Reading Social Cues
by Nadine Briggs
Reading social cues can be tricky for many because of all the subtle ways that we express ourselves. We communicate with the words we choose, but also the position of our bodies relative to another person, facial expressions, eyes, tone of voice, inflection, and even gestures. Kids need to be able to read other people and also be aware of what type of vibe they’re presenting in a social setting. During the pandemic, reading these cues is further complicated by masks and being online.
We coach kids on this skill using in-the-moment coaching when they’re in groups and also with games, visuals and role plays. This week, for instance, we showed several different photos of kids and teens and asked how they would feel about approaching that person. Some of the photos were more obvious but many were not. We had lively discussions about who looks safe to approach, who you might start to approach and see if they smile at you, or otherwise show friendliness. Others you might want to approach with caution and decide to walk on by if they don’t appear to be friendly.
When kids are together in a group, there are countless opportunities to clue them in on how to interpret the social cues from the other group members.
As social coaches, we are continuously reading the Zoom room to check in, adjust, or pivot depending on how the kids are reacting to what’s going on. We often share how we do that with the kids so they have concrete examples to follow.