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Fostering Humor in Children
March 12, 2019
It is little by little that a bird builds its nest.
-Nigerian Proverb

“If you have ever tried telling a knock-knock joke to an infant, you have realized they do not find you the least bit humorous” writes Nicole J. Dillon in her Exchange article, "What's So Funny?" Dillon outlines the stages children go through as they begin developing a sense of humor throughout the early childhood years. Here are just a few of the milestones she describes:

Infants: “Their brain development does not allow for the processing required to understand jokes [such as knock-knock jokes]…but infants do, however, understand smiles and laughter. They will respond to happy facial expressions by mimicking them.

Toddlers: As infants mature into toddlers and their cognitive and linguistic skills develop, their humor becomes more complex…humor is still found in the unexpected, such as a game of peek-a-boo… As a toddler’s language develops, so does her laughter in response to nonsense words and syllables…

Preschoolers: With preschoolers comes toilet humor. Having gained control over their bodily functions in the toilet learning of toddlerhood, children realize they can play around with the associated words, actions and noises in a way that makes others laugh….”

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