Body language can sometimes be taken for granted as a skill. While it does occur naturally, learning to effectively communicate in professional settings with body language takes practice. Just like word choice and tone, body language affects the way others perceive and understand you. As a child and youth worker, you can provide support and strategies for families and children dealing with challenges. In many cases, these challenges are emotional, which means that it is important for you to effectively communicate in a way that is helpful. Read to learn some ways you can use body language to do this!
SOLER for Child and Youth Worker Training
The SOLER method was developed by Gerard Egan. He was a psychology professor who believed this strategy was an effective way for counsellors to communicate and practise active listening. The letters stand for sitting Squarely, Open posture, Lean in slightly, Eye contact and Relax. These elements create inviting, engaged body language. When you are relaxed, the person you are speaking with is also encouraged to relax. An open posture avoids crossing limbs, which can sometimes appear guarded or defensive. Sitting squarely facing the person you are with, leaning in slightly and maintaining eye contact all show you are paying attention.
In your career after child and youth worker training, these tips can come in handy when practising active listening. Since you will be helping people with sensitive situations, you will want them to feel reassured that you are there for them, present, and hearing what they say.
Body Language to Avoid After a Child and Youth Worker College Program
Body language has the ability to send not only positive signals, but negative ones as well. Often, these negative signals are unintentional. As you become more conscious and aware of your body language, you will be able to employ this knowledge to avoid making people feel uncomfortable.
One thing to watch out for is allowing your eyes to wander. When a person is speaking to you and sees that you are letting your gaze move around the room, it feels like you aren’t listening and don’t feel invested in what they are saying. Avoiding eye contact can also communicate a lack of confidence. In your profession, you will want to portray competence and trustworthiness by holding confident, moderate eye contact.
How You Can Use Facial Expressions to Communicate with Children and Families
Facial expressions are a big part of body language as well. Some people frown when they concentrate, so it’s possible that when you are very engaged, you adopt what could be seen as a negative facial expression. A furrowed brow or squinting can seem a little intimidating. Especially when working with children, monitoring this will help you keep them communicating and comfortable with you. Each child and youth worker course prepares you with skills that allow you to help families. Your body language skills enable cooperation with others to help you work more smoothly.
A neutral or friendly facial expression is best when dealing with families and their children. Many times they will be feeling tension or stress, and as a support person in their lives, you can offer a less stressful energy by maintaining command of your body language and facial expressions.
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