What we say to people and children and how we say it can have a tremendous effect on behavior!
One thing should be clear that our interactions could have a positive or negative “tone” to children. 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 kind of interaction at all regardless of the tone it takes.
You cannot have a meaningful relationship with a child without sustained social interactions. Social sustained interactions are what many people are referring to when they talk about spending “quality time” with another person or child. Interactions are strictly for the mutual enjoyment of two people. Gossiping with our co-workers or sitting and chatting with our friends are good examples of this type of interaction, which are very important in our daily lives. A good question to ask yourself is “how many times per day do I engage in a sustained social interaction with ____?”
Children who do not receive these types of more social interactions may seek out attention in inappropriate ways. Social interactions must involve a minimum of two people (child) and is characterized by one person saying or doing something, which is followed by a 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). An interaction can be as simple as giving a “thumbs-up” to someone and seeing him or her smile at you and giving a “thumbs-up” in return. This type of interaction is a simple interaction because each person or child only engages in one behavior and then the interaction is over. Remember, children who do not receive these types of more social interactions may seek out attention in inappropriate ways.
During the day with the children you serve, you may not always have opportunities or the time to engage in sustained interactions with a child. However, there is ALWAYS time for simple interactions and this is highly preferable to no interaction at all.
Every interaction we have with children is teaching them about themselves!