I would love some advice on how to help him learn more social cues. He often says stuff about kids he doesn’t know at the park, like “what’s her name?”. I always say, “I don’t know, lets go ask her”. And his teacher has observed that he will go up to a kid and kinda prod them with his foot, or grab something from them, or whatever, and just kinda be obnoxious – until the other kids say “stop it” to him. His teacher feels that he is trying to interact with the kid but doesn’t know how to do it gently and effectively. His teacher suggests that we encourage him to go up to kids and say “lets play” (not ask if he can play, since that sets up a potential rejection) and always lets him know that hitting somebody “doesn’t work” as a way to initiate play. He’s not super verbal, and his speech can be difficult to understand, so I feel like we need some pointers on helping him initiate positive interactions with other kids. Advice?
Not only is his teacher giving you great advice, but it seems as though you too are responding well to your son. The most important aspect of parenting that I encourage you to always remember is that YOU are his FIRST TEACHER!! He is going to model everything after you and this will lay the foundation for the rest of his life. Therefore, he takes his social cues from you as well. You can help him interact with his peers by showing him how you introduce yourself to others. I like how you handled the “What’s her name?” question. You are showing him that it’s okay to approach people gently. You could ask the child her name first in order to show your son how to do it. Like teaching him how to get dressed or put on his shoes, you are also teaching him how to speak to people. And remember that he is always watching how you do it even when you’re not necessarily in a teaching moment.
His verbal progression will have a direct impact on how he tries to communicate. Remember when he couldn’t speak at all and he would communicate nonverbally with you in a variety of ways? Think about some of those ways and what they actually meant and how it was your job to decipher his meaning. Now, he’s more verbal and is just learning how to express himself and be understood. From how to say “bye bye” to how to walk up to another child and ask their name or to engage them in play. Also remember that you are also teaching him how to respond to a situation when that child says ‘no.’
Social cues are learned behaviors and it seems like you are a parent who is mindful, attentive and trying hard to be there for your son. Keep it up!! There is so much more to teach on a moment-to-moment basis and as you well know…you can never truly clock out as a parent, aka teacher of life and living.