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Posts Tagged ‘Healthy Living’

2023 words with the ocean and sunset behind the words 2023.

As we start the new year, this is a perfect time to look at our perspectives on our health and well-being. 2023 brings new possibilities especially when it comes to our health and wellness routines. After the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, many people start out highly motivated and determined that this year things will improve. However, within about six weeks, motivation dwindles.

Many times, it is challenging to know where to begin. So, if you are feeling unsure how to start, I suggest you consider small strategies that will help you achieve your goal throughout the entire year.

Here are strategies to consider for the new year.

Aim to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables. Approximately one in 10 adults are meeting this recommendation. Start by choosing one new fruit or vegetable each week to add more color to your diet

the year 2023 numbers created with fritys and vegetables

Buy pre-cut fruits and vegetables. These are convenient and an effortless way to encourage you to choose fruits and vegetables when you are hungry. Check your local ads for sale items and utilize coupons while grocery shopping.

Volunteer at a local community site. Community engagement by volunteering your time can positively impact your mental health. Your health begins with mental health.

7 women smiling and wearing gray shirts with white writing with the word VOLUNTEER on their shirts.

Aim for 30 minutes of activity every day. Our bodies are meant to move. Activity promotes good circulation, which allows cells and substances of the immune system to move through the body freely and do their job efficiently. Movement increases metabolism. Non-movement leads to impaired blood circulation and decreased metabolism. Remember some movement is better than no movement.

Sit less, stand moretry having a walking meeting or stand more during the day. Choosing to sit less and move more provides benefits our health, mind, and body.

Move for 2-5 minutes every hour. Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Moving more will support bone health, enhance brain power, burn calories, and increase circulation.

Start your day in a positive way. Try to listen to a positive podcase in the morning or read 5 to 10 minutes in a positive book. Try positive affirmations the morning.

Make one slight small change for your wellness this year. Whether it is from a movement perspective, a nutrition standpoint, or a mental health space. Put your goal in writing. WRITE IT DOWN! Share your change with a friend or family member to hold you more accountable. One small change can help you be a healthier person in 2023.

Author: Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, M. Ed., OSU Extension Wood County

Reviewer : Casey Bishop, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, MACP, OSU Extension Paulding County

Resources:

https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/

Human Performance Institute, Inc (2018), Johnson and Johnson.

 Webinar “A Healthier You in 2023” by Dr Megan Amaya, Associate Clinical Professor, Director of Health Promotion & Wellness, Co- Director, Bachelor of Science and Health & Wellness, The Ohio State University, College of Nursing, December 14, 2022.

https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/February-2022/How-Volunteering-Improves-Mental-Health

https://www.juststand.org/the-facts/

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The holiday season is a magical time of year, yet for many, the holidays bring stress, anxiety, conflict and even heartache.   Often stress starts at Thanksgiving and runs through the New Year.    Holiday triggers, can create internal and external forces influencing our mind and body, creating stress and anxiety during the holiday season.    Give yourself the gift of a stress-free holiday by being aware of common holiday triggers and learning ways to cope with holiday stress.

 Be aware of these common holiday triggers:

  • Increased expectations:  Choosing which family member’s gatherings to attend after years of unresolved conflict and finding ways to dodge the uncomfortable conversations at the holiday table is stressful.  We often feel pressured to meet the expectations of others.
  • Financial strain:  Wanting to create the perfect holiday experience comes with a price tag that affects our finances often into the New Year.
  • Time management concerns:  Balancing work, family, friends, and additional commitments is more challenging than ever this time of year!
  • Eating concerns:  For those with any kind of negative relationship with food the holiday focus on food is triggering. The food pushers who do not take no for an answer when offering food is overwhelming.  Eat mindfully, have a game plan and if necessary, remind your family that your eating habits are not up for discussion.

