How to Decode Your Kid's Body Language

When you come into the room, your 2 1/2-year-old won't look you in the eye.

What you think it means: I did something bad (and I don't want you to know about it).

What it probably means: I feel bad about something I did.

Your child's lack of eye contact isn't always a sign that he's trying to be sneaky. Along with shyness, he's also starting to deal with feelings of shame and remorse -- and that's good: A recent University of Iowa study showed that 2-year-olds who felt bad about acting up had fewer behavioral problems later on than those who didn't.

Your Next Move Stay calm if it seems like your kid is hiding something. Your first thought might be to search for trail of cookie crumbs or some other quasi-disaster, but he may simply be upset that he knocked over his sister's block tower. "Whatever the case, the best way to respond is to keep it positive," says Alan Greene, M.D., professor of pediatrics at Stanford University School of Medicine, in California. If you know what went wrong, point it out and tell him not to do it again. If you're not sure, say, "I know something's happened and it's okay -- I love you," says Dr. Greene. This way, he'll feel secure enough not to try to hide things from you.

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