The Secret Language of Your Child

When I was offered the opportunity to read and share with you The Secret Language of Your Child by Dr David Lewis, I was immediately intrigued. I don’t actually do many book reviews here, despite reading a lot, but I could see the appeal of this one for my readers and I wanted to find out more. And along with the details and review, I do have one copy available to give away to one of my readers.

So what drew me in? My Little Man, at two and half years old speaks well, and Boo always has for her age, too. But that doesn’t mean that I am naive enough to imagine that there isn’t a whole load of communication that I’m missing. The times when he’s fine one second and then flailing at me the next, I do wonder whether I missed a vital clue and warning of what was about to come. The teasers share..

Q: Ever thought about what your toddler is trying to say by tilting his head?
A: A backwards tilted head accompanies a relaxed play-face, and is seen during very friendly and uninhibited games. It’s never seen in hostile or neutral exchanges.

Q: What does it really mean when your baby smiles at you?
A: There are a range of different smiles;
– Compressed smiles, where the lips are drawn up as in a simple smile, but pressed tightly together. These smiles signal a repressed and slightly embarrassed mirth.

– Croissant smiles are mostly seen in babies. Here, the lips are pulled up at the edges with a small aperture formed in the centre.

Well, this was enough to make me want to read on and try to figure out what I was missing, so here’s a little more about the book and what I thought about it.

the secret language of your childThe Secret Language of Your Child by Dr David Lewis

Look at under-fives in a different way

David Lewis realised that these non-verbal skills are an essential part of the development of young children, from acquiring social skills to understanding the facial expressions of others.

The Secret Language of Your Child outlines how these skills are vital to a child’s later life, as well as enriching parents’ experience of parenthood (and providing a means by which they can enhance their child’s social and emotional development).


I took this book away with me when we went on holiday last week, so one evening I picked it up with the intention of thumbing through it to get a feel for it for this review. An entire evening later, I was still reading the book.

From the background shared in the introduction about the author, through the photos and examples to the helpful tips at the end, it all made for interesting reading. I can see that children are communicating from a very early age, though we often struggle to see it.

There are references to the benefits of early bonding with your baby and being at home with them, which I skipped over as we have those ticked off, but I can see them being sensitive issues for some. I think there’s still much you can take from this book, if you can put those points aside. I learned a lot from reading this, and as I was perusing I could picture times when my children have been in many of the situations and apply the teachings to them. The book gives plenty of examples of observations made of young children, along with clear and easy to understand explanations. There is also practical advice on how we can spot the signs of this secret language and interpret it. It does suggest you attempt to do so with children not your own initially, as it’s tough to be objective otherwise, but since reading it, I have been looking more closely and have seen some of this ‘language’. It’s particularly clear to see when my two are playing together, as they can definitely understand each other well, and don’t always feel the need for words in order to do so.

Children labelled as aggressive or bullies are discussed, and it’s interesting to read how we may be interpreting the situation wrongly, or how much we can influence and change this, as their early understanding of this language and their social skills have a bearing here. Leaders and their social skills and abilities to cleverly manipulate are fascinating to read about, especially when you consider how young the subjects are, and yet they appear to have this early grasp of employing persuasion rather than force. It put me in mind of the channel 4 series, The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds, which I also found to be compelling viewing. And as with that show, the point is made that a child who falls into one of these categories can in a matter of just weeks or over a longer time, change as they develop and learn from their interactions.

There’s a section on looking through family photographs and spotting dynamics in them, which I found quite revealing. No doubt I’ll be digging out my old family snaps next time I’m at my mum’s now. And there are a whole host of smiles to look at and analyse, and in those examples, again I could see my own children and their photos flashing before me.

All in all, I enjoyed the book. Do I think this is a crucial parenting read? No, as I’ve got by until now and my children are doing OK, I believe. Do I think it’s well worth a read, with relevant points and ideas? Yes, and I can see this being even more beneficial to parents of younger children who cannot make themselves heard yet, or should I say that they can, we just don’t know what we’re listening for. It will change your perceptions, and I am now really looking forward to my next playgroup session with Little Man to look out for his social interactions and what some of the other children are ‘saying’.

As I promised, I do now have one copy of this book available for one of my readers to win. To to be in with a chance, enter using the rafflecopter below. The give-away is open to UK residents only, and closes at 12am 3rd May 2015. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What do you think? What interests you about it?

Disclosure: I received the book FOC for the purposes of this review

The Reading Residence

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73 thoughts on “The Secret Language of Your Child”

  1. Being a qualified childminder, nursery nurse and primary scool teachers, as well as a mum, I have always been interested in how children develop and learn. I have ready many child psychology books and find them fascinating and helpful!

  2. having young grandchildren, sometimes hard to understand what they are saying or wanting so hopefully this would help

  3. I love this whole genre – it offers great insight into children, and into popular ideas of the time! 🙂

  4. Being a poker player I’m great at non-verbal communication and body language in adults but when it comes to my little one all i have is my instincts. This book looks very intersting and I’d learn alot!

  5. I think it would be a great book for my Brother and Sister in Law, who are going to be parents for the first time in Autumn, it looks like a fab book. Really interesting to get an insight

  6. sounds really interesting. Would be great to start communicating with and understanding my child’s needs as early as possible.

  7. Laura Pritchard

    My youngest is 10 days old & it would be nice to “interpret” her behaviour for her older brother as she grows up!

  8. Children are so observant. They are keen to interact. Seems us adults may be missing out in just how much children are interacting with their environment.

  9. It is interesting to see how children develop, and also I am having my first child in september so would love to have some child psychology books to refer to, I also think it will be interesting to read how my child speech develops from age to age!

  10. I have a toddler and work at a nursery with 2 year olds. Anything that can better help me understand them would be great.

  11. As a primary teacher and a parent of a 3 year old, I have a great interest in reading the psychologies behind children’s thinking and behaviours – what a fantastic prize! <3 x

  12. I would in a indirect with a whole range of children; I also have a 18 month old brother so all of things I can learn about YP are to me are a great things to learn 🙂 (hope that all makes sense)

  13. The book interests me because my mum is going to be permanently looking after my two nieces, one of whom is very much an under-5. Their parents have had some major difficulties and are unable to parent them. Services have been involved, and the girls have been in care over a year.

    My mum knows she has a lot of work to do to help them overcome their specific traumas relating to all of this, and the book really interests me because although I know she’ll do a great job caring for them, it sounds like this book could really help her be more attuned to the subtle nuances of they body language and what that’s telling her about their inner feelings.

  14. Kerry Kilmister

    i would love to have more of an insight into my two little girls minds. It’s a fascinating subject.

  15. my two year old isn’t a big speaker and would love to know what I am missing from his actions x

  16. Pingback: Mastering the art of “baby talk” | Take Home a Souvenir!

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