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Picking up on social cues

At a Glance: Trouble Picking Up on Social Cues in Preschool

By Erica Patino

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Preschool is a time for developing social skills and learning to respect other people’s feelings. That means recognizing the social cues that come through body language and tone of voice. Learn what happens when preschoolers don’t pick up on other people’s signals.

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At a Glance: Trouble Picking Up on Social Cues in Preschool

For some kids, recognizing social cues like an angry voice or a hurt look is a skill that develops naturally. But for others, including some with early signs of learning and attention issues, it can be challenging. Here’s what issues with social cues may look like in preschool.

Doesn’t “See” People’s Feelings
At home: Your child can’t seem to tell from your expression that you don’t want him pulling on your sleeve.
At school: Your child doesn’t realize his friend is giving him an angry look for sitting too close.
The issue: Kids who have trouble with social cues don’t always pick up on facial expressions.

Doesn’t “Hear” When You’re Serious
At home: Your child doesn’t seem to listen, even when you use a firm tone of voice.
At school: Your child doesn’t get off the swing when the teacher calls her name and says it’s time to go inside, now!
The issue: Kids with social cues issues can’t always tell something’s important based on tone of voice.

Can’t Wait
At home: Your child keeps begging for ice cream, even though you’ve said she won’t get any until she stops.
At school: Your child jumps to the front of the line, even when classmates complain.
The issue: Kids who struggle with social cues may lack the self-control to wait, even if there are negative consequences.

Doesn’t Connect With Other Kids
At home: Playdates end early because your child won’t let her friend play with a certain toy.
At school: Your child interrupts a game of make-believe to talk about something unrelated.
The issue: Kids with social cues issues don’t always pick up on other kids’ needs or reactions.
Graphic of At a Glance: Trouble picking up on social cues in preschool
Graphic of At a Glance: Trouble picking up on social cues in preschool

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About the Author

Portrait of Erica Patino

Erica Patino

Erica Patino is an online writer and editor who specializes in health and wellness content.

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Reviewed by Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D. Apr 28, 2014 Apr 28, 2014

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