Toddlers learn better when you make them giggle

Posted on June 11, 2015

Photo: flickr

There is probably nothing more fun than making a baby or toddler laugh. And now there's news that it could even help with learning - the toddler's not the adult's.

In the first study to look at the effects of humour on learning at such a young age, Rana Esseily and her colleagues began by showing 53 18-month-olds how to reach a toy duck with a cardboard rake (other toddlers who'd spontaneously used the rake as a reaching tool were excluded). Crucially, half the participating toddlers were given several non-humorous demonstrations of how to use the rake to reach and pull the duck nearer. In these straight demonstrations, the experimenter was smiley, but just played with the duck for a bit after getting hold of it. The other toddlers were given several humorous demonstrations. In this case, after getting hold of the duck, the experimenter suddenly threw it on the floor and smiled. Sixteen of the 37 toddlers in the jokey condition laughed at least once when shown the funny demonstrations.

"Our results suggest that laughing might be a stimulant of learning even during the second year of life," the researchers concluded. However, they conceded that there are other possible interpretations of their findings.

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Category(s):Child Development

Source material from British Psychological Society

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