Want to Connect with Your Teen? Get Them Laughing

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: Want To Connect with Your Teen, Get Them Laughing

Written by: Marybeth Bock

Remember when our kids were toddlers and they laughed all the time? Something small like a silly television show, a tickle before bedtime or a few bubbles would send them into a full-blown hearty laugh that melted our heart.

Think about it… when was the last time you really laughed with your teen? I’m not talking about a little chuckle, I’m talking about a lose-your-breath, laughed so hard you nearly cried kind of laugh.

The truth is, once our kids hit the teen years that kind of laughter just doesn’t happen quite as much (with a lot of teens, anyway). In fact, it seems to come in sporadic waves with far too much time passing in between.

Maybe it’s because life is busier.

Maybe it’s because life is more serious.

Maybe it’s because the demands of life (for both of us) have us chasing our to-do lists.

Or, maybe it’s because our kids just don’t find us funny anymore, they’re too cool to laugh at our goofy jokes or they find their daily dose of laughter with friends.

Either way, if you’re anything like me, you miss hearing your kids laugh. You miss that twinkle in their eye when they’re truly happy and you miss seeing the weight of everyday life lifted off their shoulders as they wrap their heart around those precious carefree moments. 

But, we all know, life has a way of stealing our kids’ joy because being a teenager is sometimes just plain hard. 

Behind the scenes, their hormones are raging, their brains and bodies are under massive construction, their emotions (along with their skin) are erupting, and for the first time in their lives, they’re learning how to navigate complex relationships.

But that’s only half of it… most teenagers’ schedules are maxed out.

Academically, they’re trying to keep up with classes, homework and studying. Socially, they’re seeking to maintain friendships, navigating the ups and downs of social media, and possibly even trying to find time in their life for a girlfriend or boyfriend. In addition, they’re somehow squeezing in sports, after-school clubs, part-time jobs, internships, preparation for college, chores, and other family commitments – all of which have a way of derailing their happiness and their desire to laugh.

But let’s not forget, being the parent of a teen can be just as hard.

So often, it feels like we’re performing a juggling act trying to balance so much at once – our own lives and careers and running a household, all while supporting the success and happiness of our kids.

When life with our teens gets overwhelming, it’s easy to find ourselves connecting with our kids in mostly negative ways – constantly reminding, nagging, correcting, and disciplining.

If you find yourself missing the merriment of parenting and wondering where that joyful little kid went who used to laugh at, well… almost everything, maybe it’s time to make a concerted effort to laugh a little more with your teenager. 

If You Want to Connect with Your Teen, Get Them Laughing


It’s No Joke – Laughter is Really Good for Our Kids

Did you know that a good laugh can leave our kids (and us) feeling more relaxed for up to 45 minutes? It’s true! It can also decrease the level of stress hormones in their body, increase their immunity, relieve physical pain, and improve their overall health.

We can also thank laughter for releasing endorphins, those “feel-good” chemicals produced in our brains that help boost happiness, which hold the power to make our kids feel generally happier. Plus, when you share a hearty laugh with your teen, it can help you both feel more connected.

Another good reason to make laughter a priority is that it has powerful healing benefits – whether you’re trying to get past a harsh disagreement or resentment – laughter can help build and re-build bridges with our kids. Best of all, laughter is a priceless medicine that’s free!

Get LOL-ing with Your Teen

If you want to connect with your teen, get them laughing! Consider these quick and easy ways to bond over humor with your son or daughter:

Tik Tok and YouTube Videos

As the parent of a teen, do you ever find yourself totally annoyed when your kid watches what seems like endless hours of videos? I used to roll my eyes when my son would ignore conversations going on around him while he cracked up over cat videos.

Then one day, I decided to actually sit down with him and watch a few of them together. I have to admit, most of them were hilarious. From then on, my son and I carved out regular time to watch videos together. (He’d never admit it, but I know he loved it just as much as I did.) Start off with cats, hamsters, or baby goat videos – you can’t go wrong there.

