Early Childhood Emotional Development

Early childhood emotional development and social development is the key to a child's overall well-being.

It is the ability to learn the difference between right and wrong, and true and false. It is also the ability to become empathetic and take into account the emotions, feelings, and needs of others.

A child that has a difficult time socializing and expressing their emotions will face a greater challenge when trying to play and connect with their peers. As a result, they can suffer from a lower self-esteem and feelings of the excluded 'outsider.'

Here is a guideline for the stages of child development in the category of early childhood emotional development and social development between ages 3 to 5.

The Three Year Old Child

  • Plays alone or next to others, choosing sometimes to copy their actions or incorporate their ideas.
  • Expresses feeling of joy and happiness.
  • Begins to easily separate from parents and other familiar adults.
  • Begins to be empathetic to others.
  • Begins to show independence by dressing themselves, cleaning up on their own, and using the washroom.

The Four Year Old Child

  • Plays alongside others and begins to play cooperatively.
  • Uses language to express feelings, solve problems, and disagree with adult support.
  • Begins to show a comfort level in new situations.
  • Offers help and comfort to others.
  • Improves independence skills and manages daily routines at ease.
  • Begins to understand that there exists both actions and consequences.

The Five Year Old Child

  • Plays with "best friends."
  • Plays cooperatively, most of the time.
  • Uses language to express feelings, solve problems and disagreements.
  • Shows a comfort level in new situations and with new people.
  • Is in tune to other people's feelings and offers ideas on how to help others in need.
  • Is independent and can complete daily routines.
  • Understands that there are consequences to actions.

Early Childhood Emotional and Social Development

The following tips come from my personal experience at home and at school...

Emotional Development

Emotional Development

There is a program that is called Second Step. It teaches children how to use their words to express their feelings as well as how to 'read' other children's body language. When two children fight, we encourage them to look at each other and we say: "Look at your friend. How do you think they feel?"

It is also important to teach children to express their emotions. "I don't like it when...." "I am angry at you because..." The more we use this 'emotional language' with our children, the easier it will be for them to express their feelings.

Social Situations

I like to remind Eytan of how we behave in social situations before we have a friend over or before we go to someone else's house. I also let him know who will be there, just in case there are children that he doesn't know well. I find that, by preparing him in advance, the transition into the new situation is much smoother and he feels at ease.

My best advice for the time when a child has a hard time entering the classroom and separating from their parents is to do it quickly. Do not talk to the teacher for too long - simply say goodbye and leave. Your child is in safe hands and will most likely stop crying after a couple of minutes.

Preschool Activities Homepage > Developmental Milestones > Social Emotional


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