A social skill that we adults often take for granted is the ability to decipher how someone is feeling by reading his or her facial expressions. We probably do this multiple times a day without giving it a second thought. Interestingly, it is not a skill that most are born with. It takes lots and lots of practice. Just because it is easy for you, don't assume it is easy for your child (it's probably not). By making this skill a priority, you are helping your child become a happier and more successful adult.
Here are some ideas for helping your child learn how to read facial expressions:
*Insert observations about someone else's feelings into your everyday conversations.
I could tell that Daddy really liked his birthday present. His face looked so happy!
When Ethan was crying today after he fell down, his face looked really sad.
I could tell that Logan was trying really hard to put together that puzzle. His face looked very frustrated.
*When your child is having big feelings, put a name to them. Ask questions.
Your face looks really mad. What happened?
You look very sad. Why are you feeling sad?
*When helping your child solve a conflict with a friend or sibling, ask him to notice facial expressions.
You hit Cate on the leg. Look at her face. How do you think she is feeling right now?
*Notice characters on TV and in books that have definite facial expressions and talk about those.
A good book is Are You my Mother? by PD Eastman...
How is the baby bird feeling? He can't find his mother.
Look at the baby bird's face! He found his mother! How is he feeling?
Reading facial expressions is a skill that will help your child throughout life. It is an important skill in relationships and in the career world. It will make your child more empathetic and less self-involved. There is really no down side to teaching it, but like many other skills, starting early is the key.
Let Them Fly!