Why did the baby cross the road? Because his stroller was going that way, and he didn’t have much choice!
As your toddler grows, so does his sense of humor, and that sense of humor is growing in direct correspondence with his understanding of the world. Humor comes from understanding norms and the surprise that comes when those norms are broken. Think of your favorite jokes. Chances are, they rely on a word being interpreted in a way it normally wouldn’t, someone saying something out loud that social conventions would usually leave unspoken, or something that’s goofy because it reveals a sideways or nonsensical view of reality.
Toddlers’ senses of humor are much the same, it’s just that they’re still learning what the norms are before they can break them. This is why so many young children enjoy potty humor – they’ve only just learned that potty-talk can be taboo, which is why bathroom humor strikes them as being so funny. Your little one is learning more and more about the world every day, and with each new thing he learns, the scope of his sense of humor expands. You can encourage his sense of humor in many ways, from telling jokes yourself to laughing at theirs – and by playing games that play off this idea of the unexpected.
The “What’s wrong with this picture?” game
At its heart, the “What’s wrong with this picture?” game is a cross between peek-a-boo and the “What’s different?” activities in kids’ magazines that put two almost identical pictures side by side and asks kids to pick out the differences.
It’s a simple game, and you can play it anywhere, anytime – have Baby put his hands over his eyes (no peeking!), do something silly (like wearing something that should not be a hat on your head, turning the book you’re reading upside down, or putting a pair of Baby’s socks over your ears), and then have him open his eyes and tell you what’s different.
This kind of game can help reinforce Baby’s understanding of norms and when those norms get broken – after all, he can’t tell a book is upside down unless he knows what right-side up is – and is also a great way to get those giggles going!