Standup Comedy Specials

Standup comedy specials can be found on many of the streaming services, on YouTube, or on comedians’ websites. Introduce your teen to your “old-school” favorites (who they’ve probably never heard of) and allow them to choose their current picks who you may not know about.

When life seems particularly heavy, my daughter and I always carve out time for a John Mulaney standup special (Jeff Dunham is hilarious, too.) No matter how many times we’ve watched, we always end up laughing so hard we can barely talk. For inspiration, check out “The 30 Best Stand-up Comedy Specials on Netflix” from Paste Magazine. (Some may not be appropriate for younger t(w)eens.)

Try Out Your Teen’s “Thing”

What is your teen really into right now? Is it Minecraft? Hip-hop dance? Soccer? Chess? Why not give it a try with them? Most teens think it’s pretty funny to watch their parents attempt to do something they’re good at. (I definitely know this from first-hand experience and have now learned the difference between a putter and a driver!)

Head to an Amusement Park

I’m not sure there’s a teen out there who doesn’t love scary rides, roller coasters and steep water slides. So, if you can muster up the courage (or perhaps you’re a daredevil yourself), head to the nearest amusement or water park and have a day filled with carefree fun and laughs with your teen. (Trust me, every teen needs a day like this every once in a while!)

Go Bowling, Rock Climbing, Hiking or Go-Karting

Skip the chats about grades and college, avoid bringing up their messy bedroom and forget the fact that they’ve worn the same sweatshirt for three days in a row and head out for a little fun. Whether you hit the bowling alley, go rock climbing, hiking or visit the nearest go-kart track, you’ll find far more laughs with your teen when you get them out of the house, away from school, and far away from all their responsibilities. 

Break Out the Board Games

Can’t get your teen to play a board game with you? Gather a few of their favorite snacks and entice them to play for “just an hour” or offer a small prize (okay, call it what it is… a bribe) for the winner. Chances are, they’ll end up playing for longer and you’ll end up laughing. Here’s our list of the best board games for teenagers.

Try Laughter Yoga

Yes, Laughter Yoga really is a thing! Also known as Hasya Yoga (Hasya is the Sanskrit word for laughter), it was started by Madan Kataria, a physician from Mumbai, India, who combines simple yoga breathing techniques with “laughter meditation.”

It’s basically forced laughter, which sounds kind of strange, but as Kataria explains, “The body doesn’t know the difference between real laughter and fake laughter.” Try out one of the laughter yoga videos on YouTube, like this quick one, and see if you and your teen don’t end up truly laughing, like we did.

Send Your Teen “Stuff to Make Them Laugh” Texts, Gifs, or Quotes

Send your teen an occasional funny quote, picture, joke, or meme via text. Even if they roll their eyes (which they probably will) or you get a “Moooommm, why are you sending me this stupid stuff.” Do it anyway – especially when you happen to be having a crummy day. It’s a great way to soften the blow of an argument, lighten the mood, and help you stay connected to your teen throughout the day.

Find Humor in Everyday Life

If we pay a little closer attention, there are so many things that happen throughout the day that are worthy of a satisfying laugh. Something hilarious your dog or cat did, a funny news story, something a friend said or did or even something really funny (or kinda dumb) your teen or you did. Open your eyes and look for the humor that surrounds you.

Adding more laughter into your relationship with your teen doesn’t require much time, effort or money, and it’s well worth the effort, not only for the health benefits but for the bonding and wonderful memory-making opportunities. So, dive into some humor, parents! If you want to connect with your teen, get them laughing.

Hearing my child laugh is quite possibly the most beautiful sound in the world. 

About Marybeth Bock:

Marybeth Bock, MPH, is Mom to two young adults and one delightful hound dog. She has logged time as a military spouse, childbirth educator, college instructor and freelance writer. She lives in Arizona and thoroughly enjoys research and writing – as long as iced coffee is involved. Her work can be found on numerous websites and in two books. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.


If you enjoyed, “If You Want to Connect with Your Teen, Get Them Laughing,” here are a few other posts you might enjoy reading:

30 Quotes About Teens that Will Tug at Your Heart

23 Things that Threw Me for a Loop When My Kids Became Teenagers

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