Ways to Cope with Holiday Stress:

  • Connect with those you trust and are comfortable with.  A support system is always important, especially this time of year.
  • Practice empathy and compassion for yourself and others. Give yourself grace when you need it, remember everyone has their own struggles.
  • Try not to set unrealistic expectations of yourself.  Establish boundaries and do not be afraid to say no.  Create a holiday spending plan.
  • Set a schedule for shopping, cooking and holiday activities.  Make a to-do list helps visualize and manage your time.
  • Continue healthy habits.  It is alright to indulge in some of the holiday treats,  remember to keep your physical health a priority.
  • Adopt one or two mindful exercise that work for you (deep breathing, visualization, stretching).

Be kind to yourself this holiday.  Practice self-compassion.  Spend time with your favorite people, books, hobbies, movies and say “no” to anything that does not make you happier.    Have a wonderful stress-free holiday!

Written by: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shari Gallup, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

References:

Holiday Depression Triggers What Causes Holiday Blues? (webmd.com)

10 Common Holiday Stresses and How to Cope With Them | Psychology Today

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Woman cooking with a skillet, surrounded by thought bubbles including the phrases "Small bites", "Slow down:", "Remove distractions" and "Use your senses".

What exactly is mindfulness? The definition would include a description of being conscious and aware or fully aware of yourself in the present moment. Therefore, mindfulness can also be incorporated into mealtimes. As the holiday season has commenced and festivities surrounding food are plentiful, practicing mindful eating can help you get through the feasts, focusing more on how you feel rather than what you are eating.

Unlike typical diets, mindful eating focuses on the sensual awareness and experience of food rather than restricting or removing it. Practicing mindful eating is about becoming more aware of your eating habits and listening to signals the body provides, such as feelings of hunger, fullness, and satiety. When practicing, you consciously choose to be fully present with your meal—paying attention to the process of eating and how you feel in response, without judgment. Eating should be a pleasant experience, and meals should be enjoyed, especially during the holidays. Mindful eating encourages you to be fully engaged during mealtime, allowing the moment and food consumed to be savored and reducing the negative feelings associated with restricting or overeating.

While the chaotic holiday season can frequently lead to binge eating, overeating, and stress eating. However, if you allow yourself to be fully present at mealtimes, you will be more likely to appreciate the food on your plate, take more time to eat, and be more in tune with the body signaling its satiety. If you are interested in the practice, consider the following techniques gathered from research on mindful eating:

  • Eat slower – take more time to chew and take breaks between bites to evaluate your feelings and thoughts on the meal.
  • Eat away from distractions such as the television or other electronics – distractions can cause mindless eating. Removing them can aid in determining triggers and allow for reflection.
  • Become aware of your body’s hunger cues and let those guide your choices on when to begin and stop eating – our brains may not signal fullness for up to 20 minutes, so take time to determine your level of satisfaction before going back for seconds or dessert.
  • Use all your senses when eating – focus on the appearance, smell, and flavors of all foods you eat to appreciate the nourishment you are providing your body.

Besides promoting better enjoyment and appreciation for food, mindful eating has been proven to aid in weight management and provide various health benefits. Studies have also suggested positive outcomes for those with chronic disease and eating disorders, but practicing mindfulness is advantageous for everyone!

Trying anything new for the first time can be difficult. Mindful eating is a practice that requires patience and continuous training to develop, but there are resources available to help you progress. While beginning your practice of mindful eating to prepare for seasonal gatherings is an ideal starting point, you will likely develop long-lasting skills and habits that will benefit you long after the hectic holiday season ends.

Sources:

Cleveland Clinic. (2022). What is Mindful Eating? https://health.clevelandclinic.org/mindful-eating/

Mathieu, J. (2009). What Should You Know about Mindful and Intuitive Eating? Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.jandonline.org/article/S0002-8223(09)01699-X/fulltext

Nelson J. B. (2017). Mindful Eating: The Art of Presence While You Eat. Diabetes spectrum: a publication of the American Diabetes Association. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5556586/#:~:text=Mindful%20eating%20(i.e.%2C%20paying%20attention,carbohydrates%2C%20fat%2C%20or%20protein.

Written by Kylee Tiziani, Bluffton University dietetic intern, with edits by Jennifer Little, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Hancock County

Reviewed by Susan Zies, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Wood County

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a child holding a toothbrush

Concerned about your child’s teeth? If so, you are not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic childhood diseases in the United States. Even kids who have had early intervention and brush well may be susceptible to oral health issues at some point. However, following these tips may significantly impact your child’s overall health and wellbeing.

