PARENTS

Kid Rules: Learning To Laugh At Yourself

13/07/2013 19:04 | Updated 22 May 2015

The other day, my nearly-three year old put on her dad's flip-flops, wobbled into the garden and promptly fell over. And I laughed so hard I almost wet myself.

"You NOT laugh Mummy!" Scolded my child. "It NOT funny!"

That's when I realised I was about to teach her a big lesson. One that's right up there with being kind to people and remembering to say "please" and "thank you".

Because, for me, having the ability to laugh at yourself is a hugely important quality. Not taking yourself too seriously helps you negotiate the tricky patches of life with a smile. It helps you rise above people who put you down, and sail through awkward situations with a winning grin. In short, it makes life so much easier.

Kneeling down, so that my face was eye-level with my daughter's, I spoke to her. "Remember when we were at Sainsburys that time?"

She nodded.

"And then I dropped the shopping by the big doors?"

A moment of recognition.

"And then I bent over to pick it all up and that gust of wind blew up my skirt?"

(She's smiling now)

"And you shouted 'MUMMY I CAN SEE YOUR BUM!'"

A broad grin.

"It was funny, wasn't it?"

Squealing with delight, my toddler clapped her hands. "You showed your bum! It funny!"

And I agree. It was funny. In that situation I could have scuttled off, red-faced and tearful, in the knowledge that the old bloke behind me had just got an eyeful of my holey Primark pants. But I didn't. Because it was funny. Instead, I cracked (*ba-da-boom*) a joke and picked up my shopping, chuckling with my tot at my own misfortune.

As I walked past people, they smiled. One lady even laughed that the same thing had happened to her just the other week (they really should do something about that wind tunnel).

Remembering that day had an immediate effect on my toddler, who'd been indignant just seconds earlier.

"I not hurt Mummy," She said. "It funny, ha ha ha!" And with that, she skipped off smiling.

It's a lesson my own parents taught me. With his disarming self-deprecation my dad can win over even the grumpiest person. My mum's warm laughter and gung-ho attitude to pretty much anything inspired me to try all sorts of activities as a kid, regardless of if I thought I'd be any good at them. I didn't care if I failed, as long as I enjoyed myself in the process.

And that's why learning to laugh at yourself is, in my opinion, a key lesson in life. Of all my friends, there's not one who is self-important or arrogant. The people I see in my life as successful are the ones who possess the power of banter, the odd bit of self-deprecation and aren't so obsessed with appearing 'the best' that they actually end up being, well, the best.

When they laugh, people laugh with them. When they have something important to say, people listen. And when they mess up occasionally, they admit it.

This is what I want to teach my child. It's OK to laugh at yourself. Because if you can't find the funny in accidentally flashing your bum at Sainsburys, the world will be a very dull place.

Molly Forbes is a journalist, writer, editor and broadcaster who can be found blogging about her experiences as an exhausted mum to a diva toddler. Molly lives with her daughter and (equally exhausted) teacher husband, regularly subjecting them to her love of Take That and rubbish TV.

Twitter: @mollyjforbes

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