Parenting is the most important job you will ever have. So go ahead and have fun and be silly. While this may seem like an oxymoron, it is not. In fact, being silly is very serious business.
Let’s face it—kids are silly at heart. It is part of their development as they grow and mature. Somewhere along the line, as adults, we have learned that being silly has negative consequences. Try putting a rubber chicken on your boss’s desk and see what happens.
So it is natural as we “train” our children for adulthood, we teach them not to be so silly, and we certainly don’t partake in it. We are serious about the fact we want to be the best parents we can possibly be. But one of the best things you can do as a parent is to embrace the silliness.
Not only embrace the silliness, but be a part of it. It can have positive ramifications in several crucial areas.
1 | Comfort and Safety
One of the most fundamental aspects of growing up to be a stable adult is the feeling of emotional stability as a child.
Ask yourself one question: have you ever felt emotionally vulnerable or hurt when you are laughing? The answer is no.
Laughter is joy that cannot be contained. It simply busts out of you. And joy is one of the best parts of living. When a chid is feeling joy, he or she is not feeling pain, neglect, confusion, self doubt, or fear.
These are things that can distort the developmental phases of a child which can lead to such things as arrested development and insecurities as an adult. Simply put, a child needs to be a child, and part of being a chid is being silly. And as a parent, when you take part in being silly, you are role modeling that life can be fun, joyous, and happy.
You are role modeling that life is a safe place full of security and acceptance. Children look to their parents for such cues on a daily basis. We set the emotional tone of the household and beyond.
2 | The Ability to Cope With Stress
Related to providing an atmosphere of comfort and safety, being silly also helps your child develop the mechanisms he or she needs to cope with stress.
Life is certainly stressful a large part of the time, and childhood is stressful as well. Childhood is essentially a training period for adulthood, and training is always mixed with uncertainty and potential failures.
Children are constantly pushing through obstacles at every phase of their youth to succeed at any given milestone. As infants, they are learning to communicate their basic needs. As toddlers, they are learning to walk, to talk, and to comprehend. As young children, they learn to read, to go by the rules and to think outside of themselves.
Then they learn to do well in school, to develop an expertise such as sports or music, and to be good citizens. Then they learn social norms, self confidence, and what it means, and takes, to be fulfilled. All of this is stressful to a degree as failure along any path can have lifelong consequences.
Critical self confidence is also at stake. So helping your child relax by being silly puts the bigger picture of goal attainment in proper context.
They understand that life is serious and sometimes scary, but one can have fun along the way. And if one can have fun along the way, the setbacks don’t seem so serious. And if the setbacks don’t seem so serious, children tend to put the setbacks in proper perspective and bounce back more quickly. They are able to fight through obstacles as they have a sense of well being.
Instead of seeing an unpleasant situation as dire, they might even see the humor in the situation, and then things don’t seem so bad.
3 | Bonding
When a child enjoys your company, he or she will go to great lengths to maintain that bond.
As discussed earlier, children are naturally silly. So when you are being silly with him or her, you are meeting them in the space where they reside. And meeting your child where they are is the best way to pull them to the next level.
When a child enjoys your company, he or she will go to great lengths to maintain that bond. And when you have expectations of him or her, they will feel compelled to meet those expectations in order for the bonding and the good times to continue.
You will also develop a level of respect from your child. In allowing your child to be silly and even participating in the silliness, you are sending a message that you are respecting his or her needs. And when someone’s needs are being respected, they tend to reciprocate that respect.
Countless studies in the field of youth development recognize positive outcomes from developing strong relationships with children. And being silly is the best way in building this strong bond.
Communication from your child will also improve as they feel a connection with you. And since they also feel that respect from you, they will feel that you may understand their perspective.
And as we all know, communication about certain issues, especially as they grow older, is the key to keeping your children on the right path.
4 | Positive Discipline and Healthy Choices
Related to bonding but worthy of it’s own category is positive discipline and making healthy choices.
The reason some parents aren’t silly with their children is they are preoccupied with attempting to teach their children to be disciplined. Being silly seems like a contradiction to this important area.
Adherence to the rules is important and parents certainly should not let their children be silly all of the time nor in all situations. There is a time and place for everything. But since you have built a strong relationship with your child on foundations of respect and acceptance, he or she will be more apt to follow your lead and prompts regarding rules and expectations.
Most of the time when a child acts out, it is because a basic need of his or hers is not being met. And since being silly and a close relationship with his or her parent(s) are two very fundamental needs, the chid’s motivation to follow the rules will be greater than the motivation not to.
This extends to adolescence when the child will be faced with choices regarding risky behaviors such as drinking, drugs or early sex.
5 | Creativity
Being silly with your child is a whole, wonderful dimension of its own. It is a place for outside of the box thinking, for puns, and for working the brain through the conduit of unleashed boundaries.
In short, it opens up a new world full of creativity and wonder. How many words can you and your child think of that begin with an “A”? By the 30th word or so you will be thinking of words that are barely words. And you will be having fun dong it.
Your child’s mind will be on overdrive in thinking of various solutions. He or she will be having fun and they will not realize the extent of their brain activity. This creative thinking will become second nature and will become a part of how they approach problems in the future as they have been positively conditioned to think abstractly and differently.
Their future bosses will certainly appreciate their creative solutions to the ever present problems. So even if they ever put a rubber chicken on their boss’s desk, they might even be given a pass!
These are just a few benefits of the many that your chid will receive from just having fun with you and they are all interconnected.
As parents, we can benefit from it as well. Life is difficult as a parent and sometimes it is hard to break out of a goal attainment mode, being preoccupied and a mindset of solving all of life’s problems. But if you let yourself go and let yourself be in the moment with your child, your silly side will come out.
You will see the benefits of decompression, relaxation, feeling close with your child, and knowing you are having an impact. So it is indeed a win/win situation.
Your love will grow with your child and both of you will form more capability to enjoy life’s journey.