Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Talk about inappropriate humor.

What you can do

Help your child evaluate when humor is and isn’t appropriate. Point out how humor is great for making friends. It can also be an effective way to respond to teasing.

Discuss inappropriate humor too. Explain why a specific joke might hurt someone’s feelings. Talk about how jokes can backfire. Use TV shows and other resources to practice together, deciding whether a joke is helpful or hurtful.

What you can say

“Sofia, you have a wonderful sense of humor. It’s certainly one of the reasons your friends like being with you. Making someone laugh is a great gift to give them, as long as it doesn’t make anyone feel bad. Always think how your humor will make everyone feel.”

“A good strategy is to avoid using bad language or making fun of an individual or group. When you meet new people, give them a chance to get used to your sense of humor. Sometimes it’s best to be a bit more serious in the beginning of a relationship, and then bring in more of your humor as you get to know each other.”

Why this will help

Learning to think before you speak is an essential social skill. It’s also very important to be able to see things from another person’s perspective. Good use of humor draws heavily on both of these skills.

Being funny is nice. But it’s not the primary quality most people want to be known for. Caring about and helping others are more important characteristics. Reinforcing this message will help your child steer clear of making off-putting jokes. Remind her of this handy little phrase: “When in doubt, leave it out.”

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