Why Is Body Language Important in Children?

Body language will help your children to express themselves and have greater control over their social relationships. Learn about it right in this article!
Why Is Body Language Important in Children?
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Body language in children enables them to grow as human beings and learn to know the potential of their bodies. There are many times that gestures, postures, or actions speak louder than words, so it’s important that children understand that.

The language of the body is an innate universal and natural language of our species; however, infants and toddlers need to learn to behave like us through observation, assimilation, and imitation. In this text, we’ll help you understand what body language is for children.

The importance of body language in children

We all know that human beings communicate through gestures and mimics. Sometimes we don’t need to speak or make a sound for others to notice that we feel bad, we’re in love, have a bad temper, etc…

The human body and the signals that our face emits say it all. But body expression in children plays an extra important role in their psychomotor development.

Three young children trying to balance on one foot.

For them, this language not only serves to communicate and make others aware of their moods, but it’s also essential to:

  • Get to know their bodies better and what they’re capable of achieving
  • Develop their imagination
  • Put their creativity into practice.
  • Get to know the space in which they move
  • Have better control and management of their bodies
  • Form their identity
  • Feel good about yourself and have greater confidence in their motor skills

Elements involved in body language

Body expression is much more complex than we can imagine. It’s influenced by different elements that children should consider, either through games, dance, theater, or other types of activities. In this sense, the elements that intervene in body language are the following:

  • The body: Perhaps it may be a bit obvious, however, the body is the main element in body expression. It’s essential for both the sender and the receiver, as it facilitates the transmission of multiple messages.
  • Emotions: Body language is largely influenced by emotions. On many occasions, a person knows exactly how we feel just by looking at us, and this is impossible to hide.
  • Gestures: The emotions and the expressions of the face have a very intimate relationship with each other. Distinguishing between sadness, anguish, and happiness is very simple if you only look at the person’s face. Therefore, it’s crucial that children learn to convey and recognize emotions through this tool.
  • Movement and posture: Movements not only allow one to be related to space around them but their frequency and intensity say a lot about their state of mind and transmit certain messages. At the same time, posture’s considered to be the non-verbal key to discovering a person and their intentions.

Games to develop body language in children

In order for you to facilitate the development of body language in your child, we suggest fun and effective games for you that you can play at home. In order to give your child freedom of movement, when playing these games, you must provide a large space where they’re not in danger.

Symbolic games for children 2 years old

Imitation games, or symbolic games, consist of representing animals, things, people, and characters. Let’s say, for example, cartoons that your child likes a lot, or the usual behavior of another family member.

Children lying on the floor with their heads together, looking up, with their hands over their eyes like binoculars.

So, if it’s a matter of imitating a frog, the child must jump and simulate its croaking. If it’s a horse, they’ll trot as they say: Naaaaaay!

Or they can even pretend that they’re motors. To do so, they’ll move their hands as if they were on the steering wheel while running all over the place.

Roleplaying for children over 5 years old

Roleplaying is put into practice through the assimilation and imitation of a given role. In this exercise, your child will adopt the role of the nurse, and you, the role of the patient. That’s why you should lie down on the carpet so that they can give you a shot, take your blood pressure, heal your wounds, give you medicine, take your temperature, etc.

Likewise, your child can be your parent and then they should give you a bottle, feed you baby food, comb your hair, dress you up, help you sleep, sing to you… The ideal thing is to let the children choose the character of their choice and play with them without objecting to it. As parents, we must put aside our taboos, so if a girl wants to be a doctor and a boy wants to cook, we must support them.

Games for facial expression

To help your child develop facial expressions while practicing imitation and roleplaying, we recommend standing in front of a mirror. Their role will be to imitate all the facial expressions that you make.

They’ll get sad, happy, be amazed, will stick out their tongues, will make a face… This game is ideal especially for the youngest of children.

An effective game for body language

Finally, we have another very effective game that you can carry out with children older than 2 years of age. Of course, depending on the age of your child, the level of difficulty you set will be different.

This game consists of going around the room in a circle: Walking or running, depending on the age of the child. As both advance, one at a certain distance from the other, they’ll imitate things, animals, or postures. The orders will be given by either participant indistinctly if your child is old enough for that.

Suppose they’re walking and suddenly you say squat! Then they’ll crouch down as they continue to squat forward.

Then you say “on all fours like a cat!”, and they’ll adopt this posture as they continue moving.


Walking backwards!

Swimming like puppies!

Walking like crabs!

And so on.

Mom, you should know that body language games stimulate the imagination and spontaneity of children. They also make them lose their shyness and be more uninhibited. So, don’t forget to put them into practice at home.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.