“I am so happy. I don’t remember being happy like this for a long time.”
– Twelve-year-old girl, Obedeih Village, Palestine
Laughter is vital. Children learn through play. It’s how they build human relationships, trust, and empathy. It’s estimated that 175 million children will be exposed to a major disaster by the end of the decade. Children are naturally resilient, but without access to play or laughter, they’re unable to fully develop and heal.
Laughter for Trauma
- Studies show that initial symptoms of post-traumatic stress in children can decrease over the span of eight to 20 months if they’re able to return to their normal life as it existed before the trauma. Ongoing or repeated trauma can delay this time of healing.
- When families are victims of violence, parent-child interactions change. Adult figures may display an increase in worry and over-protectiveness, and communicate a lingering sense of danger after a traumatic event. These reactions can intensify post-traumatic stress responses in children.
Healing With Laughter
- When we experience positive emotions through laughter and play, endorphins are released, which reduce pain and generate feelings of wellness, and stress relief.
- Even the anticipation of something humorous, or faking a smile, can dissolve negative emotions and produce happier ones.
- Laughter can create a positive shift in self-concept or self-perspective and create behavioral changes through heightened feeling and emotion.
- Laughter is contagious, and being surrounded by an emotionally positive atmosphere generates a greater sense of human connection.
- Laughter itself can stabilize blood pressure, improve circulation, restore homeostasis (balance), and induce relaxation. Studies have found a positive correlation between laughter and improvement in heart rate and respiration.
CWB – USA is thrilled to be part of Chicken Soup for the Soul’s 2019 Hidden Heroes program. Watch Executive Director Naomi Share talk about our work, and resilience through laughter.