DEFINITION OF SOCIAL INTERACTIONS: Generally speaking, a social interaction must involve a minimum of two people (child) and is characterized by one person saying or doing something (staff for instance), which is followed by another child reacting in some way.
Interactions do not have to be verbal; in fact, some of our most important interactions are entirely non-verbal (think about it). As you can easily see, an interaction can be as simple as giving a “thumbs-up” to someone and seeing him or her smile at you and giving a “thumb-up” in return. This is perhaps the simplest form of interaction but it may still be meaningful to the person or child who gets the “thumbs-up.” These types of interactions are simple interactions because each person or child only engages in one behavior and then the interaction is over. This type of interaction makes up a large part of the exchanges we have with our co-workers every day. For example: “What’s up?” or “Same-old, same-old.”
On the other hand, an interaction can be highly complex as in having an intellectual discussion with someone or playing a game of tennis. These interactions are called Sustained Interaction characterized by a “back and forth” kind of participation between one person and another and may last from minutes to even hours. You see these interactions continue beyond a few moments. It us easy to see how important it is to know the difference between this type of interactions, especially when someone wants to engage you in a sustained interaction and you were only looking for a simple interaction! *Children who do not receive these types of more social interactions may seek out attention in inappropriate ways. How would you feel if your daily life was completely void of sustained social interactions? You might feel as if no one really cares about you or they paid attention to you only enough to be polite.
*You cannot have a meaningful relationship with a child without sustained social interactions.
One thing should be clear that our interactions can have a positive or negative tone to them. Most of us would probably prefer positive interactions but in some cases when interactions are few and far between, we may be grateful for any interaction at all regardless of the tone it takes.
During the day with children you serve, you may not always have opportunities or the time to engage in sustained interactions with an individual. However, there is ALWAYS time for simple interactions and this is highly preferable to no interaction at all.
Next week, praising praise!