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Spotting and Understanding Child Social Cues

Whether it’s our daycare, after school care or any of our other child care programs, the educators at Smart Kids Development Center are constantly aware of social cues given by children. These are cues all people send using body language and expressions, and especially for children who may not yet be fully comfortable expressing themselves vocally, they can be very important.

What are some of the most important social cues? Let’s go over a few, which can be important on both ends of the development spectrum – properly interpreting them in children, but also slowly teaching children to recognize these in others.

Facial Expressions

We use the face to express feelings, both consciously and subconsciously. We might raise eyebrows when questioning something, smile wide when happy or sulk when we’re angry. Facial expressions are some of the most obvious social cues – children have a particularly hard time hiding them, even when they’re trying to. These are also some of the first that children can learn to recognize in others.

Body Language

In many cases, again especially with children, emotions can be so strong that they affect the way we hold our body. People often slump their shoulders when tired, shrug when they don’t know the answer to a question or seem more bouncy when in a great mood. Just like with facial expressions, body language can be both intentional and unintentional. Know that it may take time for children to understand your body language, even if you think it’s relatively obvious.

Tone and Pitch

This is an area related to verbal communication, but also separate. It’s often subconscious – certain moods will call for high or low voices, or fast or slow speech. These changes sometimes reflect the manner of what’s being said, but know that children often miss these nuances – they may not get jokes or sarcasm as easily, especially before it’s been explained to them.

Personal Space

Probably the most common subconscious cue for children is their use of space. They’ll naturally move closer to people they like and further away from people they’re scared of or intimidated by. You can use these cues to discern important parts of their social development, in many cases.

Want to find out more about how we utilize social cues and behavior at Smart Kids Development Center, or interested in any of our child care services? Our educators are standing by to assist you.