While you may not think your child is listening to you, they are paying attention to your body language. Many times when you ask your child to do something, they don’t follow instructions. As a parent, this can become very frustrating. While the words you are saying may literally mean, “Brush your teeth,” your body language may be confusing to your child. Research shows that body language counts for 55 percent of what is absorbed while 38 percent is tone of voice and lastly 7 percent is the actual words that are spoken. Mother of two and body language expert, Yana German, has come up with seven tips for parents to communicate more effectively with their children.
- Make Eye Contact – German says that when you make eye contact with your child, you are acknowledging that what they say is important to you. “Children absorb much more than we think. If you aren’t looking at them when the two of you are speaking, they will notice,” German says. They’ll also be looking out for other clues like a slight smile or frown or if your eyes look serious or not.
- Get on their Level – Parents are typically much taller than their young children and when you speak down to them it can be intimidating. German says it’s best to squat down next to your child or even sit with them. “The message becomes much clearer when you make the effort to talk to them not at them,” German says. “My children get the message much quicker and are much more willing to do as I ask when I’m not towering over them.”
- Stay Close – Young children especially feel the need to be near their parents and guardians. “Kids feel protected by their parents,” German says. “It’s natural they will have a better response when they are close to the ones who most love them.”
- Accurate Facial Expressions – It is always best to react positively to your child, as these are habits they will tend to copy themselves. However, if your child has done something wrong, you should have a neutral face or look stern. “If your child is reaching for something that you’ve told him to to grab and he grabs it anyway, it could be because you have a slight smile on your face,” German says. “When your child isn’t in danger, it may seem funny or cute therefore they don’t listen to you because they can read your face that you aren’t taking it that seriously.”
- Join Them – If you want your child to clean his or her room, it may help if you start to pick up toys simultaneously. “The child will connect with you and not find the task at hand like a punishment and will be more willing to cooperate,” German said.
- Open Your Posture – When listening to your child it is best not to have your arms crossed according to German. She says keeping your arms and even palms open to show that you are receptive to what they are saying and thinking as well.
- Sign Language – Parents use their own sign language with their children without realizing it. “When you give your child a thumbs up or high five, you are giving them positive reinforcement to their actions,” German says. Not only is this an action they understand, but many kids find it fun therefore they are more willing to listen to you.
Yana German is a founder of School of Walk and has been studying various forms of body movement for over 20 years. Her clients range from stand up comedians and actresses to stay at home moms and children who are being bullied at school.