Many parents wonder “what is the right age to take my child to the dentist”?  According to America’s Pediatric Dentists children should visit a dentist when their first tooth appears or no later than their first birthday. A routine visit should become part of your child’s wellness schedule just like going to the pediatrician.  Prior to the first visit parents can wipe their baby’s gums with a soft, clean cloth to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria. To prevent baby bottle tooth decay, do not allow your child to sleep with a bottle of anything other than water.

Once your child’s teeth emerge, use an infant toothbrush which will have soft bristles and just a smear of fluoride toothpaste. After age 3, a pea-sized amount of toothpaste should be used when brushing. Talk to your dentist about the need for additional protection including fluoride treatments.

Children younger than age 8 should continue to be monitored while brushing to ensure they are reaching all teeth and not swallowing toothpaste. Brushing at least twice a day and flossing is a good start to fighting cavities (AKA dental caries). KidsHealth also suggests limiting sugary sticky foods like gummies which can cause bacteria buildup and erode enamel.

If your child has an accident that involves the mouth or teeth, call your dentist right away. Because injuries to the face and teeth are likely to increase each year from age 1 to 6, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital recommends taking the following precautions:

  • Always use a properly sized car seat for your child.
  • Child-proof sharp corners of tables and windowsills.
  • Place safety railings on beds and put gates in front of stairs.
  • Prevent injuries by moving furniture out of the way to make clear paths for walking. One of the most common areas for injury is a coffee table.
  • Make sure your child uses a mouth guard for sports such as in-line skating, bike riding, soccer, basketball, football and scooters.

It’s never too late to start caring for your child’s teeth. Regular dental visits and preventative care can help your child to have a healthy smile for a lifetime!

Writer: Heather Reister, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County

Reviewer: Jenny Lobb, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

Sources:

All about fluoride: Updated clinical report covers caries prevention in primary care, November 2020, American Academy of Pediatrics, https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/7429/All-about-fluoride-Updated-clinical-report-covers

Children’s Oral Health, April 2022, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/oralhealth/basics/childrens-oral-health/index.html

Keeping Your Child’s Teeth Healthy, June 2018, Nemours KidsHealth, https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/healthy.html?ref=search

Why is Dental Health Important?, July 2021, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, https://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/d/dental-health

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At a recent professional development conference for the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences in Raleigh, North Carolina I was able to take part in an in-depth tour of a family operated produce farm in Princeton, North Carolina. While I attended many great sessions at the conference, it was a tour “Locally Sweet: Understanding Local in a Global Food Market” that I told everyone about when I returned to Ohio. We were fortunate to have a tour of the Kornegay Family Farms & Produce facility by Kim Kornegy LaQuire. At this multigeneration operated family farm they grow sweetpotatoes, watermelon, corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat, and butternut squash on 6,000 acres. Kim told us that she is a farmer “who sits behind a desk.” She runs the farm’s human resources, payroll, labor compliance, public relations, and food safety programs. Her brother does more of the physical farming labor.

If you are questioning my use of “sweetpotato” It is not a misspelling. According to the North Carolina Sweetpotato Commision, sweetpotato is one word. Sweetpotatoes are native to the Americas and different from yams. Yams are typically imported from Africa and have a white flesh. Sweetpotatoes can be a variety of colors including the typical orange to yellow, white, or even purple. Both vegetables can vary in size, but yams have been known to grow much larger – up to 100 pounds even.

North Carolina produces more than 65% of the nation’s sweetpotatoes. The farm I toured distributes sweetpotatoes globally across the United States, to Canada, and even Europe. The conference I attended was in September – during sweetpotato harvest, which lasts from early-September to the end of October. Sweetpotatoes are harvested by using special equipment that slides under the potatoes in the ground and pulls them to the surface. They are then gathered by hand into buckets, then dumped into large box of sweetpotatoescrates for transport and storage. Sweetpotatoes are cured after harvest and often stored for up to a year in huge climate-controlled storage buildings. When it is time to pack them in boxes for distribution, the potatoes are washed, sorted for quality, and packed into large 40-pound box for shipping. Unusual shaped, large, or small sweetpotatoes are sent to facilities where they are canned or turned into fries or even tater tots. Slightly damaged sweetpotatoes will become food for livestock.

