Early Childhood Intervention: Module One – Typical and Atypical Development

Social Skills

Atypical social skills1 refer to those behaviours that indicate that children are having difficulty relating to others and that may place them or others at risk in terms of safety. Children who display atypical behaviors and/or symptoms in the development of their social skills should be referred to the appropriate specialists as early as possible. Atypical social skills can be indicators of serious developmental difficulties in childhood, for example, children who hurt pets and other animals. These actions are not the same as “acting out” or when children are “going through a phase” as can sometimes happen when major changes at home happen, like death in the family or parents’ divorces. For children who consistently have these kinds of difficulties, it is recommended  that parents pay attention to them and find professional help, rather than wait for children “outgrow” these behaviours.

Some social indicators of atypical social behaviours include:

  • A child showing little or no affect since the very early stages

Some indicators that appear in the preschool years and onwards:

  • Always using the same tone (“monotone”) when speaking;
  • Destroying  toys and other objects and property;
  • Being physically aggressive towards other children and adults;
  • Being verbally aggressive towards others;
  • Hurting animals;
  • Avoiding eye contact to caregivers, friends and strangers;
  • Acting scared or panicking when someone moves quickly;
  • Being overly clingy to others at all times;
  • Showing same level of affection to caregivers and strangers;
  • Lying most of the time;
  • Running away from home or school.
1 see References

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