Early Childhood Development: Social and Emotional Skills
Posted by Amanda Jacobs on
Areas of Child Development: Social and Emotional (Socioemotional) Skills
These refer to a child's ability to interact with others, and to understand and manage his feelings and emotions. Examples of socioemotional skills are empathy, sympathy, recognizing and expressing feelings, and the ability to relate to others.
These skills begin in early childhood – from birth, as they interact with their caregivers and form emotional attachments - and will continue growing throughout adulthood. Babies show signs of socioemotional growth by smiling at you when he sees you, waving goodbye when someone leaves, sharing his toys with his sibling, even showing anxiety around strangers (around 7-9 months) or tantrums (around age 2). The positive and negative reactions are all a normal part of their emotional growth.
Healthy socioemotional skills will help your child form and maintain positive relationships, self-confidence, develop self-awareness and awareness of others and their feelings, manage stress and anxiety.
Tips on how to help your child develop healthy relationships:
- From birth, children need love and attention – lots of eye contact and affection
- Respond to their emotional (and physical) needs, and keep them safe and nurtured
- Model positive relationships and attitudes, express appropriate reactions to situations i.e. show and verbalize empathy if someone is sad.
- Interact with your child through play, stories, and learning
- Show them that you're interested in them and their activities by listening to them or watching them as they play, give them your undivided attention when they try to tell you things or show you what they're doing
- Respect and validate your child’s feelings, encourage them to share their feelings in age-appropriate ways (the Skoolzy Pumpkin Matching Emotions Game is a great way to teach your toddler to recognize and identify different emotions)
- Provide opportunities for your child to play with others and to start building relationships with his/her peers
- Pets are a great way to teach your children responsibility, but also about empathy. We teach our children to treat their pets with kindness and compassion and by extension, children also learn to pick up on their pet's emotional cues - when they need space, when they're anxious etc. They will be able to use these same skills and social awareness with their human relationships too.
Want to know more? Read our blog posts for more on the five main areas of child development. Also check out our handy printables outlining important developmental milestones for each stage.