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Feeling It Out: Preschool Social-Emotional Milestones

The significance of social and emotional development is seen in every area of a child’s life. A child will have a strong foundation for later development if he or she can manage personal feelings, understand others’ feelings and needs, and interact positively with others. Parents can see the significance of social and emotional development in every area of a child’s life. With proper social-emotional development, a child can have a strong foundation for later development.

Although there are innate differences in the development of children’s social and emotional developments, there are basic milestones that children normally achieve at various ages. Here are some of the basics.

Two-Year-Old’s Emotional Milestones

Your two-year-old should be able to recognize feelings when those emotions are labeled by an adult. Their emotional related language also began to expand as their understanding of what other’s feelings mean. It will also come as no surprise to parents that they show a strong sense of self as an individual. That assertive “no!” that is so common amongst two-year-old’s is actual a good indicator of this emotional milestone.

Two-Year-Old’s Social Milestones

At this age your toddler will still look to a trusted adult for comfort when conflict arises. This is a perfect time to assist them learning strategies to help them resolve conflicts with peers (“why don’t you play with the shovel, while he plays with the pail.”). They do enjoy playing alongside other children, but do not display a great deal of interaction with them yet.

Three-Year-Old’s Emotional Milestones

At this age preschoolers, will begin to develop a stronger sense of their individuality and personality. They will be able to better communicate their own feelings and can read and label the feelings of others based on facial expressions and tone of voice. You can continue to encourage this development through bed-time books that help children identify the reasons behind the feelings others.

Three-Year-Old’s Social Milestones

Monkey see, monkey do. At this age your child will begin to show interest in the actions of others and will begin to copy them. They also begin to play cooperatively for short periods of time. Although they still look to adults to help resolve conflicts, they are more likely to accept compromise (“you can have your turn, as soon as she is finished.”).

Four-Year-Old’s Emotional Milestones

The sophisticated four-year-old has the ability to compare themselves to others. This will also translate into their continued understanding of the causes of feelings and how others may not feel the same as them in a given situation (“I want to play on the swings, but she doesn’t.”).

Four-Year-Old’s Social Milestones

Group play is more likely at this age as they are able to sustain pretend play with others for a longer period of time. Pretend play and dress-up is a favorite activity at this age. These preschoolers are also able to respond more sympathetically to peers who are upset or angry and they may attempt to provide comfort to their friends.

Social-emotional development includes a child’s experiences, expressions and management of emotions, and the ability to establish positive relationships with others. At Tender Years, Inc. Child Development Centers, social emotional development is one of the Essential parts of our ACE (Adaptive Coordinated Essential) Customized curriculum. We truly believe that building up your child’s social emotional development will not only prepare your child for their time in school, but it will prepare them for life.