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Posted: September 27th, 2023

Best Ways to Accelerate Social and Emotional Development in Children

Best Ways to Accelerate Social and Emotional Development in Children
There are several effective methods that can help boost a child’s social and emotional growth. Early childhood is a critical period for developing these skills through interaction, play, and meaningful experiences. Caregivers play an integral role in fostering environments and opportunities that support healthy socioemotional development.
Nurture Secure Attachments
A child’s primary relationships, beginning with parents/guardians, form the foundation for all future relationships (Center on the Developing Child, 2016). By responding sensitively and consistently to a child’s needs, secure attachments are built through which children learn to trust, feel secure exploring their world, and understand their own emotions. This allows children to better understand others’ perspectives as well.
Provide Social Interactions
Interacting with other children and adults helps develop social competence. Organized activities like playgroups and preschool expose children to different social situations and allow them to practice skills like cooperation, sharing, and emotional regulation (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2004). Spending quality one-on-one time with a child also aids social and language development.
Model and Coach Emotional Skills
Children learn emotional intelligence from observing how adults handle and discuss feelings. Explicitly labeling and explaining one’s own emotions as well as a child’s teaches emotional awareness (Gross, 2013). When children experience upsets, caregivers can help them develop coping strategies and problem-solving abilities through open communication. This fosters self-control and empathy.
Read and Discuss Stories Together
Storytime is a fun, engaging way to boost social-emotional skills. Examining characters’ thoughts and actions helps children understand perspective-taking and consequences. Discussing how stories make them feel also strengthens emotional vocabulary and identification (National Association for the Education of Young Children, 2009). Incorporating multicultural stories exposes children to diverse experiences.
Play Together Daily
Unstructured play is vital for developing social skills organically. Through pretend, children learn to cooperate, negotiate, solve problems, and regulate their emotions (Weisberg et al., 2013). Designating daily playtimes where caregivers fully engage at the child’s level, without screens, optimizes these benefits. Outdoor activities additionally aid physical, cognitive and social development.
Center on the Developing Child. (2016). From best practices to breakthrough impacts: A science-based approach to building a more promising future for young children and families. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.
Gross, J. J. (2013). Emotion regulation: Taking stock and moving forward. Emotion, 13(3), 359–365. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0032135
National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs serving children from birth through age 8. Retrieved from www.naeyc.org.
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2004). Young children develop in an environment of relationships: Working paper no. 1. Retrieved from www.developingchild.harvard.edu.
Weisberg, D. S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R. M. (2013). Guided play: Where curricular goals meet a playful pedagogy. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(2), 104–112. https://doi.org/10.1111/mbe.12015

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