Let’s take a moment to observe your child’s fascinating world. You’ll quickly realize that they possess a unique language of their own, and it’s not just spoken words. No, their actions and behaviour have the power to communicate volumes.
Picture a toddler throwing an epic tantrum. It may seem like chaos, but beneath the surface, they’re conveying a message. They’re saying, ‘Help me!’ ‘I’m done!’ ‘I don’t like not getting my way.’ ‘It’s frustrating not being able to do what you can do.’ And my personal favourite, ‘Why don’t you understand what I’m trying to tell you?’
Now, imagine laying an infant down on the floor, and they begin to cry. At first, you might assume it’s because they dislike tummy time or simply want to be held. But there’s more to it. They could be hungry, tired, or confused about their surroundings.
Here’s a game-changer: if you lower yourself to their level, make eye contact, or speak in a soothing tone, the crying might cease before you even pick them up. You don’t have to stay glued to the floor forever, but it’s worth a try to make them feel more at ease. Sing or talk to them from a distance—it can work wonders.
Even older children, though equipped with a large vocabulary of words, often struggle to express their true emotions effectively. That’s where their behaviour becomes a crystal-clear indicator of their inner world.
Just think about our not-so-little guy, who is 11 years old. When he’s bouncing off the walls or struggling to follow simple requests, it’s a telltale sign. It could mean he’s bursting with excitement, harbouring worries, overflowing with energy, or simply having a blast.
So, let’s be clear: children communicate through their actions and behaviour. Now, you might be wondering, ‘That’s great, but what can I do about it?’
Hold on tight—I’ve got some tips to help your child improve their communication through action:
1. Pair Actions with Words:
Empower them with the right words. Picture this: your infant is crying, and you know they’re hungry. Instead of merely comforting them, say, ‘I think you’re hungry.’ It may sound silly, but trust me, it’s incredibly helpful. This technique is especially effective for toddlers and preschool-aged children.
2. Respond to their Actions:
Give them the chance to express their needs. Believe it or not, children as young as eight months can use gestures, although it’s typically around ten months when they start gesturing for what they want. When you acknowledge their gestures and show them that you understand, they’ll continue to use this form of communication.
3. Teach Them Sign Language:
When your child resorts to gestures, you can introduce simple baby sign language. The key is to combine signs with words, enabling them to communicate using both methods.
4. Visualize it:
Use visuals to enhance communication. Prepare a set of pictures that your child can use to express their needs. Around 16 months, they can start using this technique. Ask them to ‘show you’ what they want, and although they may begin around 12 months, they’ll become even better at it by 16 months.
Now, let’s decode some actions and unravel their hidden meanings:
When a child shows an action towards a breast, it usually means hunger—the most common reason. However, it can also indicate tiredness or boredom.
Ah, the myriad cries! You’ll become an expert at deciphering them.
When your child resorts to hitting, it can often signify frustration or anger. However, don’t be quick to judge. Sometimes, it can also be a sign of extreme excitement. Understanding the underlying reason behind the hitting will help you respond appropriately.