laughing at the misery of others

Nicole - posted on 03/20/2011 ( 21 moms have responded )

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I know that there is a part of human nature that gets pleasure from the suffering of others, if there wasn't then slapstick wouldn't exist.

If a child expresses openly a desire to laugh at people getting hurt, how should their parent respond?

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[deleted account]

Like Meghan I find small accidents where people aren't really hurt really funny - I always have. However, when someone is really hurt I don't find it funny, I knew the difference even as a child I may have initially laughed but as soon as I knew the person was hurt I didn't find it funny anymore. If your child is laughing a minor things I wouldn't be concerned that is a natural response, however, if they find major accidents funny then you need to teach them that someone is hurt and it isn't funny when people are hurt.

Meghan - posted on 03/21/2011

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This is a tough one for me because I find small things (tripping on your own feet and walking into a wall) really funny. When we watch AFV my son laughs at the same stuff but probably because I am.
The key is to teach them the difference between a little accident and a big one. If someone doesn't get up right away, cries or you see blood-it isn't funny. Someone is "really hurt." We were at a bday party and one of the other boys bit his lip while on the trampoline. There was blood and a lot of crying. My son was very concerned, went to check on him and talked about his "owie" all nite.

Merry - posted on 03/20/2011

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Eric does it alot. We watch wipeout on abc and it's all a big obstacle course designed to make the people fall alot! Eric goes OH when they fall and laughs. But he has never hit another child, and only hit me a few times and when I cried he cried too and said sorry without prompting and gave me huge hugs!
Now daddy let's eric hit him in plays when Eric hits dad he laughs. But he seems smart enough to know he doesn't do that with mom or any one else.
Sometimes I wonder if he shouldn't find pain funny, but mostly I think it's harmless and pretty deep in a boys make up :)

Sharon - posted on 03/20/2011

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Thats a tough one.

We've been laughing at the roadrunner getting his ass kicked in the process of his own nefarious schemes for years. And in Tom & Jerry and tons of other slapstick comedy.

I do remember having a pang of concern with my oldest when he didn't seem to differentiate someones real pain with comedy.

I taught him otherwise. My younger boy seemed to get it instinctively and my daughter doesn't seem to get slapstick comedy at all and calls us all "cruel" for laughing when the bad guy gets his ass kicked.

The boys get frustrated with her but I have to wonder if her dismay is genuine and how much is theatrics.

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[deleted account]

That song made me think of my hubby, he always says 'well it could be worse...it could've happened to me!' when I hurt myself (small stuff like a stubbed toe not big things like broken bones) - that makes me smile everytime and I forget about the pain, it works :-)

Caitlin - posted on 03/23/2011

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Kind of reminds me of this song - I love it..



Unless it's malicious laughter I wouldn't worry about it..

[deleted account]

I gotta say, if someone laughs when I hurt myself, I think that's the pits. It makes me feel completely horrible.

If I caught my kids laughing at somebody else's misfortune, they'd be in big trouble.

Having said that - apparently there's a cultural thing to it. I was told recently that in China it's very common to laugh if someone hurts themselves, it's just the way people often react. Any Chinese people out there to agree/disagree with that?

[deleted account]

Meghan- Thank you, that's sweet. When he had his helmet I wasn't uptight about people looking at him or asking questions. I think that is normal human behavior, people are curious about things they don't normally see. If he wasn't my son and I saw a child like him for the first time I'd probably do a double take, too. But what i wouldn't do is track him with jaw dropped like he's some kind of circus freak. People are pitiful. At least kids have the excuse that they're kids but the adults, it just blows me away how ignorant and shallow they can be. You learn alot about people when you're faced with that kind of situation. Makes you wonder how some people have the sense to even put one foot in front of the other. I'm just thankful that he was too little to know how cruel people can be. We were in Target shopping one day and this 'man' and woman walked past while I was looking at baby clothes and the man said 'Oh my God, look at that fucking kid!!! He's wearing a GD helmet!!!' among other things, all while walking backwards to continue staring and pointing at him. That one made my stomach drop and I could feel the tears welling up...which doesn't happen very often with me bc I was used to reactions from people so I was prepared, but that one got me. Before I even had the chance to open my mouth this sweet soul who was also in the baby section just let it rip. She tore that sorry excuse for a man a new asshole and chased him away with his tail between his legs. It was beautiful and I was so thankful for her! : )

