All babies love to laugh. Pull a silly face and you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful giggle. But at what stage does he learn he can make you laugh too?
‘Children very often discover humour by accident’, says chartered psychologist Nicola Barber. ‘He may be playing with a toy on his highchair, then drop it. By the amused reaction he gets he realises by doing something in a slightly off-key way, he’ll get an enjoyable response back.’
To really understand humour he needs to be old enough to predict what’s going to happen next. ‘For example, in a simple game like peek-a-boo he knows that even though you’ve gone away you’ll come back,’ says Nicola. ‘Therefore he’s made a prediction and it’s come true.’ Once your child’s raised his first laugh he’ll be hooked. The release of endorphins in the brain when he laughs will make him feel good and help him – and you – feel relaxed.
5 EASY STEPS for sharing books with him
Reading aloud to your child is one of the best things about being a parent
- Store three or four books on a low shelf and put him in charge of getting them out and putting them back. Too many and the choice will be overwhelming for him.
- Read when you’re both relaxed and in a good mood. Stop if he gets restless and try again later. Give him a cuddle – the comfort of being on your lap is all part of the reading experience.
- Show him the book, point to the pictures and read in an excited voice. Talk about the book. Make up your own words, have sing-songs, make animal noises and generally have lots of fun together.
- Let him hold the book if he wants to. Encourage him to turn the pages and don’t worry too much about his books getting tatty just yet.
- He’ll love repetitive books because he’ll be able to anticipate what comes next. This reinforces the connection between spoken language and written words, which will be a vital part of learning to read later in life.
Ask Prima Baby
He’s started hitting
‘My son Henry is 17 months and has started hitting us. Sometimes it’s a pat on the chest when he’s excited, other times he’ll take an open-handed swing at us if he’s tired or doesn’t want something. I’ve tried saying “no” and raising my voice, but he seems to fins the whole thing funny.’
Alex Kolton, 40, from north London, mum to Henry, 17 months, and step-daughter Sarah, 18.
Jo Douglas, child psychologist, replies: ‘He’s frustrated and the quickest way to express this is to act physically. Taking a swing at someone is very effective when you can’t talk very well. As he starts to talk more you can tell him to say “no” when he doesn’t want something, rather than swiping it. Each situation is different and so your reactions need to match the problem. If he hits you when he’s sitting on your lap then immediately put him down and ignore him for a minute. If he’s tired then cuddle him and get him to bed as fast as possible. Try to think about what you’re expecting of him and work out how he might react.’