Want to teach your toddler important life skills? Well it’s time to become funny as a new study reveals that children as young as 16 months old naturally learn the difference between joking and pretending by picking up on their parents’ cues.
A research by the University of Sheffield showed that understanding the difference between the two allows children the opportunity to learn, imagine, bond, and think in abstract ways.
The researchers carried out two studies, the first one involved parents being asked to joke and pretend with their 16 to 20 month old children using actions.
In the second study, parents of 20 to 24 month olds were asked to joke and pretend verbally with their toddlers.
The research found parents can offer explicit cues to help distinguish between joke and pretend intention contexts and children, even as young as 16 months old, pick up on those cues.
The children showed less belief through their actions and the older children showed less belief through their language.
Dr Elena Hoicka said that parents who pretend and joke with their children offer cues to distinguish the difference between the two and toddlers take advantage of these cues to perform.
Hoicka said that the research revealed the process in which toddlers learn to distinguish joking and pretending.
She added that knowing how to joke was good for maintaining relationships, thinking outside the box, and enjoying life, adding that pretending helped children to practice new skills and learn new information.
The study is published in the journal Cognitive Science.