Researchers tell us that children laugh more than 400 times a day during play with their friends, but what is happening to childhood in our modern world? Children traditionally spent their childhood in play, when they learned about life and also developed emotional skills that we now call Emotional Intelligence.
But today's children, in our fast-changing world, are increasingly faced with different childhood realities. There is an increasing need for Laughter and Playfulness in children of all ages as they strive to meet the demands of school, college and parents. Laughter can help children to cope with Stress and also replace some of the play and laughter time that they are losing to formalized educational systems and changes in lifestyle.
Laughter Yoga is the best technique which inducts more laughter into children's lives. It promotes group laughter without the needs for humor or jokes. It has proved very effective when incorporated in the education system, as it helps to eliminate the factors that cause stress levels among students and hinder healthy relationships.
Major stress factors in children
Low Concentration: Studies show a huge leap in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Children with this disorder are extremely hyperactive and find it difficult to concentrate for even short periods. In the US, one in 18 school children now suffer from ADHD and half of those are being treated with the psycho-stimulant drug Ritalin. The number of children with this disorder rose by a huge 600% from 1990 to 1998 and the US has five times more cases than the rest of the world put together.
In the UK the same actions have resulted in the same problems, with Ritalin prescriptions shooting up from 2,000 to more than 90,000 in six years. Children with the disorder are extremely hyperactive and find it difficult to concentrate for even short periods. They act on impulse and often appear to have no sense of danger.
An extended hearty laughter improves blood circulation and flushes the lungs of stale residual air. This helps in better concentration power, increases the learning ability and helps to enhance academic performance.
Academic Pressure: Children faced with a competitive academic environment from early age are being pressured by their parents and teachers to attain excellent grades. Schoolwork results in many symptoms of stress and high social anxiety.
As they learn to laugh unconditionally, they become adept at handling pressure as laughter builds self confidence and the ability to handle stress by boosting the immune system and releasing endorphins in the brain which 'kick start' good feelings and reduce stress.
Parental Pressure: Children are constantly pressurized by parents to perform better. The expectations many times lead the children to strive for unrealistic goals, which if unfulfilled can bring on serious stress and prove to be detrimental to their mental and physical health. A general decrease in parenting skills leaves children deprived of strong moral and emotional guidance and role models.
Lack of Emotional Bonding: The increase in broken homes and the consequent lack of emotional bonding and long-term relationships with parents or responsible adults combine to cause a host of emotional problems.
- In UK alone parents are spending more than one hundred pounds a month on treats for their children to compensate for lack of quality time with them.
- Britain's 11-14 year olds:
- 75% have TV in their bedroom
- Two-thirds have DVD or Video player
- 25% have computer
- 80% have their own mobile phone
- For every 80 acres of golf courses there is 1 acre of play space for children. Playing fields are being lost at the rate of 1 per day.
- Thirty percent of U&K children never play outside without an adult watching over them.
- In 2005 359,000 children were prescribed Ritalin and 130,000 were prescribed SSRI antidepressants
- On in ever homes does not have a table everyone can sit around for meals.
- Adult Brits put in 36 million hours of free overtime each year, and one in three refuse to take all their holidays, fearing a backlog of work then they return. (The Ecologist UK – Nov 2007)
Laughter Promotes Positive Emotions and Coping Skills: Group dynamics establishes a caring-sharing network of relationships and emotional bonding. Children, particularly teenagers learn to indulge in healthy group play which alleviates feelings of deprivation and loneliness.
Lack of Exercise: Children whose natural energy is traditionally expressed in movement, laughter and play are being forced to sit still and concentrate for extended periods from an early age.
Laughter Yoga is a unique workout regime that oxygenates the blood and other organs, leaving them full of energy and physically fit.