Ways To Help Develop Your Child’s Social-Emotional Skills

The development of social-emotional skills in the early years begins a foundation for many other developmental and educational skills such as literacy, and other cognitive abilities.

Social-emotional skills are important for:

  • Regulating emotions
  • The ability to share with others
  • Follow instructions
  • Understand the emotions of others
  • Show empathy

For any age, children need a role model to show them what these social emotional skills should look like.

There are several ways you can help the development of this skill:

Birth-12 Months:

-Be responsive to your baby’s needs. For example, if your baby tries to grab for the spoon at mealtimes, you know they’re curious and want to hold it for themselves. Give them their own spoon to hold while you continue with feeding.

-Be expressive and share in their discoveries. When playing with blocks and they have stacked one on top of another, clap your hands, smile, and say, “You did it!”

-Show affection. Cuddling, holding, rocking, and singing are all ways to show your baby they’re special. Hold your baby in your lap when book-sharing; rock and sing to them at nap and bedtimes.


1-2 Years:

-Play games that involve sharing. For example, use play times with other children to encourage passing a ball back and forth or taking turns with a shovel in a sand box.

-Establish routines. Routines help children feel safe and secure in a big world they’re just learning how to navigate. You can also practice letting them know ahead of time when you’ll be switching activities. For example, “After lunch, we’ll cuddle up with your favorite blanket and read a book together.”


3-4 Years:

-Use books to practice recognizing emotions. You can ask, “Which child looks sad?” or “Do you think she’s happy?”

-Ask your child to make or draw sad and happy faces with play dough or crayons and paper.

-Show your child acceptable ways to show their frustration or anger. For example, they can rip paper or stomp their feet.


Social-emotional skills can be modeled in your everyday interactions with your child. The above suggestions are just a few examples. For more ideas, visit Zero to Three.


Interested in finding out how your child’s social-emotional skills are developing?

Complete a free developmental questionnaire.


Questions? Contact us!
Crystal Burns, Help Me Grow Specialist
(386) 317-3386