Social and Emotional Development

How do children start to understand who they are, what they are feeling, what they expect to receive from others? These concepts are at the heart of their social-emotional wellness.

The early years of life present a unique opportunity to lay the foundation for healthy development. It is a time of great growth and of vulnerability. Social-emotional development provides the foundation for how children feel about themselves and how they experience others. This foundation begins the day they are born and continues to develop throughout their lifespan. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that social and emotional development is a fundamental part of a child’s overall health and wellbeing, as it both reflects and impacts upon the developing brain’s wiring and function. These healthy feelings / emotions contribute to a child’s self-confidence and empathy, the ability to develop meaningful and lasting friendships and partnerships, and their sense of importance and value to those around them. Children’s social-emotional development influences all other areas of development: cognitive, motor, and language development, which are all greatly affected by how a child feels about himself/herself and how he/she is able to express ideas and emotions.

Research on early childhood has underscored the impact of the first five years of a child’s life on his/her social-emotional development. Negative early experiences can impair children’s mental health and effect their cognitive, behavioral, social-emotional development.
Healthy social and emotional development refers to a child’s emerging ability to:

  • Express their ideas and feelings
  • Display empathy towards others
  • Manage their feelings of frustration and disappointment more easily
  • Feel self-confident
  • More easily make and develop friendships
  • Succeed in school

The healthier a child’s early experiences are, the more apt they are to enter school and life with a strong foundation of social-emotional skills. It is important to remember that these are the experiences and skills that will influence how they deal with both success and adversity across their lifespan.

Social and emotional milestones are often harder to pinpoint than signs of physical development. This area emphasizes many skills that increase self-awareness and self-regulation. Research shows that social skills and emotional development (reflected in the ability to pay attention, make transitions from one activity to another, and cooperate with others) are a very important part of school readiness.

Healthy social-emotional development entails the ability to form satisfying, trusting relationships with others, play, communicate, learn, face challenges, and experience and handle a full range of emotions. It is through relationships that young children develop these skills and attributes. Starting from birth, babies are learning who they are by how they are treated. Loving relationships provide young children a sense of comfort, safety, and confidence. They teach young children how to form friendships, communicate emotions, and to deal with challenges. Strong, positive relationships also help children develop trust, empathy, compassion, and a sense of right and wrong.

The greatest influence on a child’s social-emotional development is the quality of the relationships that he develops with his primary caregivers. Positive and nurturing early experiences and relationships have a significant impact on a child’s social-emotional development. They also influence how the young child’s brain develops.

Studies have shown that self-regulation of emotions and behavior is one of the strongest predictors of academic success and leads to success in the workplace, in social settings and in life for all young schoolchildren. Confident learners that stem from your classroom will have the foundational tools they need for continued success in school and beyond.

If you have concerns about your child’s social-emotional development, please feel free to contact Jennifer at (716) 432-3656. You’ll feel safe and comfortable, as all her sessions are confidential. For your convenience she is available on evenings and weekends by appointment.