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  • Louise Cheetham

The Importance of Positive Social Interactions


There are always a great deal of conversations taking place about the importance of developing social skills, particularly as the pandemic has forced as to take refuge in such a solitary way. But it is important for the development of desired social skills that the social contacts be positive. That way they will increase in frequency and intensity. I find it best to think of it in terms of percentages. It is better to have two social interactions a day which are positive (so 100% positive social contacts) rather than 100 interactions where only 2 are positive / successful (so 2%).


Society will often say that our children should be in specific environments(with lots of children) to develop good social skills. The reality is that if our children haven’t acquired these from being at nursery and/or school and they don’t have a high percentage of meaningful social interactions each day, they are very unlikely to miraculously begin to acquire these skills without direct individualised teaching first which we can then facilitate in scaffolded interactions - all the way up to successful group interactions. Where our children may struggle socially, we also have to choose models wisely - particularly with our children who have heightened senses of persecution and those who may imitate or play the class clown to gain attention where they are’t able to do this any other way.


Not all of our children love big groups and we also have to balance personality with barriers and that is something we can work through together. It may be that your child gets their meaningful interactions with you, which is probably why things can be pretty intense for you at home and after nursery or school! Remember that we are raising adults, childhood is a passing phase where we acquire skills which put us in good stead for the remaining 70 plus years!


Another thing to bear in mind is the ’80% rule’. With any desired skill, especially around communication, social skills or interactions and relationships, 80% of successful interactions are always optimal. 100% is unrealistic. Below 80% and things get tricky for us and below 50% is where we see complete relationship breakdown and the development of emotional and mental health disorders such as what society would call depression/anxiety etc. I can chat until the cows come home about this as it is a topic which is close to my heart!



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