Presenting social interaction

Presenting social interaction

Social interaction refers to the behaviour of individuals who are partaking in a joint activity. In regards to communication, social interaction refers to the child’s communicative behaviours, for example:

  • the child's speech style dependent on the context 
  • cultural influences on the child's communicative interaction 
  • gender differences that may impact the child's communication 
  • the impact of one language on another (for children who are bilingual or multilingual) 
  • code-switching (swapping between two languages) 
  • following rules of linguistic politeness according to social norms 
  • social reasoning ability 
  • ability to be flexible in power relationships. 

Social interaction is important in social communication as it creates a foundation for a child to communicate with others. Before a child can communicate with another person, they must have the ability to approach other people. For the communication process to be successful the child must know and be able to carry out the social rules for communication.

Children who have social communication difficulties may struggle with social interaction. They may struggle with one or more parts of social interaction, which can cause a lack of or unsuccessful communication.

For children, this might mean learning how to play together, take turns in a game or share a toy. For adults, this might mean understanding emotional and social cues like knowing how to begin a conversation, knowing what to talk about in certain situations, or being aware of unspoken social interactions (like lining up at the supermarket).

Having social interaction skills also means knowing how to manage conflict (for example, when you don’t agree with someone or feel angry) and how to solve problems in the workplace or in relationships.

Social interaction skills can help us to feel as if we belong and are included. This might mean being a member of a sports club, having a hobby that involves other people, or going out in social situations without feeling overly anxious, upset or stressed by not knowing what to expect.

Common social interaction skills include: 

  • conversation skills - including body language and knowing what to say 
  • emotional skills - managing feelings and understanding how others feel 
  • problem-solving skills - reading the context, dealing with disagreements or making decisions in a social situation. 

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