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Helping your kids with social situations

calendarJanuary 11 2020

By Paul Rose, YouTeachMeToo.

Have you ever found yourself in social situations that you were not sure how to handle? How did it make you feel? Awkward? Embarrassed? Confused? Angry? Frustrated? It can be hard to understand what other people really mean and expect from you, and it can be just as hard to get other people to understand what you want in social situations. 

Did you know that only 7% of human communication is through words? Around 38% of understanding is HOW we say things, our tone of voice or speed at which we speak, and about 55% of communication is non-verbal, that is facial expressions and body posture or gestures.   

When we communicate, we send information out to others; this is known as ‘expressive communication’ and receiving information is known as ‘receptive communication’. Expressive communication is about the words we use, our tone of voice, how fast we speak and our body language.  Receptive communication is about our understanding of the information sent to us and then being able to follow instructions or hold a conversation.

Communicating successfully when we are from the same culture and have the same accent can be difficult enough, so think about how you communicate when you are tired, in pain, or feel sad or overexcited, or just aren’t on the same wavelength as the people you are hanging out with!

It gets even more complicated if a person has a disability or access issue which affects their expressive and/or receptive language. Ticks, twitches, hearing and sight loss or cognitive impairments can mean information gets lost or redirected. When you think about it like this it becomes easier to understand why people get confused, messages get muddled and things go wrong.

Do you remember sitting in class at school learning all the rules around written and spoken communication? We have many, many rules for English and, of course, there are always exceptions to all of those rules and many just are plain confusing! I have no idea how to explain to my children when to pronounce a ‘c’ like an ‘s’ or like a ‘k’….and don’t get me started on trough, bough, bought and borough!!

Did you ever have lessons about nonverbal communication? I did not have any, I learned the rules through my parent, family, mixing with friends, going to clubs and watching TV and now the kids are learning from YouTube videos. The thing is, it is very confusing. I am not particularly good at it and have lost count of the number of times I have misread what people are really saying, my response has been wrong and there many occasions where it’s been embarrassing and that is just in situations which are familiar.  Life can get even more complicated when you are faced with situations which you have not be faced with before.  Drama lessons are great for this!

When I became a teacher and headteacher I saw many children having issues with understanding and communicating in everyday situations – the stuff that we hope every child will learn as they grow; how to manage interactions with people they don’t know, how to travel safely on public transport, how to go shopping and so on. I tried to create as many situations as a I could within the curriculum and within the school day but let’s be honest schools have limited resources in terms of time and budgets.

screenshot of www.youteachmetoo.com showing 4 examples of videos with questions including 'this person keeps staring at me' and 'should I eat this?'.

I decided to create a resource that supports parents and educators to enable them to teach their children how to understand different situations safely and manage them with confidence. The library of videos (which is growing every day) are designed to be viewed, then discussed, helping the adult to guide the child’s understanding of real life situations in a safe space. The resources enables the child to understand and develop their verbal and non-verbal communication skills. Over the past couple of years, feedback from teachers and parents have shown that this has a positive impact on the child and made the world more accessible for the family.

You can find a link to the videos here www.youteachmetoo.com. There’s a free 3-day trial; if you like what you see, join us before 30th February 2020 using the discount code WeCanAccess10 and claim a 60% discount for the life of your subscription.

Headshot of Paul Rose. In the background you can see a stately home, its grounds and 3 people walking behind him.

Paul Rose is a former headteacher who loves learning and hates education with equal ferocity.  As a child he was ‘spirited’ and this theme continued into his teacher career, which he fell into by accident. He somehow became a headteacher, turning round a failing school with a relentless focus on putting the needs of children before adults. He’d love you to connect with him at https://www.linkedin.com/in/pdrose and follow him @YouTeachPaul.

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