Four-year-olds can understand irony

Researchers previously thought children could only appreciate sarcasm when they reached the age of 10

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Children can develop a sophisticated understanding of irony and sarcasm by the age of four, new research has revealed.

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While previous studies had suggested that children under the age of 10 might not understand irony, many youngsters develop an understanding of non-literal language before they start primary school, reports the Telegraph.

Researchers studied the homes of 39 two-child families and monitored how mums and dads engaged with their children using different types of non-literal language, including, sarcasm and irony.

They discovered that all but one of the children in the study understood at least one ironic remark that their mum and dad made.

“Children’s understanding of complex communication is more sophisticated than we believed in the past,” said Stephanie Alexander, who led the research.

“Using appropriate language can help defuse a potentially explosive situation,” explained Stephanie.

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