When you communicate with your child, a lot of your communication is speechless. Non-verbal communication includes facial expressions, body language, body contact, eye contact, personal space and tone of voice.
Why is non-verbal communication important?
Positive nonverbal communication can improve the relationship with your child and increase emotional connections in their family. Most children love to be hugged and kissed, for example. This warm, affectionate body language sends the nonverbal message that you want to be close to your child.
Non-verbal negative communication, for example, a grumpy tone of voice or a frown, when they do something fun together can send the message that you really do not want to be there. Children may feel rejected or disappointed if this happens constantly.
This means that nonverbal communication is important to strengthen your child’s verbal messages. It can be as simple as stopping and giving your child all your attention when you ask them what their day was like at school. This sends him the message that you are really interested and that you care.
Nonverbal Communication Different Than Words
When your non-verbal communication sends a different message than your words, your child is more likely to believe in non-verbal communication. So if you ask your child how his day has been without stopping to hear his answer, he or she probably thinks you’re not really interested.
Your nonverbal communication is also important to teach your child how to relate and get along with other people, which is an important skill for life. For example, if you use warm and affectionate body language towards your child, you will teach him to express his or her love. If you stop doing what you’re doing to listen to your child talk about their day, you also show him how to pay full attention.
Use body language and tone of voice to improve communication
Body language and tone of voice are key parts of non-verbal communication. You can use them to send positive non-verbal messages and reinforce what you’re saying to your child. Here are some ideas:
- Touch your child’s arm to let him know you’re interested and that you care what they’re saying or doing.
- Go around to look at your child and use a lot of eye contact. This says, “I’m paying all my attention to you,” and “You’re important to me.”
- Lean to your child’s level. This shows you want to be close and helps your child feel safer. It also helps with eye contact, especially for younger children.
- ‘Reflect’ your child. This means using the same facial expression or tone of voice as your child. You can show him that you’re trying to understand his feelings. For example, if your child smiles at him, give him or her smile back. If he’s sad, nod his head and look at him a little sad.
- Use a pleasant tone of voice and relaxed body posture and facial expression when talking to your child. This helps your child see you open and ready to listen. And it also makes it easy for your child to notice the difference when you’re not happy with their behavior.
And of course… give a lot of unconditional love and pampering to your children!