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Body language speaks volumes

Maria Fernandes

Non-verbal communication is equally important as verbal communication. As parents when we communicate with our children, a lot of our communication is without words and includes facial expressions, gestures, body contact, eye contact, personal space and tone of voice.

Positive body language can improve our relationship with our children and boost emotional connections in the family. Most little children love being hugged and kissed. This warm and caring body language sends the non-verbal message that you want to be close to your child. Negative non-verbal communication – for example, a grumpy tone of voice or a frown – when you’re doing something fun together might send the message that you don’t really want to be there. Children can feel rejected or let down if this happens consistently.

In other words non-verbal communication is important for reinforcing our verbal messages to our children. When our non-verbal communication sends a different message from our words, our child is more likely to believe the non-verbal communication. So if we ask our children how their day has been without stopping to hear their answer, they’re likely to think that we’re not really interested.

Non-verbal communication is also important for teaching children how to relate to and get along with other people. For example, if we use warm and caring body language towards our children, it teaches them how to express love. If you stop what you’re doing to listen to them talk about their day, it shows them how to give people their full attention too.

Improve your communication through positive body language

Here are some ideas:

Touching their arm to let them know you’re interested and you care about what they are saying or doing.

Using a lot of eye-contact, which says ‘I’m giving you my full attention’ and ‘You’re important to me’.

Bending down to your child’s level. This shows you want to be close and helps your child feel more secure. It also helps with eye contact, especially for younger children.

Using a pleasant tone of voice and a relaxed body posture and facial expression when talking with your children. This helps them see you as open and ready to listen. And it also makes it easy for them to tell the difference when you’re not happy with their behaviour.

Give them a lot of hugs, cuddles and kisses.

Remember children are extremely perceptive and can read body language, sometimes, better than adults.

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