Introducing… Elements of a Confident Kid
In addition to my weekly article containing research and strategies on promoting social and emotional skills in busy family life, I will be adding a weekly series entitled “Elements of a Confident Kid.” To date, researchers do not agree on a single definition of confidence but we certainly know what it looks like when we see it. I choose “confidence” for the cornerstone of this site since it encapsulates all of the attributes we want for our children as we prepare them for their independent lives and what we want for ourselves as we parent — mistakes, sure, but no regrets. Psychologists and other social scientists do widely agree on the components that make up a confident person. Each week, I will work on further defining what it means to raise a confident kid using the structure of the Periodic Table. Each entry will define one quality or attribute (“element”) of a confident kid and offer one strategy for promoting it in a family. I hope you will contribute to the dialogue by sharing what the elements mean in your home and ways you promote them. Check out the first one below. And thanks in advance for reading, sharing and contributing!
: a funny or amusing quality
: jokes, funny stories, etc., or a particular kind
: the ability to be funny or to be amused by things that
About Humor: Psychologists have for many years been trying to figure out what makes people laugh. The Humor Code2 published this past spring claims to have identified a theory called the benign violation theory to explain how humor works. The idea is that the joke breaks a convention from our expectations but still feels safe. And how does a person develop a sense of humor? Though we are still not certain, it’s likely a nature and nurture proposition. We are born with the DNA makeup to support a sense of humor and our environment gives us practice and reinforces that ability. It’s not surprising that families who value and use humor produce more humorous children.
Strategy to Promote Humor at Home: When was the last time your family laughed together? Can you quickly remember a time? How long ago was it? Yesterday? Last week? Last year? Thinking about what makes your family laugh and then looking for those opportunities is probably the best way you can promote humor. Sharing the experience together will offer modeling and practice. Games, joke books, singing karaoke and video taping ourselves are all ways our family laughs together. My son’s favorite joke is, “What do you say to the giant polar bear wearing headphones on his ears?”
Answer: “Anything you want. He can’t hear you.”
Why Promote Humor? Humor can offer individuals resilience in hard times. It can become a powerful coping strategy. Humor can also connect people to one another whether it’s a brand new friendship or a long-term relationship.
The Confident Kid Brand of Humor: Of course there are a few kinds of humor that do not promote a confident kid so it’s worth mentioning. Humor that is demeaning of others teaches children how to be hurtful through humor. Some children and adults use humor in this manner and it can be evidence of a lack of self-worth. In addition, sarcasm is a common form of humor that slips easily into everyday language. It’s often used to connect with others. But for children, sarcasm can teach dishonesty and breed mistrust. After all, children cannot discern sarcastic comments from literal ones but they feel the misleading nature of the comment. It can be confusing and difficult for children to understand. Confident parents and kids use humor that all can enjoy and does not harm others.
1. Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online. Retrieved from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/humor on 8-26-14.
2. McGraw, P., & Warner, J. (2014). The Humor Code: A Global Search for What Makes Things Funny. NY, NY: Simon & Schuster.