A sometimes overlooked aspect of a child’s development is their social development. A child’s social and emotional skills are just as important to their growth as mental and physical ones. Read our tips for making sure that children in your care are able to meet these necessary developmental milestones.

What Is Social Development In Children

Social development refers to a child learning to interact with the adults and other children around them. As they grow, children identify and develop their sense of “self'' within their community. As they do so, they acquire the skills to communicate with others and process their reactions.

What Are Social-Emotional Learning Skills

Social-emotional skills include a child’s knowledge, attitudes, and ability to recognize and control their emotions and actions. These also relate to a child’s ability to set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.

What Are Some Examples of Social-Emotional Learning Skills

Eight common social-emotional skills include:

  • Self-Awareness - a child’s ability to understand their strengths and limitations.
  • Self-Management - a child’s ability to control their emotions, actions, and complete tasks in new or challenging situations.
  • Social-Awareness - a child’s ability to display empathy for those around them.
  • Relationship Skills - a child’s ability to consistently make socially acceptable decisions that build positive connections with others.
  • Goal-Directed Behavior - a child’s ability to complete tasks of varying difficulty
  • Personal Responsibility - a child’s ability to be careful about their actions and contribute to group activities.
  • Decision Making - how a child solves a problem that involves learning from various sources and accepting responsibility for their actions.
  • Optimistic Thinking - a child’s attitude of confidence and positive thinking regarding themselves and others.

How Do You Develop A Child’s Social-Emotional Skills

4-C’s recommended strategy for developing social-emotional skills in children is through the Pyramid Model. The way that the Pyramid Model works is that child care providers make use of a three-tiered approach to promoting these skills.

  • Tier 1: Universal Promotion - At this tier, the focus is on providing high-quality, supportive environments while working with children to build nurturing and responsive relationships with the provider and their peers.
  • Tier 2: Secondary Prevention - This tier is focused on preventing problems within the child care environment. Providers should use instruction and support to establish clear boundaries with children to prevent challenging behavior before it can appear.
  • Tier 3: Tertiary Intervention - This tier is focused on providing individualized intensive guidance to children in order to address persistent challenges. This should be more rare, with only a small number of children requiring intervention.

Through this method, child care providers are able to provide a universal level of support to all children, targeted services to those who need more support, and intensive services to those who need them.

4-C provides child care providers with a wide range of resources and support that they can use to enhance their level of care. If you have any questions about the Pyramid Model, or early child care and education as a whole, check out the 4-C Resource Room has a variety of materials and resources that child care providers can use to enhance the care and education they provide.

The leaves are falling and the temperature is dropping, which can only mean Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to begin teaching your child about the importance of feeling and expressing gratitude. Raising thankful children is something parents strive for, and are often interested in new ideas. Here are some tips for teaching your child gratitude this holiday season.

Focus on the positives

A simple way to help teach your child gratitude is taking time out of your day to focus on the positives. Choose a time of the day - picking up the kids from school, the dinner table, or bedtime - and designate that as a time to talk about the best part of your day. Having the whole family participate can help cultivate a positive attitude that is more inclined to express gratitude for what they have.

Set a good example

Children look up to their parents and often attempt to emulate them. You can tell your child that they need to be thankful, but if you do not do the same they will not internalize what you want them to do. Setting a good example for your children by expressing gratitude allows your child to learn by your example. Your actions show how to be thankful, which can go a long way.

Show gratitude to your child

Showing gratitude to your child helps normalize an attitude of thankfulness. If your child does their chores, tries hard in school, or surprises you with something heartfelt, make the extra effort to thank them. Let them know how it feels to be shown gratitude so they will know how important it is for them to express gratitude. They are more likely to be thankful if they know the effect it has.

Volunteer with them

Take your child out to volunteer with you. Having them help those who have less than them helps show them what they should be grateful for. It is one thing to know that they should express gratitude, but if your child knows why they should be grateful, they are more likely to internalize this attitude.

This Thanksgiving, we recommend working with your child to learn the art of gratitude. If you have any questions about teaching gratitude, or early care and education in general, the 4-C Resource Room is full of materials and resources that parents and child care providers can use to enhance the care and education they provide, so make sure to check it out.

Searching for quality local child care can provide a variety of child care providers to choose from. It can be difficult to narrow down the choices if you do not know what to look for. Use the following core components of child care to help you make your decision for finding quality child care near you.

Staff Training & Education

Caregivers who are trained in Child Development or Early Childhood Education and/or who have experience with children generally do a better job than those who do not. Whether care is being provided by a regulated child care center or a regulated family child care provider out of their home, all staff members should have a minimum level of training and regulation. YoungStar quality child care ratings give parents an easy way to weigh their options. Ratings are based on the provider’s education and training; the learning environment and curriculum; the program’s professional and business practices and the children’s health and well-being.


The safety of the child is a prime concern of both parents and providers. Equipment, both indoors and outdoors, should be safe and suitable to children’s ages. Hazardous items should be stored away from children. The layout of space affects children’s behavior. Physical space should be organized so children know where things are and how they can be found. Large individual spaces can lead to loud and aggressive behavior, so space should be divided into areas where children can work and play together. Children need small, quiet places in the environment when they need to have some time to themselves. All children need a variety of toys and educational materials that are age appropriate.

Child/Teacher Ratio

Remember to consider whether the child/teacher ratio is appropriate for your child. Generally, the less children in a group, the more attention a caregiver will be able to provide. When talking to providers, make sure to ask them whether they are compliant with Wisconsin's requirements for child/teacher ratios.

Parental Involvement

The best child care programs welcome a fair amount of parental involvement and feedback. Family child care providers and child care centers who involve parents in decision making and goal setting for their child make sure that the child has consistent objectives and expectations at home and with their caregivers. The more two-way communication that providers emphasize, the more comfortable you will feel with their care. If you have any questions about looking for child care in your area, you can contact us using this form or email us at or call us at 1-800-750-KIDS.

Choosing a good child care arrangement is an important decision that can improve the daily lives of children and parents. Parents should always check with the regulating agency to see if there have been any complaints or concerns against the child care program.

There are many reasons a parent might choose to stay at home and care for their child. Whatever the reason, the decision to stay at home has an impact on your family’s household income and budget. To offset this, stay at home parents should consider becoming a certified family child care provider.

Becoming a certified provider would allow you to care for up to 3 unrelated children under the age of 7 within your home. Note that you would only be able to care for a maximum of 6 children (including your own) at a time. Certification opens the door to eligibility for our food program, which provides subsidies to providers who feed the children in their care nutritious food; a listing in our 4-C Referral Database; and support, resources, and technical assistance from 4-C to help providers succeed.


Beyond the resources 4-C provides, there are other benefits to becoming certified. One of the immediate benefits is the extra income. There are plenty of parents who have turned their at home child care operation into their main source of income. If you have a passion for caring for children, then why not make money from that passion?

A major benefit is the ability to be your own boss. Running your own child care operation can be fulfilling and satisfying. Being at home means you control the schedule and environment, and you don’t have to operate on someone else’s time. You would have the ability to establish your own hours and structure your own day.

One of the best parts of becoming a provider is getting to experience the joy of helping raise and guide children. You are already getting to experience that with your own child, and caring for other people’s only multiplies that experience. Everyday would be a new adventure for both you and the children that you would be caring for. Very little can match the sheer joy of helping a child grow and develop.

Before becoming certified, there are plenty of things to consider, but if you are already choosing to stay at home with your own child, 4-C highly recommends becoming a certified child care provider. If you are looking to begin the process of certification, or you have questions about certification, contact us through our online form or at our email:

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