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How to Speak the Language of Facial Expression

Published on April 18, 2016 12:00 AM EST
How to Speak the Language of Facial Expression

As someone who works around children, I not only understand the importance of teaching this language but have also observed the benefits that children experience when they can speak the language of facial expression. When a child has difficulty picking up on facial cues, she may misjudge a person’s meaning or mood. She may struggle to relate to her peers and misunderstand the guidance of her teachers or parents.

How to Speak the Language of Facial Expression

We can learn important lessons through the eyes of our children. 

Children are naturally mindful and aware of their surroundings. While they may not have the appropriate skills to recognize facial expressions at first, children are more open to learning. As adults, we become rigid in our ways and struggle to step outside of our comfort zones. There is much we can learn about how to relate to others by looking at the world through the eyes of our children.

How to Speak the Language of Facial Expression


We learn to look before entering. 

Children must first build awareness around when they should or should not approach someone by studying their facial expression. They are taught to pay close attention to eyes, eyebrows and mouth. Are the eyebrows raised or slanted? Is the person smiling or frowning? Are they scrunching up their face, or do they seem relaxed? Just like a child and her peers, this lesson applies to adults and interactions with friends, co-workers, parents and children.


We save ourselves an argument.

Once a child has the basic understanding of how to recognize facial expressions, they learn how to avoid a potentially negative situation. If children notice frustration or anger, they can save themselves a fight by being mindful of facial expression and understanding when it is important to back away rather than get involved. As adults, we can benefit from utilizing this same skill in the workplace, with our partner or at home with family.


We improve our relationships.

Not only do children learn how to avoid negative situations, but they also improve on their ability to be empathic to others. A child may notice that the facial expression of a peer is sad or in need of help. As children improve on their abilities to speak this language, they become more connected to their peers, community and environment. We, too, can become fluent in the language of facial expression and improve our ways of relating to the world around us.

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