How to understand a child’s nonverbal cues
Many parents of young children are upset because they do not understand their nonverbal signals. Despite the fact that usually children by the age of two already know about 200 words, they regularly use only about 50. This means that they Express their needs primarily through nonverbal signals. Parents need to learn to understand them, otherwise it can cause the child to tantrum.
Of course, you are not required to read the child’s mind. However, his body signals can tell you how to react in a given situation. Consider the most common nonverbal signals of young children and their meaning.
1. Your child is standing with his arms crossed in front of a new toy
As parents understand it: “Take her away! I’m not interested!»
What it might mean :” I feel anxious.”
It’s hard to believe, but a signal like crossed arms can have more than 60 interpretations. But in young children, this often means that the child feels uncomfortable. For example, you bought your child a rocking horse and offer him a ride. Perhaps he can’t say outright, ” I don’t want that incomprehensible wooden rocking horse standing next to me.” But he can cross his arms in front of him, as if creating a protective barrier. Young children love to learn new things, so if you think that the child is not interested in something, in fact, maybe he is going with the spirit.
What to do. If the child does not dare to sit on the rocking horse, continue to go about their business. Later, you can ask him to do it again. Use your own verbal and nonverbal cues to show that you like the horse (for example, shake his hand or say: “Wow, how interesting!”). But do not force the child to ride – it can lead to hysteria. When he calmed down, his curiosity would take over.
2. Instead of saying Hello to his grandmother, the child pulls the shirt over his head
As parents understand it: “I don’t want to see her.”
What it might mean: “I don’t want her to see me.”
The child’s reaction is related to himself rather than to his grandmother. First of all, look at the child’s face. If he smiles, he can just play. But if he looks unhappy, he may be hiding because he feels anxious. Young children experience a variety of emotions, but do not always know how to Express them.
What to do. Don’t make too much of it. You’ll probably be tempted to tell your grandmother, “He’s so shy,” so she won’t feel awkward. But do not put labels on the child. Try to explain what happened. Tell your child, ” you Seem to be feeling insecure. You can join us whenever you want.” When the child will join you, show by the look that you are glad to it.
3. When you enter a room, the child does not look you in the eye
As parents understand it: “I did something bad and I don’t want you to know about it.”
What it might mean :” I have negative emotions about what I’ve done.”
Lack of eye contact is not always a sign that the child is hiding something. In addition to the fact that the child may just be shy, he may feel shame and guilt. A recent study by American psychologists found that two-year-olds who felt guilty about their bad behavior were less likely to behave badly in older years than those who did not experience negative emotions in such cases.
What to do. Keep calm if you think that the child is hiding something. You may be looking for evidence of some serious wrongdoing by the child, but in fact he may be upset because he accidentally knocked down the tower of cubes that his younger sister built. In any case, it is best for parents to respond positively. If you know what happened, explain to your child what he did wrong and tell him not to do it again. If you don’t know what happened, say, “I know something happened, but it’s okay. I love you.” Thus, the child will feel confident and he will not need to hide anything from you.
4. A one-year-old who usually doesn’t move away from you, runs away or pushes you away
As parents understand it: “get Away from me!”no.”
What it might mean: “I can do it myself.”
What may seem rude at first glance may not be so bad after all. The child begins to trust himself and the world around him.
What to do. Try not to take the child’s behavior personally – most likely, he still needs you. If he wants to look closely at a tree in the Park, let him touch the trunk or smell how the leaves smell. Do not interfere if the child is not doing anything dangerous (for example, picking up a sharp branch, which may hurt). Such classes help the child to be charged with positive emotions and, most likely, during the day he will behave better.