The ideal sweetpotato can fit easily into your hand. One cup of cubed sweetpotato contains 114 calories; 12% of the daily recommendation of potassium; 27 grams of carbohydrate; 4 grams of fiber; Vitamins B6, C, A; and magnesium. After selecting your perfect sweetpotato from the garden, farmers market, or grocery – store them in a cool, dry place for the best quality. Avoid storing in the refrigerator where they will develop a hard core and bad taste. Sweetpotatoes are very versatile and can actually even be eaten raw like a carrot stick. My favorite uses are cubed in my chili or taco meat (just try it – it gives a sweet taste and cuts the acid of too much tomato), roasted, or as a cranberry sweetpotato bake that I will show below. My whole family requests this dish for holidays, over the marshmallow or sugar topped versions. I typically cut everything up for it the night before, and then place it all in a slow cooker first thing in the morning. Frees up oven space that is a premium. For other sweetpotato recipes check out https://ncsweetpotatoes.com/recipes/ where the options are almost limitless.recipe card

Writer: Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross County.

Reviewer: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County.

Sources:

The North Carolina Sweetpotato Commission,  https://ncsweetpotatoes.com/.

Kornegay Family Farms & Produce, https://kornegayfamilyproduce.com/.

Much to Discover About North Carolina’s “Dirty Candy”, Coshocton Tribune, E. Marrison, https://www.coshoctontribune.com/story/news/local/coshocton-county/2022/09/25/much-to-discover-about-north-carolinas-dirty-candy/69509036007/.

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Fall is here!  The mornings are cooler and there is a hint of color on the trees.  Fall is a perfect time to enjoy the beauty of the season.  Cool morning air, beautiful colors  and even some pumpkin spice. It’s time to pause, reflect and recharge.  With the holiday season around the corner, it’s the season to slow down and assess your health and wellness.

Change is challenging, not only for the trees but for people too.  Ask a friend or colleague to join you in your journey to wellness.  Here are some tips for a healthier fall:

  • Boost your immunity– as colder weather arrives, it’s important to boost your immune system with foods containing Vitamin C (oranges, limes, grapefruit, peppers) to help fight off infections. Almonds, garlic, ginger, and spinach also aids immunity health. Wash your hands often and drink lots of water.
  • Have dinner with your family.  It’s a perfect time to reconnect with your family. Families that eat together tend to consume healthier meals and strengthen family relationships.
  • Visit a local farmers market. Add in-season  fruits and vegetables into your meals. Apples, turnips, brussels sprouts, and squash are great in-season options to add to your meals for nutrient dense benefits.
  • Watch those tailgate party calories.  Enjoy,  yet consider filling up on vegetables and modify foods to healthier options.
  • As cooler weather arrives, it’s a perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy the beauty of the season. Take a walk-in nature for increased physical activity.
  • Sterilize your most touched items.  Your cell phone, keyboard, remote, and tablet are exposed to bacteria. Wipe down these surfaces frequently with a sanitizing wipe. 
  • Get enough vitamin D — This essential vitamin helps the body absorb calcium. We get most of our Vitamin D from the sun, so our intake decreases when the weather is colder since we spend most of our time inside during the fall/winter seasons. If you find you are not getting outside much, good sources of  Vitamin D include  salmon, tuna, and mushrooms.  Fortified foods that contain Vitamin D are cow’s milk, orange juice cereal and oatmeal. Vitamin D  can boost your mood and immune system!
  • Prepare your home for possible extreme weather conditions.  Is your snow shovel accessible?  Is your furnace and snow blower serviced and set to go.  Check the batteries in your flashlights and smoke detectors. 

With so many fun activities to do in the fall — apple picking, corn mazes, fall festivals, tail gating, football —  you’ll want to stay healthy to enjoy it all!

Have a happy and healthy fall!

