By Vaibhav Datar
Ever wondered how people communicated with each other in ancient times, when there was no verbal language? Communication was mostly through gestures and body language. But as verbal language evolved, we got more dependent upon the words we speak and with time, lost the ability to listen to our inner voice.
Having said that, humans have still not lost the ability to decipher unspoken messages completely. We still have a wonderful tool called intuition. In fact, there was a study done to understand whether body language is a learnt skill or inborn. The study compared blind athletes (born blind) with regular athletes. Every time a winner completed his run, his hands went out and head went up, irrespective of whether he was blind or not. This shows that we already have the skills of communicating effectively through our body language. We may have just forgotten the basics to understand and decipher the code.
Children are like sponge, absorbing completely from their environment as much as they can. They are fast learners. They can easily distinguish if their mother is angry or if she is being loving. As parents we have this immense responsibility of teaching children the importance of body language, which is probably the only communication skill that is not taught in schools. We have, unfortunately, no training provided for body language, listening, emotional intelligence, etc.
So, a parent has to be the first teacher when it comes to body language, paying attention to how a child sits, stands and communicates with the social environment. Let us look at the key points where parents have the opportunity to teach these skills effectively.
Interaction with your partner
Suppose you are about to get into an argument with your spouse and your child is watching you, how do you react? Do you respond in a manner which speaks highly about you? How is your body responding to your thoughts? Is it in synchronicity with your verbal outburst?
A child is watching you closely and knows how you feel about it. It is best time to teach your child effective body language, by showcasing the right emotions.
Dinner table interactions
What gets discussed at the dinner table? Are we talking about problems or challenges? Or are we speaking about opportunities and solutions? Every interaction that you have with the child or in his presence is registered. How do you react or respond to tricky situations? Because, for a child, his parents are the best teachers. If you take things casually, there is a high probability that your child follow suit. If you focus on negativity, there is a high chance that your kid will do so as well. As parents, it is our responsibility to learn effective body language.
Interactions with others
You meet several people, whether it is in the lift, during social meetings, family get-togethers, birthday parties, etc. Difficult situations arise triggering unwanted reactions, sometimes unconscious retaliations. As parents, we have to mind our body language because though we can blame the outer world for our situation, we cannot neglect our responsibility to the child. For him, you are his world and the way he will face the world depends on how you teach him to do so.
Body language (or nonverbal communication) is a very important tool and the earlier one learns, the better it is for everyone.
(The writer is a midlife coach and author of Simplify Your Life.)