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The Importance of Socio-emotional Development

Posted by Sinead Cowins on May 12, 2017


Socio-emotional development during the preschool and kindergarten years is extremely important. It has been linked to healthy intellectual growth and is thought to be a foundation for future school achievement. When not cultivated, poor socio-emotional development can lead to disruptive behavioral problems that studies have found to be extremely stable across childhood and adolescence (Campbell, 1995; Moffitt, Caspi, Dickson, Silva, & Stanton, 1996). However, if properly developed, it can continue to aid small children in traversing life and making positive decisions.

What is Socio-Emotional Development?

According to Waltz, socio-emotional development is a combination of social and emotional intelligence. It specifically refers to a child’s capacity for self-confidence, trust, and empathy. It also includes being able to use language as a means of expression and cognitive curiosity. Socio-emotional development is influenced by three central factors: biology, environment, and relationships. Biology involves factors such as genetics and temperament. Environment involves those factors that surround the child and may include socioeconomic status, love, and support. Lastly, relationships involve parental connections, family members and friends.

Fostering Socio-emotional Development

            Positive socio-emotional development comes as a result of child curiosity, temperament, parental involvement, and positive interactions. Caregivers are integral to the development of socio-emotional skills and are encouraged to help in the establishment of the following, as they support school readiness:

- Confidence. By means of confidence, children can learn to trust their feelings and participate in child directed activities.

- Curiosity. Children should be encouraged to take interest in the world and things outside of themselves.

- Self-Control. We should provide children with incentive to do things like sit calmly, listen to stories, and provide feedback.

- Relatedness. Leading by example, caregivers should model empathy by showing concern for others, displaying emotions, and accepting emotions. They should also provide their children with opportunities to provide empathy and reward them for doing so.

- Communication. Teaching children to work through their conflicts can foster effective communication. Children she be encouraged to talk about how they feel as well as listen to the thoughts of others.

- Cooperation. Cooperation and interdependence are pivotal to socio-emotional development. It mimics the realities of the real world, fosters empathy, and helps children to communicate effectively.

            From what has been studied, we can confidently state that children with socio-emotional intelligence have a greater likelihood of achieving success in school and in life. Therefore time should be taken to ensure the socio-emotional development of your child.


NCSL (2005). Helping your children succeed-Strategies to promote early childhood social and emotional development.

Waltz. The Importance of Social and Emotional Development in Early Childhood. Retrieved at http://childrensacademyonline.net

Zero to Three (2006). Heartstart: the emotional foundations of school readiness. Retrieved at http://zerotothree.org

Topics: Better Parenting, Socio-emotional Development, Confidence, Intellectual growth

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