How to Decode Your Kid's Body Language

Instead of saying hello to Aunt Sara, your kid yanks her shirt over her head.

What you think it means: I don't want to see her!

What it probably means: I don't want her to see me!

Your child's reaction is probably more about her than her aunt. First, try to peek at her face. If she's smiling, she could just be playing. "But if she looks unhappy, she might be hiding because she's feeling a sudden wave of wariness," says Dr. Sossin. Toddlers are dealing with lots of new emotions, and they don't always know how to express them. Your next move, don't make a big deal out of it. You may be tempted to say, "Oh, she's just shy," to make her aunt feel better, but avoid labeling your kid's behavior in front of her. Try to describe what's happening: "Looks like you're a bit unsure. Let's give you a little time, and you can join us when you want." Then, keep it upbeat with Aunt Sara to show that she's fun to be around.

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