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Should a 5 year old be able to tell you why someone looks cross/happy/angry/sad?

(18 Posts)
Lougle Sat 27-Oct-12 10:02:28

I was talking to my DDs today about 'body language' (following on from a question about why our dog doesn't speak).

I pretended to be very cross (fierce scowl, arms crossed, shoulders hunched) and then said to my 5 year old: "How do you know I'm cross?" She replied 'because we've done something naughty'. So I clarified, and said 'what was mummy doing that looked cross?' she still couldn't answer.

Is it still too young to understand body language (disclaimer: I have some other concerns, and have been thinking that perhaps she has aspergers, but so far any difficulties are being put down to being an August birthday. My eldest has SN and goes to special school, so I have no marker of what is 'normal' for 5, and my 3½ year old seems scarily switched on, so I may be comparing DD2 unfairly.)

I'm such a freak grin

marquesas Sat 27-Oct-12 10:07:04

I would say that a 5 year old should be able to identify basic facial expressions. I think I remember my DCs doing this sort of thing at playgroup - small pictures of faces with different expressions.

ZuleikaD Sat 27-Oct-12 14:31:05

Yes, I would expect even a 3-4 year old to be able to identify basic facial expressions such as happy, sad, angry. How does she react to the Mr Happy Mr Men story?

Fluffanstuff Sat 27-Oct-12 14:35:30

Without wanting to panic you a 2 year old should be able to make distinctions between obvious facial expressions , more complicated and explinations at 3-4.

However the question you asked her could just have been misunderstood. Perhaps look at some books whilst yu read them offer up some 'oh he dosnt look very happy' examples see if she continues.

Without being to nosey what SN's does your son have , as complication with facial expressions are closely linked to language delays , autism / aspergers but also with dyslexia and dyspraxia..... It may just be a behaviour she has picked up though.

In all honesty if your worried discuss with teacher.

Fluffanstuff Sat 27-Oct-12 14:37:13

...Wish dogs did talk though Wander what mine would say

MrsCantSayAnything Sat 27-Oct-12 15:50:57

was it the way in which you worded the question though....? Had you done a cross face and then a happy face....and asked her to name the emotion, I bet she could have.

Then you could discuss why she knew how you felt.

marquesas Sat 27-Oct-12 15:54:36

I was wondering the same as MrsCant, maybe if you showed pictures of faces you might find that she can identify the expressions.

Lougle Sat 27-Oct-12 16:03:56

I'm not sure if I'm being clear. She knew that I was pretending to be cross. What I am wondering about, is whether at her age, she should be able to describe what it was about my appearance that made her know I was cross?

She by-passed that all completely (not even saying that I had a cross face) and said 'we were naughty' or 'something made you cross.' I expected her to say something like 'you are crossing your arms', or 'your voice is mean' or something about my appearance, rather than jumping to a 'cause', because she couldn't possibly know why I was angry (partly because I wasn't grin)

I don't know though, whether that is something a 5 year old should be able to observe.

Fluffanstuff Sat 27-Oct-12 16:11:20

OOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH completely misunderstood !!!!

No I dont think a five year old should be able to ! Mainly because of the way that question needs to be interpreted and also its only really at that age that they become more descriptive.

marquesas Sat 27-Oct-12 16:23:30

Oooh too, I didn't understand what you meant either, in that case I also think it's too hard for a 5 year old to understand the question and/or be able articulate an answer.

Catsmamma Sat 27-Oct-12 16:31:56

I think the pair of you are over thinking it!

She recognises the body language of you being cross, but is not answering the question you asked, but trying to think why you would be cross.

ZuleikaD Sat 27-Oct-12 16:36:17

No - I would expect her to recognise a cross face but not to be able to analyse why it's a cross face. Sorry, I misunderstood too!

schmee Sat 27-Oct-12 16:42:08

I think that is totally normal too. If you understand body language naturally you will never had to think through what a cross or happy face looks like.

I had the opposite concern about one of my DC who would say "I know you are cross because your eyebrows go down" aged about 2/3. It worried me because he was having to think through what the body language meant logically.

MrsCantSayAnything Sat 27-Oct-12 16:46:11

I just pulled a cross face and folded my arms and asked DD aged 4.7 what I was feeling and she said "Cross" and i said "What is it about me that looks cross?" and she said "Your eyes are thin and your arms are like this..." and demonstrated.

So maybe your DD should be able to explain?

Fluffanstuff Sat 27-Oct-12 17:37:05

.... In all honesty if she recognises its cross , I dont think it matters hugely wether she can verbalise it at this age or not . In any case shes more likely to draw a cross face , with the right characteristics before she can describe them verbally to you....
The poster above 'your eyes are thin' sounds like such a taught response.

unexpectediteminbaggingarea Sat 27-Oct-12 17:49:17

no, i wouldn't think so. it's good that she knew you were cross and could think of what might have made you cross. That sounds pretty normal to me.

procrastinor Sat 27-Oct-12 17:59:14

Oh I wouldn't worry if she can recognise different emotions but not verbalise why. If she's displaying empathy then that's fine. I think that's a really abstract question and I think it's a good think that she understands why people are cross, happy, sad etc.

I have to say I thought you meant she couldn't recognise the emotion which would worry me.

midseasonsale Sat 27-Oct-12 20:49:13

Look at the national autistic website for info. It's great.

My in tune 4 year old DS would ask 'is that your thinking face mum' or 'are you sad, your eyes look upset mummy'

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