Emotional Social Development In Children & How Can Parents Help?

by David Simon on Aug 30, 2022

Emotional Social Development In Children & How Can Parents Help?

In the previous blog post, we learned about the different types of motor skills, milestones, and how parents can help promote motor skills in children. Today, we’re going to move on to the next area of development - Emotional Social. First, let’s answer the question, “What exactly is Emotional Social Development?” 

What is Emotional Social Development?

Emotional Social is one of the 4 main areas of development: motor, cognitive, language and lastly social, or emotional. Emotional development in toddler or young children is the process of them learning about who they are, their feelings, emotions and interactions with others. Due to the close connection with social growth, you often see “emotional development” referred to as “emotional social development”. This process of learning and developing usually takes a long time, since birth to even young adulthood. 

During this time, children will learn to identify and deal with their emotions. They’ll also learn how to form and sustain positive relationships with others, as well as how to explore and engage with the environment around them. 

Children's Emotional Development Stages

Before we begin, it’s worth mentioning that these are just some general milestones in children’s emotional social development, and should only be used as a guideline. Although there are certain commonalities among children at similar ages, they actually develop at different rates and are not all alike. 

Infancy to age 1

In the early months, babies will typically learn to react with smiles, as well as express their various emotions, such as tiredness or hunger, through the act of crying. 

In the later months, babies will start to smile on their own to get your attention. They’ll also start to recognize familiar faces, and later start developing a preference for certain things and people. By the 1 year mark, they’ll be able to show several facial expressions, such as happy, angry, sad and surprised. They’ll also be able to engage in interactive games such as peekaboo or pat - a - cake. 

Age 1 - 2

At this age, children tend to copy behaviors of others around them, such as their parents or other children. They also start to show affection to their family or their stuffed toys and dolls through physical acts like hugging, kissing, cuddling. 

This is also the time when toddlers start to become more curious, exploring their surroundings alone (with parents’ supervision, of course). They will point at things they find interesting, and even bring objects they like to show you. 

Around this age, children will also start to learn empathy. They will start to notice when others are hurt or upset, and some might even share mutual feelings with their friends. This is also the time children start to show defiant behavior, such as refusing to do what they’re told to do. They will also develop a wider range of intense emotions, which might lead to more frequent tantrums or aggression.  

Age 3 - 5 

During this period, children typically will start learning to control their emotions and impulses, such as calming down by themselves after crying. They will also learn to play, share and cooperate with other children through interactive plays. 

Children this age can also adapt to a simple, predictable routine, and might even get upset when that routine is disrupted. Independence is also a big thing for this age group, though they still need a sense of security from their parents. 

happy children playing together

Source: Happy children playing together image by pch.vector on Freepik

How can parents help? 

Listen and respond to your child 

Giving your children your full attention when they talk, listening attentively and responding to them are absolutely crucial to their emotional social, as well as their communication skill. Children will start to learn how to communicate with others through these experiences.

Keep interactions positive and express your own feelings verbally

This is the time when children start to develop a wider range of emotions, and that can certainly be confusing to them sometimes. This is why parents should try to keep interactions positive and express their feelings verbally, so that children can better understand different emotions and not get overwhelmed by their own feelings.

Model good behavior

As previously mentioned, children this age are easily influenced by others’ behaviors. They also tend to mimic emotions and actions displayed by their parents and other children. Because of this, it is important for parents to model good behaviors, since they are a direct source of influence to their children. If parents display neutral, healthy behaviors even in times of stress or difficulty, their children will be able to develop better emotional control. 

Give them responsibility

Assigning children small chores like putting away their dirty clothes, or cleaning up their toys after play time will help children build independence and confidence. They’ll be able to gain a sense of responsibility from a young age, which will certainly be beneficial later on in life. 

Encourage playing with others, taking turns, and sharing

Children this age learn a lot from interacting and playing with their peers. Frequently engaging in play time with other children will help them learn to communicate, share and cooperate with others. Through these activities, children will also get a chance to form healthy relationships with their friends, which might turn into meaningful,  long - term friendships in the future.