JuLeah - posted on 03/22/2011

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Common reaction ... I laugh sometimes when I fall down. Just teach to watch and see if the person who got hurt is laughing or needs help .... if it is a little hurt or a big one .... I have openly laughed at friends who fell, tripped, stumbled .... if they are really hurt then it is not funny and a gut reaction is often laughter, so no worries

Meghan - posted on 03/22/2011

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Yup Toni, the only thing that keeps me from dropping 4 f-bombs and an S word is laughing at myself right after I trip over the chair *I knew* was there. If we can't laugh at ourselves...
Stephanie, THAT makes me sad. I don't believe in laughing at or making fun of anyone for a personal reason-that is not funny and I am sorry you and your son had to go through that! Laughing at or making fun of someone for looks, race, disabilities is rude and would not tolerate or encourage it in anyway shape or form!

[deleted account]

My boy was born with a cranial deformity and had to wear a helmet his first year to reform his head. Everywhere we went people commented on it and asked questions, which didn't bother me. It's natural to be curious about something different that you don't see everyday. What did bother me was kids laughing and saying rude things and their mothers not correcting them and telling them how inappropriate they are and that you don't laugh and make fun of people who are different from you. Some moms did say things to their kids but most didn't and that makes me want to take my proverbial comedical slapstick and wack the momma across the head a few times then shuv it up her ass as far as it will go. Yeah...I get irritated just thinking about it.

[deleted account]

Emily I may not laugh when I actually stub my toe but you can bet your ass I'll laugh at my stupidty 5 minutes later :-)

Emily - posted on 03/22/2011

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I believe humor is learned.

I never liked the whole laughing at other people's expense thing. AFV has a lot of those kinds of things. I just can't find them funny. I've taught my boys never to laugh at someone getting hurt. The way I did it was to remind them of how they would feel if it happened to them. If it did, and they would still laugh, then it's okay to laugh at it happening to others. There aren't many things that hurt that you would laugh about if it just happened to you. But there are some. Today, they find it disturbing that people laugh at other's expense. They still watch AFV sometimes, but they only laugh at the truly funny things.

Katherine - posted on 03/22/2011

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I think that kids don't really have empathy yet. I know I didn't. Not until I was older.
My response would be to explain to them why it was inappropriate to laugh.
My daughter has seen people in motorized wheelchairs, but she doesn't laugh, she just exclaims loudly, "Why is that man in a chair that moves!!!"
I then explain later.
Normally kids with autism or aspbergers tend to do this. Not saying anyone's kids have either.
But it's very common for these children, because they lack empathy.
I don't know, that's my opinion.

Louise - posted on 03/22/2011

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We all giggle when somebody falls over and then with a split second our concern kicks in. This is human nature and a natural response. A young child does not associate falling down with pain this is a learnt response as they get older. You have to teach a child to be loving and nurturing it is not a natural response the easiest way to do this is with the family pet. When your child hurts themselves by falling over you give a big hug and make a big fuss this is a learnt response as we get older. Nothing to worry about just human nature.

Bonnie - posted on 03/21/2011

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I would just explain that there is nothing funny about someone getting hurt or getting into an accident and that they likely wouldn't like it if someone were to laugh at them if they got hurt.

Alyssa - posted on 03/20/2011

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Theres a big defference between someone hurting themselves accidentally and laughing at a TV show where there is a willing participant...I think most kids understand that and if they don't then laughing at Wipeout might help!

I watch Funniest Videos with my kids and most of it is funny because people are doing stupid things and it is obvious they know the risk... like riding a bike down a 40 foot hill up a ramp and landing on their head. Teaches my boys more than what is funny I think LOL

Sneaky - posted on 03/20/2011

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My kids laugh at wipeout - but only because mummy and daddy are laughing too :o)

I think they have both fallen over too many times to laugh at anyone else hurting themselves like that.

Stifler's - posted on 03/20/2011

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My 14 month old laughs at Wipeout. I find it disturbing but then again... we both laugh at Wipeout.

Nikki - posted on 03/20/2011

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I think it's important to teach them when it is appropriate and when it is not. It's part of developing empathy.

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