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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Kids KNOW How to Read People by Understanding Body Language

Many parents and grandparents don’t give their children or grandchildren credit for being as intelligent as they are. They talk in front of children and even babies, believing that kids don’t have a clue what is being said, but believe me, kids know more than we think they do and way more than we give them credit for knowing. I often wonder if, through well-intended, but unnecessary tactics we employ to teach our children how to understand our world, we dismiss their ability to assess situations on their own. 

Pretend for a moment that children were born with an innate sense of knowing how to read people, even from birth. Look into their eyes when somebody speaks. Imagine that they instinctively know how to evaluate and analyze smirks, smiles, frowns, and even tension in their parents and others. What happens when we later argue with them and tell them that their perceptions are wrong? Do they believe us and question their perceptions? Do they adopt society’s (and our) views and ignore their own?

Before they learn how to communicate with speech, babies ascertain feelings and emotions through facial expressions and body language. In a previous blog I wrote, How to Feel More Powerful, I discuss the subjects of physiognomy and phrenology, the studies of body language and facial expressions, something I believe we are all born knowing, but as speech develops, we place more emphasis on words than we do actions. 

No clearer example of understanding facial expressions and body language exists than what I heard the other day – a child who interpreted a situation he encountered by understanding – intuitively – the subtle, and not so subtle, aspects of physiognomy and phrenology.

A couple of rooms away from where I sat, I overheard one of my grandsons talking to one of his friends who was about the same age. A little girl in my grandson’s class (not the little girl I mentioned in this blog – Kid Crushes and Puppy Love) was paying him a lot of (apparently unwanted) attention.

My grandson knew that the little girl liked him, he said, because she always “fake laughed” around him – a lot – (he even imitated her laughing) and, he added, her eyes got really big whenever she talked to him. 

What an accurate description of the way a nervous little girl acts when she is enthralled with a little boy! How perceptive! 

Think of the many times you have witnessed over-the-top flirting in real life, in movies, and in comedy routines. And now you’ve just learned a little more about physiognomy and phrenology – from an 8-year-old!

Language is only one way to communicate. Beyond facial expressions and body language, we also rely on our other senses as well. Now is a good time to ask your children how they know when somebody is happy or sad. How do they know if somebody is lying? You might be surprised by their responses. 

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