How to make your tod­dler laugh

A lit­tle laugh­ter goes a long way when you share your life with a tod­dler, writes Court­ney Thomp­son on be­half of Fisher-price

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

TOD­DLERS ARE TRICKY char­ac­ters. They’re emo­tional and de­mand­ing, lov­ing and cud­dly, and hopelessly de­voted to us par­ents. That said, they can lose it at the most in­op­por­tune times (at the gro­cery store, get­ting on a plane) and for the most un­ex­pected rea­sons (mis­matched socks). As a mom to three kid­dos un­der the age of four, I know a thing or two about tantrums. But I also have a few tricks that are guar­an­teed to make those tiny tots dis­solve into fits of laugh­ter just when it feels like the go­ing is about to get tough. Here’s my fool­proof list of laugh­ables:

Rhyme time See you later, al­li­ga­tor. Give me a hug, la­dy­bug. Get out that door, di­nosaur! These rhymes – and end­less oth­ers I cre­ate on the fly – never cease to make my kid­dos break into gig­gles. They love hear­ing me play with words they know and un­der­stand, and they also love re­peat­ing what I say and how I say it, which ranges from a boom­ing mon­ster tone to a sing-song falsetto voice de­pend­ing on my mood.

Put your silly pants on Prior to be­com­ing a mom I sat at a desk, read emails all day, and went to meet­ings. But it wasn’t un­til I had my own kids that I truly grasped the depths of my own silli­ness. For ex­am­ple, di­a­per hat – yes, wear­ing a nappy on my head as a hat – is a sure-fire way to make my kids burst out laugh­ing.

An­other favourite? Pre­tend­ing their foot is a phone, di­alling a num­ber into their sole and talk­ing into their heel. “Hello, Santa? This is Mama. Rosie wants un­der­pants for Christ­mas. Bye-bye.” Cue: Howls of laugh­ter. An­other sure bet: Mak­ing your pet talk. My 3-year-old daugh­ter is sharp as a tack, yet when I make our dog talk to her (“What’s the mat­ter, Rosie? You wanna snug­gle me?”) she whole­heart­edly be­lieves the dog is speak­ing, and al­ways bursts out laugh­ing. My hus­band takes the silly fac­tor to an­other level that I can’t even bring my­self to, when he does his best chicken dance. It turns out that si­mul­ta­ne­ously clap­ping, scis­sor­ing your legs and yelling “cock-a-doo­dle-doo” is a fool­proof way to get kids of all ages to laugh hys­ter­i­cally when you’re tak­ing a photo. Is your tod­dler about to blow his top over wear­ing a rain­coat? Pre­tend you’re a go­rilla and scoop him up while run­ning around your house. That should do the trick.

Peek-a-boo 2.0 I’ve spent dozens of hours of my life play­ing peek-a-boo with ba­bies. It’s time well spent, but man, it gets old fast. I loved when my ba­bies be­came tod­dlers, be­cause it meant we could ac­tu­ally in­ter­act more, com­mu­ni­cate with each other, and – oh right, be­cause it meant they’re old enough for me to scare the wits out of them. One of my favourite tac­tics dur­ing play­time is to run down a hall, tod­dlers in tow chas­ing me, and then vis­i­bly “hide” be­hind a cor­ner. My kids turn into elec­tri­fied ma­ni­acs when they know they are about to be star­tled and they can barely stand the an­tic­i­pa­tion of my loud, dra­matic “BOO!” when it comes. They also love scar­ing me in re­turn, which I re­act to with an over-the-top, falling­down, faint­ing-type of re­sponse that they eat up.

Dance party Noth­ing kills time in my house quite like a good dance party – all of my ba­bies like to get down. What they es­pe­cially like is to see my moves. And to be hon­est, prior to hav­ing kids, most of my danc­ing was done in bars after sev­eral beers. So to be putting my best moves on dis­play at 11am on a Tues­day in my kitchen – well, there is a learn­ing curve. But ev­ery time I side-step or do the Run­ning Man, my ef­forts are met with fits of gig­gles from my tiny au­di­ence.

Wres­tle fest I usu­ally re­serve wrestling for that end­less sea of time be­tween din­ner and bath, when, if left to their own de­vices, my kids will fight non­stop over toys. The key to suc­cess­ful wres­tle time (read: no tears) is car­pet and pil­lows in an open space away from hard fur­ni­ture.

Once you’ve got that down, it’s time to tackle your tod­dlers, blow rasp­ber­ries on their bel­lies, tickle their feet and pep­per them with kisses un­der their chins. Laugh­ter will en­sue from the get-go, and I of­ten find my­self howl­ing, es­pe­cially at the sight of my two-year-old son fly­ing in the air to tackle me. YB

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