Social and Emotional Development

Social and emotional development is an important part of children’s overall development.  It helps children make friends, cope with frustration, manage transitions, and follow rules.  Social and emotional development is also called early childhood mental health.  It is the ability of babies and children to

  • Develop close and secure relationships
  • Explore the environment and learn
  • Experience, manage and express emotions

Children develop social and emotional skills in small steps over time.  Children are best able to learn these skills when they feel safe and secure with the adults in their lives (parents, relatives and teachers) and their environments (homes, schools and neighborhoods).

What Parents Can Do

Babies (0-1 year) need responsive and affectionate care. You can help your baby feel safe and secure by responding to his needs. You can make regular routines, like a morning walk.

Young toddlers (1– 3 years) are beginning to develop a sense of self-awareness. They are learning that they are different and independent from others. You can praise them for their efforts to build self-esteem. You can get involved in your children’s play and follow their lead.

Preschoolers (3 – 5 years) are learning how to express and manage their emotions. You can help your child solve problems in healthy ways. You can explain your reasons for limits or rules – “You may not hit. Hitting hurts.”

More Ideas

  • Support your child’s social-emotional health by praising your child and being nurturing and calm.  For more ideas, read Tips for Families
  • Learn about Developmental Milestones.  Milestones help you understand what to expect for your child and when to be concerned.  Click here for Developmental Milestones
  • Join fun activities in the community.  Activities such as library story times and playgroups help children practice skills and have fun.