As Dr. Phil acknowledges on his television show and in his book, Life Code, times have changed so much that new rules have to be applied in order to get through life.
For decades, we have been teaching our children to respect their parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, teachers, religious leaders, and police officers, but situations now require us to teach our children that people need to earn their respect. Children also need to learn how to recognize deceit and trust their instincts.
How do we teach children to recognize deceit and trust their instincts? By educating ourselves! The first place to start is by reading Dr. Phil's Life Code (to read my review of Dr. Phil's book, please click the link for One Book Everybody Should Own, Read, and Absorb.
Before you read the book and while you read the book, instruct your kids on how to follow their instincts. For instance, if the words somebody speaks don't match the body language or the facial expressions, be suspicious of the message.
Experiment with your children. Smile while you say, "I really don't like what you're doing." And then discuss how your smile didn't match your words. Clench your fist, squint your eyes, and grit your teeth while you say, "I love (pick something you hate – for me that would be liver)." Mixed messages should practically scream to the child that what you are saying is wrong or confusing.
The experiment will show obvious dissimilarities between facial expressions and words, and once children learn the obvious contrast, subtle "micro-expressions" (discovered and elaborated upon by Paul Ekman) may be easier to detect.
After you've introduced the concept of deceit, let your children try to trick you into believing their words while behaving differently – the point of the exercise – behavior is supposed to match spoken words, but with deceitful people, they don't.
Your child should begin to recognize that when he or she is confused by mixed messages, something is wrong and needs to be addressed. Subtle sneers and signs of disgust while someone is forcing a smile should confuse a child enough to prompt him or her to question the message. Experiment with the subtleties as well.
Sarcasm is another subject that needs to be discussed. Children often cannot recognize or understand sarcasm. The younger they are the more children pick up on body language and facial expressions, but as they get older they rely more on words, and when those words don't match the physical expression on the face or body, the child won't know how to respond, because they won't understand the intention of the words being spoken.
If children learn how to recognize deceit while they are still young, the subtle expressions that defy the words will be easily recognized by them when they get older.
Discuss with your children disparity between words and actions so that scenarios like the one above (Mr. Pennington's article) don't occur to your child. What should have happened in that class was that if the students had the information Dr. Phil talks about, and if they had the necessary skills for recognizing an irrational (and perhaps psychologically defective) teacher, the students would have refused to do the assignment, they would have walked directly to the principal's office, and they would have gotten positive media attention for standing up for themselves instead of succumbing to the perverted behavior of their "teacher".
We have to instill in our young people the message that they can stand up for themselves, they can speak up for themselves, and they can think for themselves. And if it takes giving them permission to do so, then that's what we must do.
I learned a great deal about body language and facial expressions from watching an excellent television program, Lie to Me, that for some reason lasted only three seasons. I was so fascinated by the program, I wrote about it in the article, "Lie to Me" and Paul Ekman:
Physiognomy and Phrenology Exposed. We could all benefit from understanding how to read people, and I was sorry to see the program go.
The world has changed. People are becoming more and more adept in the art of lying. We need to arm ourselves with knowledge and protect our children from victimizers. The best thing we can do to help our children is to educate ourselves and talk to our children about body language and facial expressions. If you don't already know the subtleties of lying, watch the following videos and educate yourself more about body language and facial expressions. Books on phrenology and physiognomy should help too.
Here are the videos (the second one is long, but well worth watching):
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