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How do I develop my child’s sense of humour?

Babies and children develop by copying how people round them act and behave. The same goes for sense of humour. Studies show that children develop a sense of humour from 18 months old! But parents must also express their sense of humour to fuel development.

18 month olds can tell when parents joke often because our tone of voice is different when we’re to when we’re being serious. Make the child’s environment an enjoyable, relaxed space where they can laugh: they’ll find it far easier to spot fun times.

By watching and primarily by listening to you, your children will be able to tell the difference between a joke and a mistake and will then be able to share happy and funny times with you. Make the most of interactions with them whilst they’re still small: pull faces, play peek-a-boo… these are some of the ways that they will get used to laughing with you.

As they grow up, your child will explore other forms of humour based on words: rhymes, misinterpretations, riddles. Feel free to tell them jokes yourself so that they have examples they can put their imagination into and develop their own sense of humour. Make sure you’re a good audience too: humour is all about confidence so when parents laugh, children feel encouraged and continue to make jokes. Also show them funny films and books to give them a “culture of humour” that’s both verbal and visual: it’s funny when Charlie Chaplin falls off his chair.

Make the most of family play time to teach your children – and yourself – about improvisation. There are lots of games involving miming, drawing and guessing words. There are so many chances to laugh and unleash their sense of humour.

When your child starts to verbalise their humour, be sure to explain that some words can shock certain people and that not all jokes work for everyone. Just like social interaction, humour is earned!


  • Sense of humour appears at 18 months old
  • Your child’s environment plays an essential part in developing their sense of humour
  • Humour also involves confidence: be a good audience!
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