A Study of Nonverbal Communication of Children

A Study of Nonverbal Communication of Children

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    by Dr Margaret Lowenfeld

    In the main the theoretical basis of current child psychiatry has been built up upon material gathered in the analysis of adults and adapted for the treatment of children. A central feature of both spheres of work is the importance laid upon verbalisation.

    During the past thirty years a great deal of valuable information has in this way been gathered, concerning certain aspects of early human experience and processes of development. To this approach there are, however, equally clear limitations – since small children cannot talk, interpretations are per force inferential. They can moreover only apply to those areas of experience which have come to light in the analyses of adults. Moreover, owing to the dominance of the basic theories, derived also for adults, material, should it appear in treatment of children, which lies outside the range of these theories will be interpreted within their range and so become lost or misinterpreted.

    Furthermore, since children are unable to use words for the expressions of their experience, either to themselves or to their therapist before the years approximately of 7/8 they can only assume that what has happened and is happening to and in them is a universal experience and order their behaviour accordingly.

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