How Affection Boosts Brain Power

The Beginnings of Communication

Most parents assume that their baby's initial spoken words are the first sign that language ability is developing. In fact, your baby's preverbal gestures reveal his growing ability to communicate. When you respond to those gestures, you nurture important aspects of his personality. You build his self-esteem by welcoming his attempts to express his needs. You show him that his feelings can be part of a dialogue. And by fostering his ability to read another person's gestures and body language, you help him tap into some primal survival skills.

Honing those skills can help your child become more cooperative and attentive when she reaches school age. A child who is adept at sending and receiving nonverbal cues may find it easier to sense when a class- mate's interest is wandering or her teacher is losing patience. Such a child can follow rapid changes in vocal tones and speech patterns and make quick judgments about what she sees and hears.

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