MIND YOUR MANNERS : Laugh like a baby

One characteristic of a healthy person is their ability to laugh at themselves. Emotionally healthy people know that to do so does not mean they are dumb, does not mean they are a failure and does not mean that they have little of value to offer. Being able and willing to laugh at themselves may mean that they know they are not perfect, but for a healthy person, that’s okay. While they respect themselves, they have also learnt not to take themselves too seriously.

Have you ever noticed how a baby just learning to stand reacts when he falls? Usually he will look to see how all those big people around him respond, and then will react accordingly. His little “sponge-like brain” seems to be thinking, “How am I supposed to react to this? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry! Should I feel foolish, or is this funny?” When we laugh, they are likely to laugh. When we react in horror, as if they’ve just permanently damaged themselves, then they will have a much more serious response. How seriously do we take ourselves? Are we able to chuckle at our own trivial mistakes, or do we model a seriousness that sends a message of self-depreciation rather than self-acceptance? Certainly, we need to distinguish between making fun of our kids, and laughing with them over their silly blunders and mistakes. Ridicule has no place and is not a part of teaching them the fine art of not taking themselves too seriously. But if we want our kids to grow up liking who they are and if it is our goal to raise great kids, then it is important that we laugh a lot with them; not just with them and at themselves in a playful manner, but with them and at ourselves as well.