Social Emotional Skills in Children - Making an Impact for Children in Your Care

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.