variety of humor as they integrate increasingly richer knowledge and more complex cognitive mechanisms. Incongruity is the basis for a humorous situation or statement. It recognizes that a humorous error is intentional and that it’s designed to entertain. The next aspect of...
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