How to Joke Around With Kids
Real Simple asked seven very funny people for ways to get a child giggling (before laughing with you turns to laughing at you).
Funny development: As powerless little creatures who can’t even speak well (if at all) or walk well (if at all), “they love knowing the answer. And it’s even sweeter—and funnier—when they know you’re wrong,” says Los Angeles pediatrician Harvey Karp, the creator of the book and DVD The Happiest Toddler on the Block ($15, amazon.com).
Their comedy hero: You.
Comedy gold: Adults making fools of themselves, or what Karp calls “playing the boob.” Scour the kitchen for a sippy cup that’s clearly in your hand; put a (clean) diaper on your head like it’s the hat of a royal-wedding attendee.
Of course, toddlers are also suckers for “a zerbert [the classic raspberry] to the belly or other kinds of tickling,” Karp says. (Even better: Let them tickle you.) Father of two Bert Kreischer, who specializes in wacky antics as Bert the Conqueror on the Travel Channel, swears by “the soft tickle—usually right above the knee or at the diaper line—along with a funny face.”
If you have a tot who is already grouchy, however, be warned that the cheer-up-and-giggle campaign can go horribly wrong, says Ann Pleshette Murphy, a psychologist and the author of The 7 Stages of Motherhood ($14, amazon.com): “Even at such a young age, trying to cajole them can backfire.” Like tiny kings, toddlers demand to be taken seriously. “If they think you’re making light of what has upset them,” says Murphy, “they’ll end up with even deeper scowls.” (And howls.)