Gesture and body language shows desires, needs, and emotions. How parents use it can influence how we are in adulthood.
Gestures, facial expressions, body posture or gaze make up non-verbal language, a form of communication that complements the word and that says much more about us than we think.
In fact, Barbara and Allan Pease, in their mythical book The Language of the Body, claimed that most of our communication is non-verbal. Let’s think that, evolutionarily speaking, non-verbal language appeared long before verbal.
For our hominid ancestors, being able to grasp the intentions of the animals that lived in their area was a matter of life and death. Reading the predators’ gestures helped them decide, in fractions of a second, whether or not they were going to be attacked.
CHILDREN’S SPECIAL SENSITIVITY TO NON-VERBAL LANGUAGE
You may have noticed that babies are very comfortable with some people, while with others they are fussy and restless.
Obviously, children react to different tones of voice, but much of this sixth sense of babies to “filter” people are also due to their ability to pick up non-verbal language.
During the first 6 or 7 years of life, in which rational thinking has not yet fully developed, the midbrain, the intuitive, is the one that predominates and, precisely, that is where non-verbal language is processed. For this reason, we must pay special attention to how we communicate gesturally and bodily with children.
The gestures or looks that we use can impact them as much or more than words. Let us bear in mind that the smaller they are, the more emotional and intuitive they are, so non-verbal language leaves much more of an impression on them than words.
This special sensitivity towards gestures can positively or negatively influence the psyche of children.
- If we take care of our non-verbal language, we will be able to reinforce our children’s trust in us, which will help us maintain fluid and healthy communication with them. A friendly look and a welcoming posture make them feel affection and closeness.
- However, a child may also perceive that parent are always in a hurry and hardly stop to look into their eyes, and they may assimilate that stress as the natural way to cope with life.
THE INVISIBLE VIOLENCE OF NON-VERBAL LANGUAGE
In my office, many people explain to me that their parents never hit them or yelled at them because “with one look, they left you paralyzed. ” Imagine how vulnerable a baby or small child must feel when receiving such a cruel look from the person they love and have to protect their life. Obviously, this leaves its mark on adults.
The creatures that live this non-verbal control on a daily basis end up adapting to what the elderly expect of them and, when they grow up, they become true specialists in reading non-verbal language to automatically respond to the wishes of others. We may identify with this behavior. To prevent our children from following this same path, we must pay special attention to our attitude when communicating with them, not only so as not to harm them, but also to help them to have a calm and stress-free childhood.
Our non-verbal language (how we look at them, how we approach them) is an indispensable tool so that they can feel loved and protected, which will facilitate their free developmen.
TAKING CARE OF NON-VERBAL COMMUNICATION IS ALSO IMPORTANT WITH OTHER ADULTS
- When someone is faced with a complicated situation, they can perceive much more with a gesture, a look or a hug, than with words.
- Sometimes in life, knowing that you are accompanied and loved can help us much more than a deep talk.
- A kind gesture, of understanding, of love, of tenderness, can be much more valuable than all the words in the world.