Close
Language?
English
Español
Picking up on social cues

At a Glance: Helping Your Child Learn to Read Facial Expressions

By Amanda Morin

25Found this helpful

When your child has trouble picking up on facial expressions, she may misjudge people’s meanings and moods. Here are some ways to help her learn to better read and interpret these important social cues.

25Found this helpful
At a Glance: Helping Your Child Learn to Read Facial Expressions

Does your child not notice or understand when people look angry, surprised or even happy? She may need extra help learning to read facial expressions. Here are some strategies you can try.

Use Pictures
Take or gather photos of people your child knows. Look for a range of facial expressions. Print and make flashcards. You can:
• Help your child identify the feeling that goes with the expression on the card and why she thinks that’s the right emotion.
• Each take a card, mimic the expression and have the other person guess what it is.
• Name times you’ve seen someone make that facial expression. (“Jenny made that face when she stepped on a bug in her bare feet.”)
• Ask your child to find pictures in magazines or on websites of people whose expressions match those in her flashcards.

Analyze Facial Features
Show how eyebrows, mouth, eyes, nose and forehead change with emotion. Practice making expressions like “angry eyes.” Looking in the mirror can help your child see how accurate her expressions are.

Analyze Facial Movement
Ask your child to pay attention to what the muscles in her face feel like when she’s happy, sad, angry, etc. Have her look in the mirror to see the expressions she’s making. That can help her see it in other people’s faces.

Help Her Notice Changes
Point out the “neutral” faces of family members and friends. This can help her see changes in expression.

Use Movies and TV
Watch with the sound off and work together to identify the facial expressions.

Try Out Apps
Let your child play apps like “ABA Flash Cards & Games – Emotions” and “Training Faces.” These games are a fun way to practice recognizing facial expressions independently and discreetly.

Teach Her to Ask
Remind your child that it’s OK to say something like “Sometimes I can’t tell if you’re mad. Are you?”
Graphic of At a Glance Helping Your Child Learn to Read Facial Expressions
Graphic of At a Glance Helping Your Child Learn to Read Facial Expressions

What’s Next

About the Author

Portrait of Amanda Morin

Amanda Morin

A parent advocate and former teacher, Amanda Morin is the proud mom of kids with learning and attention issues and the author of The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.

More by this author

Reviewed by Mark Griffin, Ph.D. Nov 13, 2014 Nov 13, 2014

Did you find this helpful?

Comments

What’s New on Understood

facebook
twitter
pinterest
googleplus
email