Social Cues and Social Competence

What Are Social Cues

Social cues are the verbal and nonverbal “clues” that help us interact, communicate, and establish relationships with other people. By integrating the information contained within the cues, we can judge how other people are feeling, decide if someone is a friend or foe, and improve our overall social competence.

Some examples of social cues include:

  • Body language including gestures, posture, touch, and how we use space
  • Eye expressions and eye gaze
  • Facial expressions covering a range of emotions and feelings
  • Tone of voice and voice inflection

According to research, we typically begin to make judgements about social cues between birth and age two, and our learning continues into and through adulthood. But for many people, especially younger students, processing these cues can be a mystery, and it can help if we provide them with explicit instruction.

Teaching Social Cues

Foundational Lessons

We have developed a number of lessons and activities to assist you in helping students understand and process social cues. While these may include characters from our online social emotional learning curriculum, you don’t need to use or purchase the online programs in order to use the lessons below.

eye expressions lesson

Eye Expressions

With this lesson, students will how to use their eyes to convey feelings, and they will learn to evaluate similar clues from other students.

personal space worksheets

Personal Space

Working as a group, students will show proper personal space and discuss how different situations may change the rules around what boundaries are okay and not okay.

And then each student will write their own personal space social story.

Nonverbal Communication

On this page, you will find three worksheets and lessons to help your students improve their ability to recognize and process nonverbal communication signals.

body language activities

Body Language

This lesson is an activity built on the classic game of Telephone. Students will first play the game use words, and then, they will play again using body language to convey a feeling.

Additional Social Cues Lessons and Worksheets

Recommended Books

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