Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Importance Of Body Language

Children with a trauma history, especially those with FASD, regulate off of the people around them. They are like the toddler who, when he falls, looks to see what mom's response is. If mom says, "Oh, you poor thing!" And becomes upset, guess what baby will do? He will begin to cry! If however, mom smiles and says, "It's okay, let me kiss your ouchie. Now run along and play." Baby will usually smile and toddle off happily. Baby's and toddlers are still unsure how to react to situations so they look to their parents, and react accordingly.

Traumatized children do the exact same thing. When they are unsure about something, they look to their parents to see how they respond. Then there are those children who, because of their past trauma excel at reading body language. The child who is pushing mom away because he fears bonding, which to him, means making himself vulnerable to pain and rejection; hones in on mom's body language and he can read her like a book.

All the correct responses in the world, will amount to nothing if you are not in control of your body language. Having "kind eye's, a gentle voice and relaxed posture are anything but easy when your child is melting down over inconsequential things yet again, but it is absolutely necessary.

Lower your voice and slow down your speech.
Relax your shoulders.
Put kindness in your eye's.
Walk gently.
Use a soothing touch.

Sometimes when my children are so upset, they can no longer hear me or process what I am saying, I "speak with my eye's." I say the words inside my head and let my eye's do the talking. Amazingly this sometimes works!

When my shoulders and back are tense, my children mirror my posture and become more dysregulated.

I tend to speak louder and faster when I am frustrated. When a child is triggered, he will not be able to "hear" you. He is operating out of fight, flight or freeze and when his body is in this mode, he cannot process words.

Sometimes a gentle touch, calms a panicked child. Not always, sometimes it will only make it worse, as every child and situation is different.

The Body Language Expert, says communication is:
7%  words (literal meaning)
38% tone of voice
55% body language
Of course, different situations will skew this percentage, but I think it gives us an idea of the importance of body language. 

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