Social Referencing includes both the motivation and ability for a child to regulate their behavior based on the emotional information received. This skill entails the use of the facial expressions, reactions, and actions of their social partners as an essential reference point in determining his/her own feelings and behavior. It is also important to not always say things such as “look at my face” or “look at my eyes”; we do not want this skill to be forced, rather we want it to be as natural as possible so a child feels that he/she is a part of the group and decision.   We do however need to encourage children to reference their social partner when they need information, feedback, or to resolve uncertainty. Increase your use of non-verbal communication in your everyday interactions with your child. Overall, use far fewer words. When your son or daughter asks for a tissue just shift your gaze to the tissue box and let them get the tissue.

  1. Pause mid-sentence and wait (I know where the …..glue is) Use some very dramatic and interesting facial expressions (if something spilled and they need to be careful, make a surprised face)
  2. Exaggerate your voice (louder and softer), your gestures, (movement or pacing fast and slow)
  3. Stutter repeatedly until he/she looks
  4. Clear your throat dramatically