Written by: Beth Stefura, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Shari Gallup, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University Extension, Licking County, gallup.1@osu.edu

References:

https://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/resources/infographic/healthy-fall.htm

https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/tips_for_staying_healthy_in_the_fall

https://www.webmd.com/women/features/8-fall-steps-for-healthy-living

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Senior woman sitting on carpet and touching forehead with hand

Falls are the leading cause of injury, even fatal injury, among older adults, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 1 in 4 Americans experience at least 1 fall every year, resulting in over 800,000 hospitalizations annually. Unfortunately, the numbers of people dying as a result of falling has been increasing, and researchers predict that by 2030, 168 deadly falls will occur each day in the U.S. 

The topic of falls is something to think and talk about. There are many commonly believed misconceptions about falls that may hinder someone from taking appropriate action that may reduce their risk of falling. For instance, some believe that loss of strength and accompanying falls are a normal part of aging and feel that limiting their activity and staying home will help prevent falls. However, the majority of falls (60%) occur in the home, while only 30% occur in public. Getting regular physical activity helps maintain strength and independence. Living spaces can be made safer by keeping floors free of clutter, making sure handrails and adequate lighting are present in all stairways, and securing rugs with double-sided tape or removing them altogether. Bathrooms can be made safer with the installation of grab bars in the tub/shower and toilet areas. 

Another misconception is that use of an assistive device, such as a cane or walker, will make a person more dependent, but these aids help many adults maintain or improve their mobility, allowing them to move about without assistance from others, even helping them to transport or carry items using a walker storage seat. For optimal benefit and safety, however, it is best for a physical or occupational therapist to provide proper fit and instruction on the use of such devices. 

While loss of balance and decreasing eyesight carry obvious risks for falls, there are other health concerns that require regular attention as well. Older adults should have their hearing and feet checked regularly;  according to John’s Hopkins Medicine, people with even mild hearing loss are 3 times more likely to fall than those with normal hearing. Certain disease states can affect the shape and sensitivity of our feet, possibly requiring special footwear for optimal safety and fit.

The National Council on Aging has set aside September 18th-24th as Falls Prevention Awareness Week, a national campaign to raise awareness of the devastating impact of falls and to increase knowledge of risk factors and actions which can be taken to prevent falls in the first place. They offer an online  “Falls Free CheckUp” tool to help individuals and family members assess fall risk and link them to other resources providing practical ways to help prevent a fall. The first step for most of us is to have a conversation, whether with a loved one we may be worried about or with our own care provider, about fall risks that should be addressed. 

Another practical way to improve mobility and decrease the risk of falling is to take part in Tai Chi for Beginners, a free online class offered Sept 19-Nov 4 through OSU Extension. Register at: https://go.osu.edu/tai-chi-autum2022

Written by Jennifer Little, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Hancock County

Reviewed by Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, OSU Extension Franklin County

Sources:

Debunking the Myths of Older Adult Falls.  NCOA Falls Prevention Week Toolkit.  https://www.ncoa.org/article/falls-prevention-awareness-week-toolkit.  Accessed 8/31/2022. 

Get the Facts on Falls Prevention.  July 21, 2022.  NCOA Center for Healthy Aging.  https://www.ncoa.org/article/get-the-facts-on-falls-prevention.

Falls Prevention Conversation Guide For Caregivers.  June 29, 2021. https://www.ncoa.org/article/falls-prevention-conversation-guide-for-caregivers

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Summer is in full swing! Children are home from school and parents may be on the hunt to keep them engaged and involved this summer. A popular choice that many parents have selected is summer camps. There can be a variety of summer camps to choose from. Some opportunities may be day camps; while others are a week away from mom and dad and full of new adventures to enjoy. There are many benefits to youth attending summer camps. These benefits include meeting new friends, trying new activities, physical activity, and creating memories that will last a lifetime. Studies show camps offering structured programs and physical activity may prevent weight gain in youth and help maintain physical fitness over the summer.

