Reading Your Child’s Non-Verbal Cues

Actions speak louder than words. When applied to toddlers this phrase carries more weight than ever. Your toddler will have about a twenty-word vocabulary by 18 months. But before this youll have to rely on all kinds of babbling and non-verbal cues to discern the needs of your child. Having not spoken babble in some time, we as parents must be pretty perceptive when reading our childrens non-verbal communication.

For example, a pointing gesture may come in the form of a mere hand raise or quick flick; pouty lips and frowns may indicate overstimulation; and it could be time to put that baby bib in place if your baby starts sucking their fist a strong indication that theyre hungry.

The following are some of the most common and universal expressions a child can make.

Averting Eye-Contact
Gaze aversion is one of the easier expressions to understand. Lets recall our own experiences to figure this one out. When was the last time you felt ashamed, embarrassed, uncomfortable, or overstimulated in a conversation? If youre as human as I am, you probably sought relief by breaking eye contact for a brief period of time. If your child refuses to look at you it means theyve had enough. Maybe youre trying to feed them and they give you the cheek, or youre trying to play peek-a-boo and suddenly your childs giggles disappear and they couldnt care less. When such situations arise just lay off a bit. Realise that your child might want some me time to examine his or her toes.

We tend to mimic those that we aspire to be or have a great deal of respect for. Youll find yourself at times shadowing the gestures of the most magnetic person at a dinner party or your partner when youre feeling especially affectionate. As the focus of your childs universe, youll be who they look to in order to understand the world. If youre anxious in a group, your child will adopt your response be considerate this if youve noticed that they arent being as social as you might hope. If you see your child reacting in negative ways to certain stimuli perhaps certain foods or smells, or music or places work on being conscious of what kind of messages youre sending with your expressions.

Face Rubbing
You may be a bit confused when you see your baby rubbing and prodding their face. While its possible they are simply trying to scratch something, its just as likely that theyre indicating that theyre sleepy or fatigued. Children will slowly come to use their eyes to express any tiredness or other feelings. Until then be aware that most face stroking will deal with sleepiness, although we should be mindful of a possible ear infection or a rash being the cause of an apparent infatuation with the face.

Dont be too hard on yourself if you dont turn out to be the baby whisperer you aspire to be. If you dont quite understand what all those ticks and squints mean, you can take solace in knowing that while weve been trying to decipher the secret baby code for generations, nobodys quite cracked it yet.

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