Decoding Your Kid’s Body Language

July 24th, 2017


From a young age, we were told by our parents and teachers that actions speak louder than words – and they are not wrong. The rule of communication is that it is generally seven percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal body language. This means that it is more often what we don’t say that sends a message, thus effectively making every gesture or slight tilt of the head more significant than we think.

While we teach our kids speaking and writing, it is also important to pick up on their body language to have good communication and understand them better as parents. We select some common, seemingly innocuous signals that the little ones often use, and help you work out what they mean.

1. The Dodge

It can be a little heart-breaking when your once clingy kiddo pushes you away or avoids you when you try to help. Before you start lumping that under the pains of being a parent, it can actually be a good thing, as it could mean that your child is starting to explore the world in her own capacity and manner, which leads to a greater sense of independence and a “can-do” spirit. Psychologist Dr Rahil Briggs suggests parents to see themselves as a petrol station and their kids as cars. “When she needs assurance, she’ll zoom into the safety of your arms for emotional refuelling.”

2. The Arms Fold

The crossing of arms is a much maligned body language that kids often employ to send an – almost always negative – message across. Try asking them to get off the TV or help with a chore, and you’ll see this posture manifest itself in all its glory. Truth is, doing so doesn’t necessarily make your kid a brat. Rather than being a blocking behaviour, it is actually self-restraining behaviour, and is an attempt to comfort themselves – or they are honestly just feeling cold.

3. The Look-Away

We are keenly aware of the power of eye contact. Naturally, when our little ones display a lack of it, we assume they did something bad and is trying to hide it from us. Parents tend to expect the worst when the children don’t speak up or show sneaky body language, but instead of thinking that they’re up to no good, they could be developing a new way to deal with feelings of remorse and shame – a key component of raising a self-aware and responsible child. “If you know what went wrong, point it out and tell him not to do it again. If you’re not sure, say, ‘I know something’s happened and it’s okay –  I love you,” says Dr Alan Greene.


For a more in-depth read on Decoding your Child’s Drawings, pick up the July/August issue of Parents World magazine, available on newsstands now!

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