Watch a movie or TV show together and turn down the sound at certain points. Ask your child how he thinks the characters feel based on their facial expressions. Ask him to look at their body language and use it to guess what they’ll do next.
Watch the scene again with the sound back on so your child can see if his prediction was right. Do this with shows that he already likes to watch. Ideally it’s best to start with shows that are designed for kids because they tend to overly dramatize facial expressions and verbal interactions.
What you can say
“Jacob, at times it seems hard for you to figure out how people are feeling just by looking at their facial expressions. I have an idea on how we can work on this. Let’s watch your favorite TV show and add a new twist to it. We’ll turn down the sound and see if we can figure out how the characters are feeling just by looking at their faces and how they move their bodies.”
“Once you tell me what you think they’re feeling, we’ll turn the sound back on and listen to see if you guessed correctly. This could be fun, and we can do it together without anyone else in the room.”
Why this will help
Children with learning and attention issues often have trouble understanding people’s facial expressions and body language. This is a hugely important social skill.
You can use TV to help your child get better at it. TV can be a great teaching tool because it holds kids’ interest, offers a wide variety of characters and allows for reviewing and discussing social situations.
Playing this TV game at home also gives your child a stress-free way to practice identifying what other people are feeling. The more your child practices this skill, the better he’ll get at using it out in the real world.