Children's Unspoken Language

Children's Unspoken Language

Children's Unspoken Language

Children's Unspoken Language

Synopsis

Gwyneth Doherty-Sneddon, a developmental psychologist and mother of a young son herself, demonstrates the way in which a young child's developing personality and intelligence is revealed in their non-verbal communication. She shows how parents and other adults have the potential to facilitate a child's social and intellectual growth through acknowledging and responding to this unspoken language. Taking an in-depth look at four of the channels of non-verbal communication - hand gesture, facial expression, eye gaze and touch - this accessible text follows the development of young children from birth to late primary school age.

Excerpt

An important part of learning to be a competent, social human being is learning how to send non-verbal information. Equally important is learning how to understand it. Children acquire these skills throughout childhood. The aim of this book is to document this important part of child development. Children express their knowledge and understanding of situations, concepts and people in non-verbal ways before they can articulate the same information in words. So non-verbal communication provides an invaluable window through which to see children's social, emotional and cognitive development. Understanding these important channels of communication can help parents and professionals working with children to facilitate children's learning and development.

In many cultures an important issue in child development, for parents and professionals alike, is the unfolding of language. A major event for most parents in a child's early years is when she speaks her first word (typically this happens around 12 to 18 months of age). In contrast, we seldom hear parents report when their children first began pointing to ask for something, or when they first used an action like flapping their hands to represent a bird. Why should this be? My understanding is that people just aren't looking for these signals because they don't expect them to be important. However, many early non-verbal signals occur before children begin to speak, and are important indicators of their growing understanding about the world in which they are living.

Because children, particularly the very young, lack the language skills to express their knowledge and understanding, we often seriously under-

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