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The Importance of Face to Face Communication

Being able to tell what people really mean, or if someone is lying, is an important skill to have. But like any skill it needs practice.

Dr Amanda Gummer is one of many experts in child development who believe that overuse of solitary, screen-based play may be preventing children from learning to read subtle cues and develop the ability to understand another person’s true meaning or motivations. This can increase the risk of being conned, lied to and exploited; and no one wants that for their children.

Children need opportunities to practise face-to-face communication and make up their own minds about the validity of what someone is saying or why they may be saying something that they believe isn’t true. Children need to practise their ability to work people out and learn who they can trust.



Dr Amanda Gummer has some tips for parents who want to help their children interpret other people’s communications effectively:

1. Talk to them about bias in news and how to critically evaluate a piece of information. By instilling skepticism and a discerning mindset, children will become better equipped to identify misleading or inaccurate content.

2. Familiarise your children with common physical cues displayed by individuals who are being dishonest. Teach them to observe subtle signs such as flared nostrils or a tendency to avoid eye contact, enabling them to discern when someone may not be speaking the truth.

3. Present your child with three statements, each equally plausible but with one being false. Encourage them to carefully observe and listen to you, challenging them to identify the lie. This exercise will sharpen their attentiveness and ability to discern discrepancies between spoken words and underlying truths.



Promoting Honesty in Communication

In addition to interpreting others’ communications, it is crucial to encourage honesty in children’s own expression. By conveying to your children that you possess the ability to detect when they are lying, you create an environment that motivates them to be truthful. Initially, children may not grasp how you discern their deceit, but trust your instincts. Humans are inherently wired to process a myriad of verbal and non-verbal cues subconsciously when assessing the truthfulness of a statement. With practice and attentive listening, you will instinctively discern if your child’s words are less than truthful.

Sharing personal experiences of deception or evasion can be helpful, but children primarily learn through play. Engaging in games like Sussed? Lifeology provides an excellent platform for individuals to “suss” each other out and gain deeper insights while attempting to gauge the honesty of their peers’ responses.



Equipping children with the ability to comprehend and convey messages effectively is an essential life skill. By practising face-to-face communication and encouraging critical thinking, parents can empower their children to navigate the complexities of interpersonal interactions confidently. Dr Amanda Gummer’s expert advice offers invaluable guidance to help children interpret other people’s communication accurately. Furthermore, fostering an environment of honesty and providing opportunities for playful learning will ensure that children develop the necessary skills to communicate honestly and assess the integrity of others. By nurturing these abilities, we can empower our children to thrive in a world where effective communication is paramount.