Social skills or Pragmatics refers to the components of communication apart from the actual words that have been spoken. It includes elements such as turn taking, eye contact and gestures. Children begin to display these skills from a young age and they can be important predictor’s of your child’s verbal communication development. Here are some of the key milestones to lookout for in your child’s early years of pragmatic development.
Birth to six months
Infants between birth and six months respond to voice and sound and will turn their head towards the sound source. They will establish eye contact; watch the speaker’s face when spoken to and can discriminate between a stranger and a familiar person. They smile and stop crying when spoken to and vary their responses to different family members.
Six to twelve months
Infants between 6 and 12 months will point to learn new vocabulary and coo and squeal for attention in the lead up to using their first word, which often happens in this age bracket. They attempt to mimic speech with a listener with babble and will try to communicate with gestures and actions. They laugh when playing with objects and smile at themselves in the mirror. Infants at this age also enjoy pat-a-cake and peek-a-boo games and will copy simple actions and gestures made by others.
One to two years
Children at this age are able to follow simple directions, especially with a gestural cue. They engage in parallel play with others and engage in simple pretend play, such as talking on a telephone and will repeat an action that has made somebody laugh. They begin to use social gestures and greetings such as hi, bye, please and thank you. They pair gestures with words to communicate their needs and they can indicate when they need to be changed after a toileting accident. Children at this age will imitate adult intonation and behaviours in play and exhibit verbal turn taking in conversation.
Two to three years
Children at this age will watch other children and briefly join in their play as well as participate in associative play. They will request permission for objects or activities. Children begin to use language for fantasies, jokes, and teasing. They make conversational repairs when the listener does not understand what they have said and engage in longer dialogue. Children around this age participate in simple group activities and enjoy role-play games such as ‘house’ as well as make believe activities with dolls. They can defend their own possessions, look for missing toys and help pack away their things.
Three to four years
Children between three and four years should be able to follow two-step related directions without cues. They are able to take turns, play cooperatively and separate from their primary caregiver easily. Children at this age will relate personal experiences through verbalization, expressing their ideas and feelings and will show frustration if not understood. They begin dramatic play, acting out whole scenes and frequently practice conversational skills by talking to themselves.
Four to five years
Children between four and five years are able to follow three-step directions without cues. They are able to use direct requests such as ‘stop that, you’re hurting me’ with justification. They use words to invite others to play and resolve disputes with peers. Children at this age speak of imaginary conditions such as “What if …” or “I hope …” and have good control of the elements of conversation.
Five to six years
Children between the age of five and six begin to use word plays, threats, promise and will announce topic changes. They are inquisitive and ask the meaning of words and questions to gain more information. They like to independently make purchases at stores and complete projects. At this age children choose own friends and are more careful when communicating with unfamiliar people. They engage in cooperative play, such as making group decisions, assigning roles, and playing fairly.
For more information on this topic or any speech related fields, contact us today and make an appointment with our Speech Pathologist Ashleigh Fattah.