Why It's Important to Use Nonverbal Language with Children
Communication isn’t just about using words. In fact, it’s the first development of body language, both conscious and unconscious. Although it may not seem like it, it’s important to use nonverbal language from an early age to create good communication in the future.
Remember, during the first few years of life, human beings don’t communicate with words. They use gestures, postures and facial expressions.
When you have babies or young children, it’s important to know how to use this language in a way to benefit their development. Of course, it’ll also strengthen your bond as a family.
What is nonverbal communication?
Nonverbal communication consists of gestures, facial expressions, and also certain types of sounds like crying and screaming. In babies, it’s a form of primitive communication.
It helps them express a concern or discomfort. In other words, it’s a product of instinct, and it’s triggered by a basic need.
Of course, it starts developing at birth and gets better over time. You can see this very simply: as your baby grows and becomes aware that his crying makes things happen, he’ll learn to cry with certain types of gestures like pouting. That way, he can keep getting what he wants.
Through nonverbal expressions, babies can express surprise. For example, they raise their eyebrows, open their eyes and mouth, or raise their upper eyelid.
Why promote it at home?
It’s important to use nonverbal language with infants and toddlers to help them empathize and understand information. For example, they learn that they’re loved and safe when they’re with their parents.
How do you express that without words? By hugging and holding them in your arms, for example.
Using nonverbal language with babies benefits them emotionally and leads them to feel motivated enough to try and connect with people around them. Over time, babies will try to imitate the speech of people and try and use words.
Opening their mouth to ask for food is a very common gesture for babies to communicate without words. This way, parents can know when their baby is hungry and they should feed him.
Many parents encourage their children to try to smile when they do something good. That way, babies learn to express joy when they see a funny face or feel ticklish.
How to stimulate the development of nonverbal language
One way to stimulate nonverbal language is to maintain eye contact with your baby and try to create a mirror effect. To do this, stand in front of your baby for a little while. That way, he can focus his attention on you, hold your gaze and imitate your gestures.
Of course, as long as you do this on a regular basis, your baby is more likely to develop nonverbal language successfully. The simplest thing is to try to make him smile when you do or when he sees a certain stimulus – for example, when you touch the bottom of his feet or show him a certain toy.
In the same way, to develop your baby’s senses, you can use different tones of voice and rhythms from different places: near, far, from the front, and from the side.
Nonverbal communication helps the brain mature gradually.
Why it’s important to use nonverbal language with children
It’s important to use nonverbal language with children to help them express needs, feelings and moods, both inside and outside the family nucleus.
In this way, babies can interact with their parents in a closer and more efficient way. For example, when they communicate with a gesture that they’re uncomfortable or upset, then parents can come up with the best solution to treat it.
Nonverbal communication will help young children accompany words or learn to express themselves when necessary. This is a skill that’s useful throughout life in various settings.
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- Ternera, L. A. C. (2009). Características del desarrollo cognitivo y del lenguaje en niños de edad preescolar. Psicogente, 12(22). http://revistas.unisimon.edu.co/index.php/psicogente/article/view/1168
- Navarro, E. C. (2013). El lenguaje no verbal: un proceso cognitivo superior indispensable para el ser humano. Revista comunicación, 20(1 (2011)), 46-51. https://126.96.36.199/index.php/comunicacion/article/view/823
- Muñoz, M. T., González, C., & Lucero, B. (2009). Influencia del lenguaje no verbal (gestos) en la memoria y el aprendizaje de estudiantes con trastornos del desarrollo y discapacidad intelectual: Una revisión. Revista signos, 42(69), 29-49. https://scielo.conicyt.cl/scielo.php?pid=S0718-09342009000100002&script=sci_arttext&tlng=e