Along with the many memories made, summer camps also teach independence. During the week, participants get themselves up, get dressed, and brush their teeth all before the bell sounds to start breakfast and to begin the day. Summer camps also encourage well-being. Youth get to attend camp, see their friends, meet new ones, and come home with so many stories to share. Camps provide opportunities for practicing self-advocacy and other social skills. Youth may also have opportunities to increase self-esteem in these programs. Campers get to try activities and have experiences they can bring home for the rest of the family to enjoy. Various summer camps offer different activities for all to enjoy; there is something for everyone. I know when I was young, summer camps kept me busy and entertained all summer. My favorite memories as a kid came from the various camps I attended. I also made some of my very best friends at summer camp. I encourage parents to provide an opportunity for their youth to attend a summer camp of some variation. It will get children into the great outdoors and there the opportunities are endless. 

Written by: Kearsten Kirby, Student Intern, Ohio State University Extension Miami County kirby.305@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Miami County barton.345@osu.edu

Sources:

15 benefits of summer camp for your kids. GWRYMCA. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2022, from https://gwrymca.org/blog/15-benefits-summer-camp-your-kids

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Committee on Summertime Experiences and Child and Adolescent Education, Health, and Safety; Hutton R, Sepúlveda MJ, editors.

Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2019 Sep 26.

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We all love the weekends- it is the time for fun! What did you do this past weekend that was fun? Did it bring a smile to your face? Are you counting the days until next weekend? We need daily fun in our lives. Fun provides many health benefits and makes life interesting. Having daily fun has a huge positive impact on our health and overall well-being. The benefits of laughter and fun include:

  • Reduced stress
  • Improved coping abilities
  • Boosted energy and work performance
  • Improved memory and concentration
  • Improved relationships
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased creativity

Here are ideas to add fun everyday into your life:

  • Get outdoors-take a walk, have a picnic with friends or family
  • Plan a fun night out- mini golf, karaoke, bowling, or dancing
  • Implement a weekly game night with family or friends
  • Visit a park
  • Enjoy an outdoor concert
  • Star gaze

Having fun is important. Start today to reduce stress, boost your energy level, improve productivity, and increase overall happiness by adding more fun into your daily schedule!

Written by:  Beth Stefura,  Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by:  Margaret Jenkins, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Clermont County, jenkins.188@osu.edu

Sources:

Bekoff, M. (2014). The importance of play: having fun must be taken seriously. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/animal-emotions/201405/the-importance-play-having-fun

Becker-Phelps, L. (2018). Why you need to have more fun. WebMD. https://blogs.webmd.com/relationships/20180620/why-you-need-to-have-more-fun

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The laughter of a child is associated with happiness, bonding, and connecting. However, laughter in children is more than these things, it is how they learn and grow. A rousing game of peek-a-boo for a little one shows you they understand their loved one is behind those hands, and they enjoy the element of anticipation, and will giggle with relief when their loved one reappears. The child learns that what at first might be scary, can become fun. It also helps the child to predict behaviors in future situations.

As toddlers gain mastery of language, rhyming and nonsensical jumbled sounds or phrases become comedy hour for a 2-year-old. Their laughter tells you they understand that those words, phrases, and sounds are silly, and don’t really belong in the conversation. Children at this age also correlate objects to specific purposes or places. So, putting underwear on their heads is hilarious because they know it doesn’t belong there. They know they are being silly, and this is their way of telling you a joke.

Photo by Hannah Nelson on Pexels.com

With age comes better mastery of verbal skills, development of creativity, and problem-solving. Silly words and games are no longer the knee-slapping, laughter-inducing skits they once were. Their sense of humor has matured, as have they. A child at the mature age of six will flourish in the world of riddles, puns, and jokes. These forms of laughter inducing play help the child build their understanding of logical thought, deepen their understanding of language, and think creatively to problem solve.

When you change your perspective from laughter being a by-product of childhood and re-frame it for what it really is, childhood development, you gain a whole new perspective on peek-a-boo, silly words and noises, or riddles, puns, and jokes. Laughter is learning, growing, exploring, bonding, connecting, and so much more. Find time to laugh, no matter your age.

Written by: Dr. Roseanne Scammahorn, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Darke County, Scammahorn.5@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Misty Harmon, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Perry County, harmon.416@osu.edu

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